opened its restaurant doors May 3 of last year and it was greeted by and on Lake Cook Road almost immediately after it began serving food.
Though Sarnies’ Sous Chef and Assistant Manager Matt Maynard, who has been there since the start, is pleased with the business’s performance, he has no way to gauge how much the eatery has recovered from the business loss arising from the roadwork.
“Lake Cook Road was a killer,” Maynard said. “We can’t be sure (about a rebound) because we haven’t been here long enough.”
Owned by Northbrook based , the business expected challenges when it began operations.
“To open a restaurant like this is an enormous challenge and to do it under these circumstances made the challenges extremely challenging,” Maynard said. “We knew there would be a drop off (because of the construction).”
Just driving to work got the message across as Maynard drove from the Tollway exit near Wilmot Road to the restaurant.
“There were days when it took me to 25 minutes to get here from 294,” he said. “I knew it would take people too long to come here for lunch and get back. They only have an hour.”
Nevertheless, Sarnies had a vision of what it wanted to be when it opened, stuck to that mission and made necessary adjustments along the way.
“We are primarily about excellent burgers and sandwiches. We are very family friendly,” Maynard said. “There is always fresh bread in the basket,” he added referring to the restaurants baking roots.
There is a large display of bread visible to customers walking in the front door. Beer is another specialty. “We have a very special beer selection,” Maynard said. “We have 20 to 25 blends, maybe more.”
Despite being proud of the product mix, Maynard and his colleagues had to make adjustments from the start when the construction touched sales. They also became hard working marketing ambassadors.
“With any new place you know you will have to operate at a loss for a period of time,” Maynard said. “We used minimal numbers where we could so we weren’t too shocked. We knew how to keep waste (of food) very low. We adjusted staff.”
Catering was developed as Maynard and his colleagues began to reach out to businesses in the area like Walgreens, Beam and others. They have done promotions with the Boy Scouts and the Deerfield Youth Baseball Association.
Sarnies has another mission which is serving as a laboratory for Highland Baking. Creativity with sandwiches is encouraged. When Sarnies has a winner, Highland’s sales crew introduces the new item to its customers.
With construction returning to Lake Cook Road next year, Maynard hopes for some relief. “,” he said. He has his own solution. “Revenue will solve all your problems.”