Winnipeg is about to host another "first-in-Canada" restaurant chain, with the opening early in the new year of the first Earl of Sandwich location in the country.
There was an actual Earl of Sandwich, and legend has it he did invent the sandwich 250 years ago. The chain’s marketing twist is that an actual descendent of the Earl of Sandwich is a partner in the Orlando, Fla.-based fast-casual restaurant chain. It has around 30 locations in 13 U.S. states and one at Disneyland Paris.
And soon there will be one in Winnipeg on Sterling Lyon Parkway across the road from Ikea in the 80-acre mixed-use Seasons of Tuxedo retail project. (The 1,500 square foot building is complete and the projected opening date is early in the new year.)
The chain riffs off the sandwich inventor in its graphics and design.
It’s a fun story. But for Laurent Raymond and his wife, the Winnipeg franchisees, what’s more important is they love the sandwiches and they believe many people in Winnipeg will, as well.
"We started off as customers," Raymond said.
"My wife and I go to Las Vegas now and then. And whenever we went, we always dropped by at Earl of Sandwich. We loved their hot sandwiches, the bread is fantastic. There’s salads and soups and sweet snacks. We just fell in love with the sandwich."
Raymond has been a partner with his brothers in a hotel in Pine Falls, Man., and still owns a gas station there.
His two daughters will be running the Earl of Sandwich restaurant.
"We’re very fortunate," Raymond said. "Both our daughters are very driven. Even when they were young tykes, they were helping out at the hotel. They have been in the business from the get-go."
The family owns the franchise rights for all of Manitoba and hopes that if there is a good enough response to the brand, it will be opening more locations around the city.
"We chose the Seasons location out of two or three we were looking at because we believe it is an up-and-coming neighbourhood."
It will be the first Canadian location for the Earl of Sandwich chain. Raymond said the corporate support out of Orlando "has been absolutely fantastic."
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.