Canadians love their sannies. Nearly two-thirds of Canadian restaurant operators (63.6%) include sandwiches on their menus, according to Technomic.
Sales data reveal diners adore their favourites, and there is also a big appetite for new temptations that go beyond the usual, while limited time offers help drive traffic.
The pandemic has shone new light on portability, and sandwiches show tremendous ability to travel, with their ingredients intact.
Top sandwich pairings
59.1% of restaurant operators feature sandwiches and wraps on their menus
Source: Technomic 2020 Sandwich Report
Choosing the right ingredients to build the perfect sandwich
High quality ingredients make the sandwich, says Camille Fortier, marketing supervisor at Boulart. “From the outside to inside, having the right components makes the experience and taste so much better. At Boulart, we believe that a great bread is the canvas to all your culinary creations. Our breads are made with simple ingredients, are versatile and have great holding power — which means they can handle all the condiments without getting soggy.”
What goes inside is just as important as the bread that holds it in place, says Chef William Wallace, director of culinary for Erie Meats.
- Taste what you are going to serve. “You would be surprised how many sandwiches get made and no one has ever taste tested what is being offered,” says Chef William.
- Buy what is in season for fresh produce and develop a good relationship with the company that makes your most expensive part of your sandwich — the protein. “Ask them to work with you to develop what you want, creating a partnership with your suppliers,” he says. “If you can, take the opportunity to see how your food is made — the meats, the breads, and the cheeses in all great sandwiches are all made by great companies with hard working people who are proud of what they do. Go see them in action.”
- Check out the competition’s operations, too. “See what they are doing and how they are doing it.”
Tips on how to build the perfect sandwich
- Choose a bread with strength and texture. Be sure the bread/bun doesn’t overpower the fillings and that they taste good together.
- Layer your condiments on both bottom and top of the bread/bun to hold everything inside, Boulart’s Fortier recommends.
- Put the heaviest on the bottom — “Keep meats, cheese and other dense ingredients at the bottom and top with lighter ingredients such as vegetables. Lettuce acts like a blanket and holds everything into place wherever you place it,” she says.
- Include a wide range of textures and flavours. Thinly sliced meats and cheeses and bite-sized vegetable pieces are easier to layer and eat. Smaller fillings make it easier to bite into any sandwich without having them all slide out.
- Watch the moisture. Wet lettuces and overripe tomatoes will not make a great sandwich, Erie Meats’ Chef William Wallace says.
- Go for consistency, so choose pre-sliced deli meats. Food that tastes great gets purchased again and again.
Taste for excellence
Make sure that your sandwich tastes like what it is, Wallace says. “A Chicken Caesar Wrap should taste like chicken, not Caesar dressing. Make sure that your staff can make the same great sandwich, the same way, every time.” A good training regimen is vital.
Don’t be reluctant to be creative with your offers, Fortier adds. “Sandwiches don’t have to be boring and always the same. Simple ingredients like pickles and flavourful condiments add a lot character to a sandwich and can easily elevate it. Offer different sandwiches made with a variety of breads to make choices more appealing to your guests.”
Breakfast sandwiches remain one of the hottest trends in the category — and no wonder. “They are convenient and accessible, and perfect for diners on the go,” she says.
Protein alternatives such as plant-based patties are stoking consumer interest. “Spicy foods heated with condiments like sriracha and harissa are on the rise. Consider how they could be included, in the best possible light, in your sandwich offers,” Wallace says.
And, don’t be afraid to be creative. The best sandwiches are those that tap ingenuity and combine new ingredients, held together deliciously and beautifully presented.
Top tips to up your sandwich takeout game
- Use the right packaging for the job. One size does not fit all when it comes to sandwich packaging. The right takeout package for the job depends on the temperature of the sandwich, the ingredients, sauces and condiments. Certain packaging can actually make the food soggy and turn even the best ingredients into mush. Check out this chart from Tundra Restaurant Supply, which recommends the proper packaging for each type of meal.
- Create custom labels. By this time most restaurants offering takeout & delivery have got the new routine down pat. But how about the opportunities offered by packaging to enhance your branding? With the space available on bags and even the inside packaging, you could advertise your restaurant and any special offers. It’s a quick, and inexpensive, way to increase your branding and keep your business top of mind with customers.
- Add a separate sandwich menu. Highlight the wide variety of sandwich and wrap offerings, including popular breakfast sandwiches, separately from your regular takeout menu to generate interest. Many customers are looking for a light bite — your sandwich offerings could be the answer.
- Don’t forget social media. Adding something new to your menu lineup? Don’t forget to photograph sandwiches in scrumptious detail and share widely through your SM channels.