Gino & Paquita
- small budget
- deliver / take away
- fast food / sandwich shop
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When you think about it, there are many different sorts of food and recipes to inspire us when creating a catering concept. However, ideas are not limitless especially when working on a tight budget.
I recently heard about a “puree-bar” about 400km from where I live. What a pity I won’t get to see it before it closes down. I wish the owner no ill but I have to say I am very skeptical about the pertinence of such a concept. I know from experience how difficult it is to come up with innovative and commercially viable ideas. If you want a concept to work you have to either change the way you sell or present your product or you have to import a foreign idea, or you have to unite several concepts.
In this concept we’re going to use products from 2 different countries, united to create a sort of sandwich bar which we will deliberately position at the top end of the market.
Let me introduce you to the bruschetta which I’m sure you know is Italian and which we’re going to pair off with the Montadito which is an adorable little Spanish sandwich. You’ll soon see I didn’t choose them at random. It’s like a marriage of convenience, one which your cash register will love!
You should set up business in a densely populated area in either the centre of a town of at least 50,000 inhabitants or in a busy shopping area in the suburbs. Rather than talk about the size of your catchment area, let’s focus on the quality of that area. You must steer clear of any underprivileged areas. You won’t necessarily need a wealthy clientele; aim for a clientele in the average to high income bracket. If you don’t have a background in marketing, just take a look at the type of shops and big brand names in the area, observe their prices and see if they’re doing a good trade. The area you choose must be bustling.
According to your budget choose a premises between 65m² and 110m². Smoke extraction may not be necessary but you’ll need to check the regulations. The material you’ll need won’t cost you a fortune: an oven, a salamander and a display counter will be the costliest items.
Your interior decoration should be tasteful and contemporary. I suggest dark laminate flooring and walls painted in two soothing shades. The lighting should be soft. The furniture will consist of a few tables and chairs and a few tables to eat standing up. Keep objects of decoration to a strict minimum. Pleasant background music will add to your trendy, modern ambiance. There will be no chance of anyone mistaking your place for the local kebab!
Now for the food. Let’s begin by taking a closer look at the bruschetta/montadito partner-ship. Firstly, I think that, taken alone, neither one of these products would be enough to build a concept upon. A few concepts based on bruschettas do exist and there is a chain devoted solely to montaditos in Spain. On the other hand, I think that uniting the two products will create a real war machine!
From a practical point of view there is one very important observation to make: your montaditos could be prepared before opening, all laid out and waiting for the customers. Small stacks of those cute little sandwiches 9*4cm look very enticing. The bruschettas will mostly be made to order, right in front of the customer –this reinforces the idea of freshness and quality.
As I mentioned earlier, there are places that sell bruschettas but the truth is that most of them use vacuum-packed or frozen produce. Which is a far cry from your authentic bruschetta.
A bruschetta is made using a large slice of French sourdough country bread or ciabatta bread which is spread with tomato sauce and toasted under the grill.
It’s vital to choose the right toppings. Find a supplier of high quality bread or make it yourself. It’s probably best to make your bruschetta no bigger than 20cm*8 or 9cm.
I won’t go into detail here about recipes as you’ll find everything you need on the internet or in specialized cookbooks. But it’s my pleasure to share with you some of my personal favourites; you’ll see that a bruschetta can be something almost gastronomic when the most unexpected ingredients are used.
-top with goat’s cheese, melt under the grill then drizzle with olive oil, add capres and a few rinced and dried anchovies.
-top with Roquefort or gorgonzola and slices of grilled aubergine. Melt under the grill, then add wafer thin slices of cured Italian ham.
-top with a Duxelles (chopped mushrooms, shallots and herbs cooked in butter and cream) and parmesan. Melt under the grill. Add a few slices of smoked duck breast.
-spread with a tomato sauce and black olives. Grill briefly. Top with one or two fillets of red mullet (bones removed). Return under the grill for 30-60 seconds, then drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkle with fleur de sel (hand harvested sea salt).
-melt some smoked scamorza (Italian cheese) on top, then drizzle with olive oil and add a little bresaola (dried and salted Italian beef).
Before opening, try out all your recipes and experiment. You will, of course, have found a supplier of all the necessary packaging and containers for take-away.
Now for the montaditos. Again, no need to complicate matters, I would advise you to fish for ideas on the Spanish chain restaurant “100 montaditos” website (they are considered a reference in the field).
However I would advise you to select only the easiest, most straight-forward types of sandwiches. I have eaten in “100 montaditos” several times and the very idea of having 100 sandwiches to choose from is, to my mind, ludicrous. The concept seems to be bogged down by the promise of 100 different sandwiches and to keep that promise they have had to create hot montaditos which quite frankly are not a great success. Their premises are every bit as big and costly as traditional fast-food restaurants but with a much lower turnover –so much for profitability!
So I would say between 20 and 25 good quality montaditos will suffice. Be inspired for the sandwich fillings by the French-style pains surprise and petits fours found in the main chains of frozen food. Sell your pretty little montaditos by 3, nicely presented in a little box. Charge a fixed price for 3 and after 12 or 15 sandwiches, the price will be cheaper. This product is quite chic and upmarket, an image you’ll have to promote. A few boxes of montaditos would be perfect for a lunchtime business meeting, an evening in front of the TV, an improvised picnic, a poker evening….
Copy the example of the more up-market sandwich bars when selecting desserts and beverages.
Have some flyers with your menu printed but what works best in this sort of concept is word of mouth.
Congratulations Gino and Paquita, may you enjoy a long and happy life together!