After many years of hard work, sandwich shops are back in business

Sandwich shops are seeing customers returning after two difficult years.

After many years of hard work, sandwich shops are back in business

Sandwich shops are seeing customers returning after two difficult years. However, hybrid working and higher food and energy costs mean that there are still challenges.

Paul Rothe still wonders what his father would think about the pandemic lockdowns.

Rothe & Sons is run by Mr Rothe. The business, which has been in the Rothe family since 1900, is one of London's oldest sandwich shops.

In the 1960s, he took over the business from his father and now works with his son Stephen.

"During the pandemic, I've often wondered about what my father would think of it, since he had to work during World War Two," states Mr Rothe.

"I wonder if the man would have believed that the pandemic was more difficult. It would have been hard to choose between them, I believe.

The pandemic forced Marylebone's shop to close several times during the second world war, which was not the case during the other two. Mr Rothe claims that sandwich sales have almost returned to normal since we hope to end lockdowns and people are back at work - at the very least, part of the time.

He says, "We have a long line at lunchtime once again." "We are not far from where we were in 2019," he said.

Rothe & Sons claims it has rebounded strongly, but the overall picture for sandwich shops across the Atlantic is mixed.

Springboard Research's retail analyst Debbie Wehrle, who tracks footfall in retail destinations across the country, says that the main problem lies in two words: hybrid working.

Sandwich shops are likely to struggle to regain 2019 sales, as many people only go to work a few days per week.

Ms Wehrle says that hybrid working is well-established now. "Sandwich shops in London, especially in central London, will not have the same trade as they used to."

Bloomberg's "Pret Index", which tracks weekly sales figures for sandwich chain Pret A Manger in London, New York and Paris, backs her opinion.

Pret's London City sales are still below pre-pandemic levels. They were 12% lower two weeks ago.

Pret's sales in New York are far less than those in New York. The downtown branches have only 46% of the 2019 levels.

Due to the lack of regular office workers, Bross Bagels in Edinburgh closed its Edinburgh city centre location during the pandemic.

Larah Bross, owner, says that she decided not to renew her lease on the city centre premises. This was not because our company wasn't growing, but because it was assumed that even after the coronavirus was over, there wouldn't be as many people returning to work.

Another branch was also closed by the firm in Leith, the Scottish capital. The firm now has four outlets in the city, three of which are located in residential areas and less affected by hybrid work.

The business continues to offer the home delivery service it began during the pandemic. However, Ms Bross said that this year customers have started to return to the outlets in large numbers.

Bross Bagels is also active on social media which helped it connect with clients during the pandemic. "We are seeing lots of posts from customers saying #backtoworkbagel.

"The photos of bagels have changed from pictures of people sitting in their pajamas at their desks at home to those in office attire - but they still have their bagels."

Keishon Warren, the owner of BKLYN Blend in Brooklyn, New York, said that it was the support from the Brooklyn community that helped him through the pandemic.

He also expressed gratitude for the 2020 initiatives to support black-owned businesses in the US during the epidemic, such as the Coalition to Back Black Businesses.

BKLYN Blend, like many other food service companies, refocused its delivery efforts during the pandemic. However, it also felt confident enough to open a second branch in September 2020.

Mr Warren says that people begged us to open the indoor seating once the lockdown was lifted so they could have that interaction again. "Now, we see a lot more people coming in to work on their laptops.

"We are seeing sales return to pre-pandemic levels."

Even for sandwiches bars that survived the pandemic there are still challenges, including rising food and energy costs.

Jim Winship, Director at the British Sandwich Association, says that food prices are rising all the time and that some businesses cannot get ingredients. "We have lurched from the pandemic to now an emergency in terms of supply chain problems and rampant energy prices."

The New Economy series explores how fast businesses, trade, economies, and work life are changing.

Paul Rothe is just one of many business owners who are dealing with rising ingredients costs. He says that a case of butter used to cost us PS39.99 right after Christmas and now it costs us PS69."

"Most things are rising, it's just about keeping your finger on profit margins."

Larah Bross sees staff shortages as the main problem. She attributes this to the fact that former hospitality workers were forced to seek work in other areas of the economy during the pandemic. She says, "It was a realization that you could work at home and you didn't need to travel to serve tables."

"I feel that the younger generation is not as inspired to host like I thought they were."

Ms. Bross is determined, however, to revive a love for the industry. She says, "I have a lot of hospitality friends and many of them have lost their will." "I want it to get back up and become part of the revolution. To keep positive and show people that hospitality can be fun by using our audience."

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