Like many small business owners, Lauren Beyer was worried about losing customers when she decided to close her business for a major remodel. It turns out her regular customers weren’t planning to let her down.
Beyer owns The Sandwich Odyssey, which is across the street from Bellingham High School at 2001 Cornwall Ave. Her mother, Mirela Giaconi, opened the sandwich shop in 1994, operating it for 21 years before turning it over to Beyer.
The shop needed a variety of upgrades inside the building, so the decision was made to close the place on March 31. After putting in new concrete floors, equipment and furniture as well as a new coat of paint, Sandwich Odyssey reopened on May 3.
Beyer said the closure was nerve-wracking, and she spent a lot of time replying to phone messages from people wondering if they had closed for good.
When it reopened, lunch hour was busy as people came back, ordering the favorites that they had missed. While it is across the street from the high school, much of her customer base consists of workers and residents in the neighborhood. The shop also has a growing group of college student regulars as Beyer works on improving the shop’s online presence. It has an updated website and Beyer hopes to introduce an online ordering system as well as start a delivery service later this year.
The menu itself hasn’t gone through any major changes, Beyer said. Employees arrive three hours before the 11 a.m. opening to roast the turkey off the bone and slice meats. The shop has a strong following for its sandwich specials, which rotates but includes items like slow roasted barbecue pork or a tri-tip sandwich.
Giaconi, who regularly works at the shop, said tastes have changed since she first opened the business. In 1994 customers just wanted the basics, like ham, turkey or roast beef sandwiches. Nowadays people venture all over the menu, with the Philly Stack and the house roasted turkey sandwiches the most popular.
For Giaconi, it was probably a good thing Bellingham customers wanted just the basics in the early going. On opening day 23 years ago, she had $64 left to buy ingredients, Giaconi said. She slowly rebuilt her funds and was able to offer more as time went on.
“My beginning was hard, but I think it made us better,” Giaconi said, noting she had to pay very close attention to expenses.
With the interior work done, Beyer said next on the list is getting the parking lot repaved and the exterior repainted.
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