- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 3, 2005

A new sandwich shop — with roots to the inventor of the sandwich — plans to open in the Washington area.

Earl of Sandwich, which has just one location in Orlando, Fla., is targeting Washington, as well as other markets on the East Coast, with an aggressive expansion plan. The company plans to have 300 franchises nationwide by 2008.

“Earl of Sandwich has all the makings to be the next franchise brand empire,” said Lynette McKee, vice president of franchising.

The 1-year-old, quick-service restaurant traces its roots more than 240 years.

John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich and a British politician, is credited with inventing the sandwich in 1762. During a card game, he asked to have slices of meat put in between two pieces of bread so he could continue eating without interrupting his gambling. Thus, the sandwich was born.

In modern times, John Montagu, the 11th Earl of Sandwich, contacted Robert Earl, founder of Planet Hollywood and one of the founders of Hard Rock Cafe, several years ago about starting a company using the “Earl of Sandwich” name. With the help of Chief Executive Officer Gary Davis, the sandwich shop was born.

Earl of Sandwich opened in Orlando in March 2004 and had $5.3 million in sales its first year.

The restaurant sells 13 hot sandwiches such as “The Original” with roast beef, cheddar cheese and a creamy horseradish sauce; “The Earl’s Club” with turkey, apple-smoked bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato; and the “The Full Montagu,” which is a combination of roast beef and turkey with cheddar and Swiss cheeses, lettuce, tomato, and an English mustard sauce. All sandwiches are $4.95.

The company is optimistic that its concept can grow throughout the country. The Orlando location has given it much-needed exposure to customers and potential franchisees from around the world.

The company expects to open 20 locations in the Washington area — both in the District and in the suburbs — over the next three years. The first location here could open as early as the end of this year or the beginning of 2006, Mrs. McKee said.

A restaurant in New York City is expected to open in the next few months. Other initial expansion markets include Boston, Philadelphia, Charlotte, N.C., Atlanta and Tampa, Fla.

The locations can range from 900-square-foot kiosks that would fit in airports or on college campuses to 1,800-square-foot restaurants in strip centers and 3,000-square-foot free-standing locations.

The franchisee fee is $25,000 per location. It will cost between $170,000 and $380,000 to build the locations, depending on the size.

Retail rummage

• Filene’s Basement is opening its fourth store in the Washington area Thursday. The 39,000-square-foot store, with 120 employees, will open in Rockville on Rockville Pike, taking the place of Kitchens Etc.

• A new high-end retail complex is opening in Chevy Chase in October. The Collection at Chevy Chase, 112,000 square feet of two-story boutiques on Wisconsin Avenue, will include Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Cartier and Ralph Lauren.

Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884. Retail & Hospitality runs every other Monday.

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