Erbert & Gerbert’s , the Midwest-based sandwich shop known for its Bold Between the Breads sandwiches and soups that has made millions of people happy for the past 33 years, is on a tear. The brand is seeing double digit growth through the summer, a refocused menu, new branding and shop design, store expansion and additional operational and technical leadership.
The momentum is expected to continue long-term, as the company works toward a multi-year plan to double store count, grow profit margin by double-digits, and deliver best-in-class 24/7 restaurant support. Industry trends point toward strong growth in fast food and quick service restaurants, burger/sandwich specifically, over the next six years.
“We are pulling out of the pandemic with a game plan to accelerate growth through improved efficiency, increased quality, and enhanced customer service. We are outpacing the market recovery by 10%, thanks to our ability to be nimble, respond quickly to consumer needs, and deliver the products our loyal fans value the most,” says Eric Wolfe, CEO and President of Erbert & Gerbert’s. “We also offer an incredible business opportunity for those seeking to pivot jobs. Many people are reconsidering priorities right now and owning a franchise is the perfect opportunity to become your own boss and start a new, rewarding career.”
According to the National Restaurant Association, the overall industry saw a $240 billion sales hit in 2020, and more than 8 million employees laid off or furloughed.
Pandemic Survivor Thrives in 2021
Wolfe says the pandemic prompted Erbert & Gerbert’s to lean into what the company does best -- bold-tasting sandwiches and soups -- while removing extraneous menu items.
This allowed the company to simplify its operations and staffing model, while doubling down on its successful pre-pandemic quick service order offerings: online and mobile ordering, take-out, in-store, and third-party delivery. The company is also in the process of enhancing its app, which delivers loyalty points for orders, giving customers the opportunity to customize their rewards.
“The customer experience has always been important, and we learned that is still the case during the pandemic. People want the best tasting food delivered the way they want it,” says Jeremy Burke, Vice President of Brand Development & Strategy for Erbert & Gerbert’s.
As Erbert & Gerbert’s prioritizes sandwiches and soups, Burke says the focus will remain on the company’s great bread and boundary-pushing, adventurous taste profiles including recent additions of hearty, hot sandwiches such as the Neuron - loaded with BBQ brisket and Mac n Cheese. Erbert & Gerbert’s will be launching limited-time-only offerings, including bold twists on its most successful LTO, The Northern Cheesesteak, in November.
New Shop Design Rolls Out Across Midwest
To aid in implementing all the changes, Erbert & Gerbert’s has added a Director of Operations. Tyler Schwecke comes from competitor Jimmy John’s where he was responsible for overall operations for all Las Vegas Jimmy Johns locations. Prior to that, Tyler was a Franchise Consultant for Jimmy Johns Corporate in Champaign, where he worked directly with Jimmy John’s franchisees on innovative methods for growing sales, reducing costs, and improving in-store execution. Schwecke is responsible for streamlining and enhancing the operations of the brand in its current 78 shops, as well as the additional 18 planned to be added within the year throughout Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
“We have a labor model that works within the current climate, which is supporting our expansion. As a Midwestern company we’re excited to grow here in the Midwest with a mix of franchise and corporate stores. A dozen stores are opening in Iowa alone,” says Tyler Schwecke, Director of Operations, Erbert & Gerbert’s.
A new “out of this world” store design with unique graphics reflecting the bold Erbert & Gerbert sandwich combinations debuts later this year. An entirely new shop concept that meets consumer needs is coming soon.