There’s something about the humble sandwich that’s so satisfying and there is clearly a reason why sandwiches are such an obvious go-to option for a tasty and delicious lunch. A sandwich doesn’t have to be boring, you can stack them full of fresh vegetables, meats, various cheeses, and more less anything you fancy making them a perfect option for a cafe or snack bar environment.

So if you are planning on curating a versatile and tasty sandwich menu, take a look at our handy guide for getting started. We’ll give you the low-down on the sandwich shop industry and guide you through the essentials of the nation’s most popular snack.

The industry

It was 1762, when the Earl of Sandwich infamously demanded that his food be placed between slices of bread so that he could carry on his card game, and it was then that the simple delight of the sandwich was first appreciated. We have come a long way since then, however, the industry is highly competitive, and if you open your own cafe you will be competing against supermarkets, workplace canteens, cafes, bakers and, of course, other sandwich shops so it’s important that you set your sandwiches apart with quality ingredients and a good selection.

Why Sandwiches?

Simple yet versatile, the sandwich is over 250 years old and has spawned an industry worth an estimated £2.8 billion and it is estimated that over 60% of us buy a sandwich at least once a year. A good sandwich menu will make commuters pay your cafe a special visit, and tempt coffee drinkers to grab a bite with their afternoon caffeine fix. While sandwiches are relatively simple and easy to make, they can also provide a high mark-up. For a sandwich shop, there is also a good opportunity for up-selling drinks, snacks and other treats.

What Can You Offer?

When it comes to a cafe, customers will be expecting a broad range of hot and cold sandwiches. This could include rolls, baguettes, wraps, pittas and paninis. In addition to this providing tea and coffee is not just important for the customer but is also an opportunity for healthy profits. Some sandwich shops’ provide pastries and other hot foods, but you for now don’t get caught up in doing too much and remain focused on the sandwich.

You have the choice of buying pre-packed sandwiches or making your own on site. By making your own you have more creative input and have the benefit of being able to advertise your sandwiches as being ‘freshly made’. But it takes a little more work and time and you have to make sure that your recipes succeed.

Over the last few years there have been loads of changes in the world of convenience sandwiches and there are now many specialist sandwich makers out there on the market. Some of the early sandwich specialists, such as Subway, and Pret a Manger, are now market leaders with Pret’s turnover now exceeding £450m. Coffee houses such as Starbucks and Coffee Republic have added sandwiches to their repertoire. There are many big names to compete against, and while this may be daunting, rest assured that with quality ingredients and a good selection of sandwiches, your business will thrive in no time.

Here we list a few delicious and simple sandwich ideas to get you started:

Grilled Caprese

In other words, pesto, mozzarella and tomato. This is a simple cafe classic and a very popular go-to choice. Spread green pesto on a bread of your choice, and layer sliced mozzarella and tomato. If you want to add some grilled chicken it would be a delicious, protein-packed addition. Pop it into a grill or pan for a delicious toasted sandwich.

Chicken and avocado

This is a fresh and healthy sandwich option which would work well in a granary or wholemeal roll or pitta or bread. Fill the bread or pitta with mayonnaise and chicken then add avocado, lemon juice, red onion, and cherry tomatoes. If you wanted to really elevate this sandwich, mix blitzed basil into the mayonnaise.

Smoked salmon and cream cheese

This an elegant, classic sandwich option frequently enjoyed during afternoon tea! Place cream cheese, dill, chives, lemon rind and one teaspoon lemon juice in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper then spread evenly onto bread and top with sliced smoked salmon. Et voila! A lunchtime treat which is perfect paired with a cup of tea!

Club sandwich

This layered sandwich is often served in cafes and pubs across and makes a tasty meal for one! Start by toasting your bread and spread one slice with the mayo. Layer on a boiled egg, tomato and bacon, then top with another slice of bread. Add deli sliced chicken or turkey, bacon, then iceberg lettuce. Finish with the final slice of bread and cut it into quarters. Secure with cocktail sticks so it can be eaten without too much mess!

Hummus and falafel

This is a fantastic and easy vegan option. Generously spread hummus onto two slices of bread. On the bottom slice, layer some salad leaves and then place the falafel patties on the salad, you can break them up so the sandwich is a little easier to close, and the hummus mixes with the falafel. Top the other slice up with hummus and you could add a splash or two of hot sauce, such as Tabasco, for extra spice!

Cheese ploughmans

This is a British staple and a delicious take on a traditional ploughman’s plate. Spread two slices of thick bread with chutney, pickle or caramelised onion jam. Layer the cheddar or smoked applewood cheese, watercress and tomato and cucumber. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the remaining bread with mustard and top the sandwiches.

Egg and cress

Another vegetarian crowd pleaser, you simply can’t go wrong with an egg and cress sandwich. Spread the slices of bread with butter or vegetable spread. Chop up boiled eggs and mix together with some mayonnaise, then spread over wholemeal or white bread. Sprinkle each with cress. Simple and classic!

The bottom line

Making a delicious sandwich involves so much more creativity than throwing a few fillings between slices of bread and hoping for the best. As well as this, running a sandwich shop or cafe that keeps your customers continually coming back for more involves sound business principles, quality products and exceptional customer service. Operating a top-notch cafe or sandwich shop, starts with quality ingredients and knowing what makes a good sandwich.

Opening your cafe is an incredible achievement and will mark the start of a new and exciting adventure. After months of planning and preparation, a good and solid menu is the best way to showcase your work. It’s also a great opportunity to build up long-lasting relationships with your customers. And most importantly, you’ll enjoy sharing your passion for one of life’s greatest pleasures… sandwiches!

There is one thing that goes without saying and that is that you want to ensure you are using quality ingredients for your cafe or catering business. With this in mind, here at Freshways, we source and supply a wide range of own-label and branded food including bread, yogurt, fruit juices, cheeses, and eggs. By choosing Freshways as your supplier, you can be guaranteed to receive top quality service and products at competitive prices. We’ve grown rapidly since our simple beginnings in 1990 as a small wholesaler in Acton.

By providing excellent service, we rapidly grew into a milk and other dairy product supplier for independent retailers and cafés across the country. Since then, Freshways has further grown in quality and reliability to become the largest independent family-run dairy product supplier in the country. To find out more about the various services we offer, please visit our website or get in touch with us today, we would be happy to help!