How to Start a Small Sandwich Shop

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Starting a small sandwich shop is a rewarding venture. It isn’t complicated, but it takes a lot of work. Finding the perfect location, completing all of the government requirements, getting equipment and supplies and creating the menu takes a lot of time. No special skills are necessary for opening a sandwich shop, but starting a business requires a small amount of start-up capital for building rent, utilities, equipment and supplies.

Find a good location. Sandwich shops do well in heavily-populated areas, especially near colleges, hospitals or large business districts. Try to find a small shop with enough room for a small kitchen and seating area. Smaller shops cost less, and the electric bill runs lower than in large buildings.

Check with your local tax office, and get a sales tax license. Learn what types of licenses you need to start your business. Most areas require a sales tax license and a business license. In some areas, both local and state business licenses are required.

Get equipment for your sandwich shop. Get a microwave for heating small items. You need a cold bar with a refrigerator underneath. Bins are placed in the top of the cold bar, so the actual refrigerator is not opened often. If you want hot rolls or other heated items, get a hot bar. All restaurants require a three-compartment sink for cleaning dishes, and a second sink for washing hands.

Find suppliers for your restaurant needs. Sandwich shops require breads, fresh vegetables, meats, cheeses, beverages, wrapping paper, salad containers, cups, lids and utensils. Request a drink dispenser and drinks from your chosen company at least a month in advance. Some companies are slow about installing their machines.

Create a menu using the work processing program of your choice, and include prices for everything your shop offers -- sandwiches, salads, side dishes, beverages and desserts. Also create a price list for party trays and catering options.

Scrub down the whole building, and make sure everything is spotless. Make sure the walls are a smooth, easily-wiped surface. If something looks dingy after washing, repaint it, so it will look neat. Schedule a health department inspection. You want a perfect score the first time, so you will start off well with the people who inspect your shop.

Put tables, chairs or booths in the restaurant. Leave plenty of space between tables, so the restaurant is wheelchair-accessible.

Hire any employees needed for the sandwich shop, and train them. Train employees on the cash register, sanitation procedures and food preparation techniques. Have a practice day where employees invite friends or family members, and let each person order one free entree. Staff members should practice ringing up orders, making the food and serving the customers. This gets the employees ready for opening day, and people who like the food will spread the word.

Start advertising your business in advance. Hand out fliers to people in stores, parking lots and to friends. Post fliers in businesses, and give fliers to local businesses. Set up a page on Facebook for your restaurant. Go on Twitter, and send out Twitter announcements to all of your friends telling them about your business. Make a web page online, and put a printable coupon on your website. There is plenty of free web space available, and most of them offer easy-to-use web page builders.


  • Never drive around neighborhoods putting fliers in or on mailboxes. If you are caught, you will end up paying postage on each flier.


Photo Credits

  • Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images