DAYTON, Ohio -- Supermarket consultant Howard Solganik has opened Wrapsody, a quick-service restaurant that will serve as a test lab for a wrap sandwich concept Solganik hopes to take into supermarkets.
So far, business has been brisk, according to its creators. The number of transactions is averaging 200 a day and that is generating three quarters of the volume needed to break even, said Solganik who is president of consulting firm Solganik & Associates here.
He and his sister, Carin Solganik, vice president of the firm, opened the doors of Wrapsody quietly to the public on June 24. The venture is backed by a small group of private investors.
The Solganiks were surprised at the daily volume of business so far, because they purposefully had held back on advertising or formally announcing the opening. Howard Solganik said they chose a "soft" opening to give themselves time to tweak systems and procedures if they needed to.
"We didn't even put a sign in the window. We wanted to keep the initial traffic fairly slow just to make sure we could handle it," Solganik said. "The last thing we wanted to do was to make people mad because they didn't get their food quickly enough."
Solganik said his biggest worry on opening day was "whether we could keep the food coming out when we wanted it," but the mission was accomplished. "That's because we had put a lot of planning into how the systems would work as well as into menu development."
At present, the wait is no more than a couple of minutes for a made-to-order wrap, he said. Customers' orders are taken at the cash register and then are automatically printed out at the prep station. Then, the customer proceeds to a central pickup station. Keeping employees dedicated to particular tasks has been a major key to the keeping the operation smooth, Solganik said.
"The system is the same that restaurants use, and supermarkets will have to do something similar if they're going to make food-service work for them," Solganik said.
Indeed, Solganik had said in an earlier interview that "What we learn here, we'll share with our supermarket clients." One of the reasons Solganik is investing in trendy wrap sandwiches is that they can serve all day parts and could be viable in supermarkets, most of which already have some type of sandwich program.
At this point, lunch is the busiest part of the day at Wrapsody, with a Thai chicken wrap, at $4.95, the best-seller, Solganik said. The sandwich's ingredients are grilled chicken breast, rice, sweet and sour coleslaw, cucumbers and a custom-made peanut sauce. Runners-up are turkey club and Mexicali chicken. The top-selling smoothie is strawberry-banana, he said.
While chicken and turkey-based wrap sandwiches are heading up the list of best-sellers, everything on the menu is doing well. Carin Solganik commented on the popularity of the entire menu, which includes 12 varieties of wraps, three children's wraps, six smoothies and five carrot juice blends.
"What's really astonishing is that they're all selling great. There isn't one item that we'd need to think of taking off the menu," she said.
Breakfast wraps hold the biggest potential, Howard Solganik said. "We have a 'Scrambler' which is made of scrambled eggs, bacon, bell pepper, cheddar and tater tots." It is $3.95. There's also a wrap that contains granola and fresh berries.
A key ingredient in Solganik's formula is making the tortillas for the wraps fresh, on-site, he said. "It's easy to get into the wrap business, but we wanted to be 'the wrap specialist.' We wanted to get a special reaction and a special price. It [making tortillas from scratch] requires a major investment but it distinguishes us from other places serving wraps," he said.
The size of the wraps, too, at 14 to 16 ounces, distinguishes Wrapsody as well, he said.
The location -- in Centerville, just a couple of miles from Solganik & Associates' corporate offices -- is good for pulling in customer traffic. It's just across the street from an athletic field -- where regional school teams compete -- and there's a church down the street. "Early indications are that we've done it well. Of course, the story can be told better in six months," he said.