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May 21, 2019

And the survey says…

By heeding their customers, Hello Sarnie has managed to create a new stage of growth. Yes. In winter.

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  • Words: Josh Fanning
  • Pictures: Josh Geelen

When a cold front hits West Terrace and the wind and rain funnels down Currie and Waymouth Streets it instantly raises the tempo of pedestrians’ footsteps. People hold onto umbrellas, scoot over roads and median strips, hug walls to stay under eves and stride purposefully towards the doors of their destination.

Winter is a bummer for pedestrians but it’s also felt acutely by our city’s food and beverage operators, who regularly cut back staff and opening hours as their trade feels the bite of our cold weather.

Hello Sarnie, however, says the wet weather in May has actually seen an upturn at their Pirie Street and Gawler Place stores.

“When it’s cold, people tend to stay in their area which, I believe, assists us,” says Andrew Pearce. “People know they can come down and get something quick and convenient and shoot back up to their office.”

Chicken Waldolf Salad

Chicken Chipotle Sarnie


With a little more inquiry, we discover also that Hello Sarnie has also been promoting their new winter menu heavily and have adopted a range of updates to their business formula thanks to a customer survey they undertook in early Autumn.

“The customer survey was paramount to understanding so much more about our business,” says Andrew. “Serving from the counter, you’ve almost got your blinkers on. You’re head down bum up, just getting through the day. But the customer survey gave us some real indicators of what our guests want, what our people want.”

Hello Sarnie has always positioned itself as an agile food business in the highly competitive lunch market, but their dedication to updating their systems and formulas is more akin to a tech start-up than a sandwich shop.

Growth has always been the goal of Andrew and business partner, Mike Kendall-Smith. We wrote about the genesis and expansion, but the two entrepreneurs keep popping up on our radar thanks to their continual schedule of in-store updates and back-of-house innovations.

We’re customers of Hello Sarnie’s Pirie Street store, so we are thrilled with the announcement of a new sandwich on the menu – a ‘chef’s special’ that will change regularly.

One thing that was clear from the survey was our customers wanted menu change,” says Andrew. “Every month or so we’ll have a new chef’s special sandwich. We’ll be looking at local produce, what’s in season, and making delicious things of the moment.”

Hello Sarnie’s customer survey showed Andrew and Mike they had some incredibly loyal customers. The downside? Regular customers wanted more options. But rather than simply add sandwiches to the menu and potentially lose their tight grip on quality control, the pair decided to accentuate what makes them different in the lunch market – ie: they’re chef makes everything from scratch in their kitchen – daily.

“I’d rather do the seven sandwiches that I know we do well and to the best of our ability, than do 12 and they’re just alright,” says Andrew.

With soups and toasted sandwiches and their new chefs special the company has reported an upturn in trade this winter.

“Our chef said something, just off the cuff when he was presenting his new menu to the staff and us for the first time. He said all we’re trying to do is ‘warm up our customers – from the inside out’,” says Andrew. “I think when you look at what we’re doing with this new menu, you’ll see that motivation first hand.”


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