American sandwiches arrive in London!
We spoke with Which Wich Founder, Jeff Sinelli, as his US brand arrives in the UK
Thank you for doing this Q&A with us Jeff. Can you start by telling us a little about yourself - where in the States are you from?
I was born in Detroit, Michigan and grew up in the area. I was there through college at Michigan State University, then eventually migrated to Dallas in the 1990s.
You've recently opened your first Which Wich store in London, but I wanted to ask about how you got started in the food and entertainment industry - from reading your interview with Fortune magazine in 2017, it sounds like you started pretty much from scratch?
I started at the age of 11 with a lemonade stand! From there, I progressively learned the industry through my father who was in the nightclub business. After I moved to Dallas, I began in the bar and nightclub sector and eventually founded my first concept, Genghis Grill. In 2003, I developed Which Wich.
What caught your attention in the sandwich industry that led to the Which Wich concept?
I LOVE sandwiches and I love franchising, helping other people in entrepreneurial businesses. In the late '90s and early 2000s, Subway Sandwiches was really the predominant brand in the category. I just knew I could do it better.
How did you come up with the 'Which Wich' name?
I’ve always been partial to alliterative names, like many iconic global brands (ie Coca-Cola, Krispy Kreme, Shake Shack, American Airlines). Plus, our name, Which Wich, asks a question: “Which (sand)wich would you like?”
American brands are proving to be a big hit in the UK right now, with the likes of Denny's having recently emerged in the UK, along with others like Five Guys and Shake Shack. Why do you think American brands are beginning to find such success in the UK?
I can speak for my category. There really is a dearth of warm or toasted sandwich options in London. I think Europe is ready for the next generation of sandwiches that offer exciting, curated, elevated and experiential dining in a quick service atmosphere.
Have you made any changes to the menu for your new UK store, or have you tried to keep it as authentically American as possible?
With every international country, we allow for slight adaptations to suit that audience’s tastes and traditions.
As a franchise operation, how do you maintain the same quality and style when moving to an international location like the UK?
It all starts with making sure we have selected good partners. As with the case in our UK expansion, we rely on experienced and impassioned owners to be our ambassadors on the ground.
One of the projects Which Wich is involved in is Project PB&J, which is all about spreading the love and helping communities in Texas. Will people be able to get involved in the Project with the new UK store?
Project PB&J is something dear to our company’s culture. It started as a vehicle to fulfil our Brand’s Mission Statement to make the world a better place. We chose to do that thorough feeding people in need. More information and latest developments can be found at projectpbj.org.
What do you hope visitors to your new Which Wich branch in London take away from the experience?
In addition to a great sandwich, I hope they have memorable experience. I hope our interaction with the guest is more than a transaction. We want to provide respite to people’s busy and often chaotic lives and give them an opportunity to settle in and enjoy a unique wich in a vibrant atmosphere.
Do you have much of a chance to visit the UK? If so, is there anything you particularly enjoy doing in Britain when you have the chance?
I was just there for our first London opening. This was particularly exciting for me because I was able to share the experience with my family. This was my daughters, Story and Sky’s, first trip to the UK and they were enthralled with all the sights and sounds the city has to offer.
Which Wich's first UK store is located near Tottenham Court Road Tube Station, at Unit 8, Central St. Giles, London WC2H 8AG. Find out more at www.whichwich.co.uk
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