Feeling a bit peckish at the office but don’t have time to head to a café with colleagues for your lunch hour? Don’t stress, Hello Sarnie has got you sorted and now that we’ve teamed up with them over here at Mlkman, delicious and nutritious office lunches have never been easier.
Offering handmade prepackaged breakfast and lunch options that are made fresh daily, in their own on-site kitchen. Hello Sarnie boasts a huge range of healthy salads, soups, sandwiches, baguettes, and sweet treats to have alongside a coffee. We caught up with co-owner Andrew Pearce to talk sarnies and find out more about the idea behind the business.
Who is behind Hello Sarnie?
Myself [Andrew Pearce] and Mike Kendall-Smith.
What inspired you to open the café?
Myself and Mike are both from the UK, where handmade pre-packaged food is all the rage, we wanted to bring a piece of home to our new Australian home. The ‘lightbulb’ moment came about two-and- a-half years ago, when both Mike and I worked in the city, I called him up one to catch up for lunch.
We really fancied a decent sort of grab-and- go prepackaged sandwich, which wasn’t going to cost the earth. An experience we had both grown up with from a similar sort of business in the UK. There’s literally nowhere to go to get a decent (as we call it) sarnie. This got the cogs moving slowly and over a beer we started talking over it in a bit more detail. We started to conduct in-depth research to find if there was a niche in the market.
As the research and development started to snowball we released that there was a hole in the market for a brand to offer convenient, healthy, freshly made daily, on- the-go food to Australia. On-the- go means giving time back to the consumer, they do not have to queue for long or wait for it to be made, we come in early to ensure that all our products are ready to ‘grab and go’ by 11am and with a price-point to match.
We wanted to create a business that has habitual visitors, to create a regular/loyal customer base was the key for us. To take the burden out of making lunches, we want our customers to have the mind set of…“What am I gonna take in for lunch today, what should I do? I might just get in the office and go to Sarnie for lunch ‘cause it’s not gonna break the bank and I know it’s made fresh daily and with good nutritional ingredients.”
You will not find any additives or preservatives in our food, everything is made using fresh ingredients daily…from our mayonnaise, to our dips, to our soups, salads and sandwiches. Whatever we don’t sell at the end of each day, we donate to charity at night. Cos fresh is best!
You’re so right though, Adelaide is mostly based around café culture. There’s lot of options for nice healthy meals, but it’s a bit harder when you want to get something quick.
Yeah, like you said there’s plenty of knife and fork options, that’s what Mike and I call it between ourselves.
We believe we have created a brand that is… Quick and convenient now meets nutritious and delicious
Whereabouts in the UK are you from?
I was just thinking, the concept reminds me of Pret A Manger.
That’s exactly the concept. Mike and I have never claimed that fact that we created or stared healthy pre-packaged breakfast and lunch options. Hello Sarnie is our take on it. We both grew up in and I went to uni in London and Pret was a definite frequent lunchtime and breakfast-time visit of myself and Mike.
In 2011 my wife and I went back to the UK and again in 2014, and when Mike returned back from a visit back home that’s what inspired the conversation to create Hello Sarnie. My Wife has also experience Pret from her own travels and was well behind Hello Sarnie, she saw that there was a hole in the market to be filled with something similar.
Have you had much experience in hospitality before?
Yes, pretty much all my previous experience is within hospitality. My first job was as a dishy at the local hotel. So I worked there throughout my high school and college years and uni days and when I came to Australia my first job was at the Adelaide Casino. Then my next job was at Cocolat, the chocolate café on Rundle Street. That’s where I met Mike. I worked my way up from a customer service individual on the shop floor to the supervisor of that store, and as the company grew up I took on the role of marketing manager for them. And after that I had a quick stint over in the UK, and when I came back I was working for national franchise Wok In A Box as their national market manager. So I’ve always been around food retail in some points.
You have quite a high rotation of meal options – do you have much say in the menu or does a chef take care of that?
We do have a fully qualified chef in the kitchen. From a menu standpoint obviously myself, Mike and Ben, our chef, have a discussion around what’s on trend, what’s in season and that’s really the foundations of selecting menu choices from a sarnie to soups or salad. And then obviously the process of how easy it is to collate, obviously there’s no point in putting caviar in a sandwich and trying to charge $300 for it – it’s not gonna fit with our brand and the demographic we’re trying to target.
From a menu rotation standpoint, the soups change weekly. We’ve just introduced a winter menu so that’s pretty much a whole overhaul of the menu, a few subtle changes to the top sellers, like I said seasonal produce, but then at the same time we try and keep innovative and change things over every two weeks. So maybe there might be a sweet option one week and then a new sarnie or baguette or wrap might come on. Obviously like I said, you’ve got habitual visitors creating the business because of brand loyalty, but also to keep that loyalty you need to be innovative at the same time.
Do you have desserts too?
Starting today we have a new product on the shelf, the rocky road brownie. Especially in the colder months we’ve come to realize that the sweet tooth of the individual comes out, it definitely does in myself! Having that option as well for people to have a sarnie and something sweet for afterwards, is good. I mean it’s no secret that we have a lot of bread options and these products do tend to lead towards a sweeter finish whether that is a rocky road brownie or a chocolate hazelnut mousse pot. They’re the sweet side of things but we do a black rice and a mango passion puree pot and a carrot and walnut loaf so there are healthier spins on other sweet treats.
Do you cater towards vegetarians, vegans and celiacs?
Absolutely. We do find vegan – harder to cater for – not only do we have to be more careful from a production side in the kitchen, but also be more mindful when selection produce. We do and have catered for vegan customers and we do our absolute best to cater for any dietary requirement. Our chef is actually celiac himself so we see that as a positive from a business standpoint because he’s very mindful of wheat and gluten in products. Again, in innovation and menu selection, that’s another thing that plays on our mind – it’s where we can get the supply chain from to guarantee it’s gluten-free. But gluten-free and vegetarian options are definitely aday-to- day product at Sarnie and vegan options will definitely increase as we find our feet – I mean, we’re only nine months old – so we understand there’s a market for it but we’d rather be not the jack of all trades and the master of none so we focus on each part at a time. Ben our chef and Mike, who run the kitchen and take control of the food behind the business see that there’s definitely a hole in our business from a vegan [perspective] and maybe more gluten-free products.