How many people can serve two people in a sandwich/smoothie shop?

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Joined Feb 5, 2021
Hi everyone, I would like to hear as many opinions about this subject as possible as every person tells me a different thing.

Me and my wife will open a sandwich shop together and while doing some math I estimated that together we could handle up to 50 orders for lunch, after being done serving breakfast. I expect a time span for lunch of about 2 hours, like 12pm to 2pm, so we would serve 50 people in 2 hours being the two of us.

The idea would be to open for breakfast and lunch and close early afternoon, like 6:30am - 3:30pm, preparing the ingredients for the sandwiches ahead, storing them in one of those fridges with different compartments, and just tossing them on the fry top with the bread when an order is placed. While sandwiches would be the main sale we would also offer smoothies, coffees and a dish of the day (also pre-made and just kept warm for lunch) and I was just wondering if with these numbers we will end up either being really rushed and stressed, offering a poor customer experience with people waiting a long time or if it's actually a good estimate for 2 people with a couple of years of experience in the field and doing relatively simple tasks, having to manage several things, from taking orders to preparing sandwiches, smoothies and others. I'm planning on having a kind of self service where once the order is ready the customer comes and get the food.

Thanks in advance for your opinions!
 
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Joined Mar 1, 2017
Its not so much how many you will serve during any given service. The question that matters is how many at one time can be served?

Based upon what you've outlined here, I think you're estimates are very ambitious.

Even if the menu is breakfast and sandwiches, there's quite a bit of logistics that go into it that I don't think you're factoring into the scheme of things.

Is it just you and your wife or will there be some staff? If so, how many?

How many tables do you have?

How are your meat products sources? Pre-sliced? Whole? Made on site?

Who is doing the ingredient prep? 90 minutes is not a lot of time.

Who is in the kitchen doing dishes, mopping, and cleaning up?

If its just you and your wife, this seems like a very big undertaking.

:)
 
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Joined Feb 5, 2021
Its not so much how many you will serve during any given service. The question that matters is how many at one time can be served?

Based upon what you've outlined here, I think you're estimates are very ambitious.

Even if the menu is breakfast and sandwiches, there's quite a bit of logistics that go into it that I don't think you're factoring into the scheme of things.

Is it just you and your wife or will there be some staff? If so, how many?
I was planning on just being the two of us at the beginning and then grow, opening at night too and eventually have someone take over gradually while we try to open new locations.

How many tables do you have?
This is something I’m trying to decide and this is why I thought about asking opinions here. If serving a peak of 50 people is too ambitious I wouldn’t obviously try to have that many seats. Also because I expect it to work with delivery as well. But let’s pretend that 50 is actually doable, I would aim to at least 25-30 seats.

How are your meat products sources? Pre-sliced? Whole? Made on site?
No animal products. It will be plant based, the first in a radius of tens of miles but in a city that’s kind of progressive and where this market seems to be thriving. The products would mainly be pre made between breakfast and lunch or in some cases the day before, like marinated ingredients. The rest would be simple stuff that we can store for at least a few days and we would make it or buy in bulk like packed stuff or dips that we make.
Who is doing the ingredient prep? 90 minutes is not a lot of time.
We would do the ingredient prep between breakfast and lunch, ideally between 8:30-9 and 11:30. One would be in charge of the actual preparing while the other one could take care of the dishes and cleaning and serve the few people I expect to come during these hours, but this is one thing I’m not super sure about. I can’t figure how many people I’ll have coming outside of the peak hours.
Who is in the kitchen doing dishes, mopping, and cleaning up?
Ideally after peak time breakfast one of us would clean and the other would remain available for customers (as I said I don’t expect many between breakfast and lunch). Then start preparing for lunch, and during lunch one would be making the sandwiches and the other would manage smoothies and/or coffees/drinks and the cash register. At the end we clean everything up, and do the closing stuff.
If its just you and your wife, this seems like a very big undertaking.

:)

I thought 50 people because there would be lots of pre preparation with little to do, but I’m indeed looking for other opinions because maybe I am missing some important details
 
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Joined Feb 8, 2009
When My wife and I are in NYC we go to a Cuban place for lunch named Sophies. The place is real busy for lunch. I always order a Cuban sandwich. Because of the rush and popularity of the Cuban sand they make up a batch of them minus the sauce and Plantains if wanted. All this being said, you don't know until you know. Also take your 2 hour time frame. Two hours is 120 minutes. That means you're going to get 50 people in and served in about 2 1/2 minutes for each person. When I run my operations, I make sure I don't have a multitude of time consuming items. I may also have hot specials that can be served up in a minute. You need to rethink your menu and how you figure to accomplish it. The Smoothies and coffee drinks are also time consuming. You'll need a few more people working during the busy times.....ChefBillyB
 
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Joined Nov 9, 2020
I can't see it working...

You have a breakfast service, say 6 to 9... Lunch from 11 to what, 2 or 3? So... you have to set up for breakfast (say 4:30 to 6), do your opening admin stuff, clean the place, etc... Then at 9 you have exactly 120 minutes to (a) do your breakfast clean up (dishes, grill bricking, etc.), break down and stow Breakfast, note what you need to prep for tomorrows breakfast, clean your dining room, do your breakfast admin stuff, and set up for lunch service (forget prep)... and do lunch from (I'm guessing) 11 to 3... 3:00, you close, do your cash and admin, put your food away, do your cleaning, trash duty, THEN prep for tomorrow's breakfast (and lunch, because you ran out of time between services), order supplies, make sure you're ready for tomorrow, do your back of house cleaning, mopping, garbage, checking everything twice, then do any needed repairs, mop out the restrooms, hose off the sidewalk... MAYBE get out at 8 or 9PM... go home, and be back in 7 1/2 hours to start it all over again...

2 people you will beat yourself to death. Add to that if you're only expecting 50 covers, you will not be getting rich anytime soon... Just the ongoing stocking, maintenance, and "cooking" duties during service will run you around. Anguish will set in, desperation, exhaustion, the fights will start...

I've seen this attempted before. Heck, my best friend and I attempted to do this before. What seems like it *should* be easy isn't. You have to be realistic as to what you can do in an 18 hour day... without killing yourself or your marriage. I'm not saying it CAN'T be done, but maintaining it will be a slog, and what sounds like a fun business venture now can easily become a heartbreaker.

Good luck, my friend.
 
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Joined Feb 5, 2021
Thank you all for your answers and time, it's definitely appreciated. As I thought I still need to do some work on the planning part and your opinions confirmed it.
Thank you again
 
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Joined Oct 31, 2012
In the hope that you are still reading replies, I offer this advice. I did what you are planning.
L'uovo doesn't want to say it can't be done. I'm saying it can't be done. Not with just you and your wife.
You will need employees. More than one and most likely two per day.
There will simply be too much to do and you want to work smarter, not harder. The day(s) will be flying by fast. An exigent circumstance is one that arises unexpectedly. Your days will be filled with them.
In the middle of business the phone will ring. Too often. You have to answer it. It may be a short call or a long call but customers are waiting.
Five minutes after you open the door, you will be meeting people. They will want to get to know you
and talk. You will want to get to know them. Sometimes a simple chat, sometimes not.
The first weeks you are open, several things will break, sometimes in the middle of service.
You will constantly make discoveries about your bad decision making and have to come up with an appropriate response right away. "(This covers every area of your business). This will eat up your time.
I didn't read how many days you plan to be open. Not seven days, I hope. You will need at least one day to rest, recuperate and get things done. Plus you and your wife need a day away from the business just to keep your sanity. Once you have trusted employees and systems in place, you can stay open without being there.
Get a sales tax account at the bank if your state requires you to collect sales tax. It doesn't amount to much each day but it will be an enormous amount when it is due and you spent the money on something that broke down. The bank will explain how the system works but this is one of the smartest moves you can make. Not doing it is criminally stupid. The tax isn't your money for one second.
You will serve great products and adjust your products based on customer reactions. This means that very quickly you will be doing not 50 orders but 150. Be prepared.
I found Quickbooks with the online support program to be enormously helpful for payroll. Payroll services for small businesses are costly and want you to figure out the hours employees worked before they do anything. Figuring out employee hours IS payroll. Computer programs like quickbooks make the job much easier.
Get a great accountant and listen to them. Tax breaks, write offs, etc.
Figure out how to prepare your breakfast set up the night before. When you open in the morning, it should be as simple a routine as possible. Set up all daily repetitive behaviors as simple, no thought needed routines.
Keep a log book of as many things as possible. Keep entries short and succinct. When repairs are made, purchases, daily business, holiday business, people met, etc. This will help in future for various reasons.
Expect the unexpected all the time. Plan all you want but something always comes up.
Did I mention the days will go fast? You will arrive each day with plans and expectations only to discover things aren't going according to plan. So you adjust accordingly... Oops, days over. Time to go home and try again tomorrow.
 
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