Deli meats and cheeses - Whats your take?

Finally starting construction on our new sub shop down the street. Will have the same format as Jersey Mikes, where as the meat gets cut right in front of you as you order the sub.

My issue right now is what brand of meats and cheeses to use, as we have a deli case that will be displaying the meats and cheeses right to the customer. As well as the pricing structure for the sandwiches.

We were looking at going with Brickmens (GFS higher qualtiy line) of meats but we know that many people do not know the brand at all. However the meats (lets take ham for example) average our cost about $3.40# for Brickmens, but Boars Head (a well knows high quality meat) hits $4.74#

We factor 3oz of meat per sandwich so that would up the cost another $.25 which in turn, to keep the profit margin about 30% up’s the sandwich cost another $.80 for a 6" sub, that is fairly dramatic to me when we are in a market there Jimmy Johns is across the street and there is a subway, 1 mi. north and 1 mi. south of us.

Same thing with the cheese, American for example, GFS: $2.11# and Boars Head $3.49

We are in the same shopping center as Dominicks, Staples, Babies R Us, 3 banks, Play it again sports… so the people traveling into the shopping center do have a little more disposable income, but I believe our main daily business will be the workers from all these area businesses.

So really my question is, what do you all thing we should do as for as meat brand and pricing? Will the added cost of the Boars Head increase sales even though the sandwich prices will be elevated or keep it simple with the lower cost meats and cheeses, which we originally calculated out to be $4.79 for a 6" sub while Subway still has their $5 foot-longs and Jimmy Johns offers 8" subs for the same $4.79

I will say the same thing that I will as a pizza customer. Make it great and people will drive the distance and pay the price. JJ’s makes the best of the fast food subs…ie: Subway, Quiznos…etc. You need to decide if you are a fast food sub shop or a DELI! People want healthy and it does not have to mean slow. Soups, salads, real high quality meats and cheeses…they are what that group will come for. If it cost me an extra $1 or 2 for a great sandwhich I am many others will pay for it. Make yourself stand out over the others. Look at your customer base for that mall area. Seriously check out Too Jays is a higher end deli out of Florida that takes the best of highend deli and fast service and they make it work. Pick who you want to cater too. The punch card crowd or the soccermom and businessman. Not too say that they all wont want a punch card! :wink:

Are you baking or buying rolls? Isn’t that Subway’s cost and marketing edge?

Wow, toojays average at $8.50 for a sandwich, nice. That area is more soccer moms, lot of people in this area are from the Chicago area and still work there, the commute the 45 minutes but it dosent seem to bother them.
We have a local bakery that will be making our bread and delivering it daily.

If I do go the route of the higher end Boars Head meat and charge over $5 for a 6"… i obviously cant advertise the size of the sandwiches as 6", I think people would just compare Subways $5 12" to our 6" at a much higher price. I’m not a fan of calling the subs BIG and SMALL (12" and 6") Any suggustions on the name marketing?

If we do go with the high end meat, we may be able to cut back on the cheese cost subing for a lower end… just keeping out Meat top-notch. I’m not sure.

What’s your angle with this concept - your unique selling proposition?

Well, we are going with the downtown chicago theme, so being on the higher end side is where we initially wanted to be before we seen the price factors. As far as the staple, we are looking to go heavy with custom made sauces for the sandwiches. Around 10 or so different kinds, almost like what Buffalo Wild Wings does for their wings

Although I’ve used Boar’s Head in the past, it has a high sodium % for my preference…plus, it a brand seen in grocery stores, like Publix down in Fla so it doesn’t reflect the true price of a sub, as Publix doesn’t mark it up…

We’re using Restaurant Depot brand, but no deli counter…not sure the brand really matters in the long run, if the quality is there…

Boars Head does not distribute to the chains in my area… the closest shop that carries it is a regular Market about 3 mi. north of me, then another Market about 10 mi. north of them… we would be the only sandwich serving deli in the entire suburb.

I personally never heard of Boards Head until about 3 weeks ago… as I thought Sara Lee and Jeneo where the “top” meats. So I’m not sure if the brand will be the wow factor or not.

Well I am from Chicago and was well trained that my favorite deli was 20+mins each way minimum. Personally, and sorry to question your concept, but people pack good deli’s for great meat. bread, and cheese…not sauces. Don’t play the 6" or foot long game unless you are going to play that game. Offer different breads, rolls, etc… and not just the same bread with a different sprinkled topping…ie: all of subways breads! Too Jays does great wraps with a lot of meat cheese and their cole slaw all wrapped tight and easy to eat on the run. Their desserts are top notch also. People eat healthy and then TREAT themselves with a snack! Jimmy John’s is priced at subway levels but doesnt play the size game nor the offering of 50 options! Make 12 great sandwhich options. Make sides that work with them. Keep waste down doing this. You’re a deli…mayo, lite mayo, mustard, oil & vinegar, dill spread…there is your list of sauces! Oh… and your special sauce…ie: Russian, thousands island, Mc’ds,…its all the same! :roll:

You’re at a disadvantage right out of the gate by having to buy bread. Subway’s cost for rolls is counted in pennies since they thaw, proof and bake in each shop. In an ideal world, you’d want those bought rolls to be so good that they check off a marketing box on their own.

My take is that a meat “brand” is irrelevant. I’d go for better cost to add volume for sandwiches. If it were me, I might think about a different hook, too. What would be my megaproduct? Maybe I’d smoke some hams, beef and chicken (and a cheese, too) myself to add value and an exclusive taste. Smoking reduces your cost even more and it’s easy. You can adjust and tailor the taste yourself.

It’s nice to have a product that the customer can’t go into the supermarket to buy and make themselves. You can add more value that way than just buying everything and packaging it.

That would be the added value justifying a premium price - a premium smoked meat. I wouldn’t want to compete on price against any chain. They’ll kill you. But you can kill them with a product they can’t compete with.

Good luck!

Stop brand shopping and start taste testing. One thing just keeps coming up in my mind. How often do you say “hey lets go to subway!” or any other fast food place. Not often. They are places to eat because you see them…or drive by. Now think of your favorite steak house. You plan that trip. It is a DESTINATION not just an easy meal. This is a repeat of what I say about pizza shops. Make great food and people will drive to you and pay for it! You are already talking 6" or 12"… forget it. Make A SANDWICH! Most highend deli’s will upsell extra meat and toppings and not more bread. I know this is hard to sell when looking at bottom dollars but dont cover cheap cheese with great deli meat. I agree baking bread saves money but taking the chains out…most great deli’s buy their bread from great bakeries. Starting to get the picture? Great bakery = great breads. Add great fresh meats. Add great cheese. Add fresh toppings / veggies! Dont hide under sauces! Homemade soups! Bring in the best NY cheesecakes and other highend desserts… where does this leave you? You are now a destination deli that offers GREAT sandwiches with all the right items to make it great and desserts that they do not normally have access too. Deli’s are going the route of pizza. The big boys have cheapened the entire industry. Both deli and pizza need to take back the profits of selling and providing great food and at a fair but profitable price. My favorite local steak is a 16 oz beef tenderloin served with bacon wrapped asparagus, garlic smashed pots, and salad and bread. $42. Thats local for me now…back home Chicago…say Gibsons… same meal is x2 maybe x3? People pay for destinations with great offerings and those same places dont advertise. Wonder why??? :wink: If you start in the fast food sub game then it will be very hard to ever change as people have already spread the news of the new sub shop…yeah just like SW or Quiznos…but they put sauce on everything… :?

I wanted to add my point about using all great items and not just some high and some mid-low quality…think of a deli as a bar. Do you mix Greygoose vodka with powdered mix OJ or high quality OJ? I am not paying $8-10 for a screwdriver that taste like tang! Pick which business format you want to be and then stick with it…high or low. You know what the area and market are asking for. Look and listen! :!:

I, too, struggled when we opened, as there is a Firehouse, a JimmyJohns, a Pita Pit within 500 yards of me…

I found a great proof and bake Pillsbury product that we actually cut into 3’s and bake into a rectangular shape…so we don’t do it the traditional Subway way…

We’re gonna have 3 sizes tho, cutting the loaf in half for the smallest and a double portion for the largest…

We’re putting 4 thru the oven and making 4 cold - all versions of popular or classic sandwiches…

We’re not even going the shredded lettuce route either, opting instead of a fresh romaine leaf or two…

Trying to match Subway on price is like fighting that battle with Little Ceasars. If your product is going to be better, make it different, tell the story and charge for it.

We have a Subway and a Quizno’s but the busiest shop in town is an Indy (allthough they now have three locations in other towns) that charges $8.00 and up. Sandwhiches come with a choice of four breads. When you choose a hoggie roll, it is 8". They have a menu board with about 20 choices on it.

Check them out here:

As a customer I would always choose a sandwich that uses BH meat even if it cost more. But that’s just my personal preference. I think they have great coldcuts. I don’t know about their cheese.

Boars head is the top name in deli because they market it heavy if you use a diffrent product that is still quality and high end just do the same buy saying and posting a sign that says we only sell xyz brand deli meats because its the best! Most people don’t know what grande cheese is but if you have a poster or two up that says we only use grande people feel they are getting the best just have pride in the brand you are selling and get a lot of marketing materials from your salesman and you will be golden people will assume its the finest quality if people mention boars head (they proubly wouldent) you just say yeah that’s good quality stuff but its not (xyz brand) try my sub you will taste the difference or just hand them a thin slice of turkey look at them shake your head yes and as long as its not crap they will agree!

Ok sorry but I am taking this thread a little off after the “poster” comment about what you use. I guess being in the food industry I know brands and maybe take notice every once in a while…BUT… do any other than pizza, sub, and some other sandwich shops post vendor info? NO! Put real visual character and appealing items on the wall. Artwork or something that makes people think or talk about your place. I have posted before… unless you are going head to head with price point pizza… make your place enjoyable and not sanitized and fast-foodish. How often has someone come up to you and said “hey i just ate at xyz and did you know they use Grande cheese…or BH’s meats?” etc… Back on topic… decide if you are a $5 footlong shop or an $8 deli. Then decorate to fit the business plan! :idea:

There are 2 sides to that though… When I went to Jersey Mikes for the first time to grab a sandwich, I was like whoa? Why are they priced so High as compared to everyone else? I assumed it was because of the “novelity” that they cut the meat right there in front of you and threw it right on your sandwich. But after talking with a few people, come to find out that they use Dietz & Watson meat, which is why the cost if high. Which, I am also told by those same people, is a couple steps below BH and Thummans.

Like I said before, personally I didnt know there was anything higher grade then Sara Lee and the other typical crap they sell at the supermarket. But it seems the people that eat at JM are more informed then the average Subway/Jimmy Johns eater.

You can also pretty much tell that JM is battling the Subway $5 footlong craze, by even through they area higher, they advertise they sandwiches as bigger. 7.5" and 15". Not much of a diffrence in size but in many peoples eyes, they are getting a bigger sandwich (even though it’s 2x’s the price).