Adelaide-made grab-and-go sandwich brand Hello Sarnie has used COVID as an opportunity to strengthen its brand, opening a third CBD store on Waymouth Street.
Hello Sarnie opens on Waymouth Street
CityMag caught up with Hello Sarnie co-founder Andrew Pearce back in May, in the depths of the pandemic, to see how their business was coping.
“When the crisis hit,” Andrew told us at the time, “so did the stress and the panic.”
Months later, mid-morning on a Monday in late July, we meet with Andrew once again to talk about his business, and he has much brighter news to share: Hello Sarnie is opening its third store.
On Thursday, 6 August, Hello Sarnie opened its new store at the 11 Waymouth Street Plaza development, offering its signature range of sandwiches, wraps, and salads, as well as a new line of ready meals.
The space is instantly familiar – forest green tiles, grey terrazzo, and light timber throughout – but with screws tightened on the design by Sans-Arc.
Hello Sarnie’s previous two stores were designed in-house, but this third store was an opportunity to make a statement of intent for the future of the brand.
“With the design, we wanted to tighten the bolts, I guess. Raise the level of the brand,” Andrew says.
“I feel as well, with so much competition around, some great competition around [on Waymouth], I feel that we needed to lift the bar on our own game as well.
“We basically questioned ourselves with everything. We went to Sans-Arc with this bunch of problems to fix,” he laughs.
Throughout the COVID shutdown, Andrew and his business partners were given a lot of time to reconsider their brand, and what it is they do well. They were also provided with an opportunity (to put it overly optimistically) to try new concepts within the business.
Looking back at the last few months, Andrew recalls being in near-constant “survival mode.”
“We didn’t even know if the business would survive, let alone undertake another shop,” he says.
“We basically put the whole project on ice. The new landlords down at 11 Waymouth were fantastic. They were really understanding, and they were like, ‘We just want to keep building the whole precinct,’ because… they could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“We reopened up the project probably late May, early June, because obviously government support came in, which was fantastic. Obviously, we thought the business would survive the pandemic.”
Andrew cautions that his business is by no means “out of the woods”, but he did find that Hello Sarnie had built a platform that was completely adaptable to the constraints of the pandemic.
“Basically, the customer picks up their own product. It’s literally contactless,” he says.
“I know it’s a bit of a buzzword, contactless, but it’s even safer than going to like for like businesses – so we felt we could be in an even stronger position by doing that. And I feel what that has done is made me look at our business and how we market our business a bit better.
“Everyone can say the buzzwords of ‘convenience’, ‘fresh’, ‘price-cautious’ – whatever those words are. But how are we different to our competitors? And I think that’s allowed us to pivot our marketing a bit more defined, and build that trust in our customers even more so.”
Amid the panic of the pandemic, Hello Sarnie tried many new things – grocery boxes and fruit packs, not all of which stuck. But the brand did incorporate a new ready meal line, microwavable packs of curries and the like.
Hello Sarnie’s head chef Ben Allen worked alongside the brand’s co-founder Mike Kendall-Smith to design the range, which regularly introduces new dishes.
“It’s still made by us, locally sourced ingredients,” Andrew says, “so it still sits under the brand umbrella. It’s not like we’re doing something totally left field, but it just adds another element to the business and its offering.”
South Australia, too, is not out of the woods yet – we’ve seen new restrictions and a number of new cases within the state.
But Hello Sarnie has ridden the wave of COVID-19 so far, and, in opening a new store, doubling down on their vision for the brand and what it does well, Andrew and his business partners are ready to navigate the pandemic for the benefit of their loyal customers.
The one thing that we’ve always said is, yep, let’s get all those government guidelines right, but if we can still create some form of normality for people, I think that’s what they want,” Andrew says.
Hello Sarnie is open at 11 Waymouth Street from 7am ‘til 4pm Monday through Friday.