Honoré 1875 To Reinvent French Sandwich
Even though the French fast food sector is pretty creative and innovative, rare is the opportunity to stumble upon a new concept that has the ambition to change the way French baguette sandwiches are processed and sold.
French sandwiches are still very popular and account for 60% of the total amount of sandwiches sold on the French market (almost every bakery in the street and supermarket are selling them). Unfortunately, they generally suffer badly from the hygiene regulation that makes it mandatory to store them in a 4 degrees celsius environment. In that condition, you cannot treat yourself with a crusty and tasty combination of bread and filling. The only way out is to prepare them on demand in front of the customer, which implies low productivity.
Honoré 1875 (Honoré is named after the patron saint of bakers) has decided to tackle the problem introducing a brand new fast casual concept where sandwich fillings are individually pre-made and stored in a refrigerated cabinet before being assembled and served on a room temperature baguette.
The concept has been designed by refrigerated cabinet manufacturers and mostly funded by an Asian corporation that operates more than 100 French bakeries in Japan. A concept fuelled by food process experts rather than retailers. Insightful.
Let’s dig in the concept:
- Honoré 1875 is ideally located in an high street environment in central Paris. The 20 square-meter store features an elegant wooden façade with ears of wheat that appear on the storefront.
- The interior is both refined and elegant. The refrigerated cabinets, the furniture and the signage system are carefully combined in a very integrated and homogeneous environment. The white ceiling and the soft but efficient lighting system are showing off the wooden floor and walls.
- The menus are displayed on a digital screen alongside with contents about recipes and ingredients.
- In front of the refrigerated cabinets, the wall features some original wine flasks that have been selected to accompany your menu choice.
- The order and preparation are processed by the staff in front of the customer. First you ask for the filling : ham, foie gras, fish… a dozen of recipes is available and will be renewed regularly. The same goes for the deserts that are associated with milk bread.
- Then you can choose the type of bread you feel like: multi grain or plain. The bread comes from “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” – one of the most prestigious awards for French craftmen – Frederic Lalos bakeries in Paris.
- Third and last step, assembling the sandwich through a small tray especially designed for the concept.
You won’t be disappointed by the quality of the sandwiches. Some of you may even re-discover how tasty these sandwiches can be.
The price range varies from €5,90 to €8,20 for savoury sandwiches while desserts are priced €4,80. The menus start at €13,90 and can reach €16,20, the high range for fast casual food in Paris.
As a conclusion, I would make a few remarks:
The concept has opened in a beta form but is undoubtedly inspiring and promising thanks to the quality of the food.
- However, I think that the concept may be a little disturbing and uneasy to figure out for new customers. I would have expected some more information on the storefront to make it easier for everyone to understand how it works.
- Inside, impulse buying is affected by the fact that there is, of course, no ready-to-eat sandwiches displayed on shelves. Only a positive word-of-mouth (as it should) is likely to generate trafic and foster loyalty in the long run.
- Moreover, the luxury decor may be an obstacle in order to attract flows of customers even though the prices are roughly in the top-tier range of fast casual restaurants in the neighbourhood. I suggest that the menu prices be showcased with even more impact in the store.
- Honoré 1875 first store is so tiny that there is no space to eat on-site. Quite disappointing not to be able to take advantage of such a nice decor.
Honoré 1875 has planned to open several units in Paris. And as the brand is able to make the most of very tiny spaces without an extraction system for cooking fumes, the brand has a critical advantage over competitors in the fierce fight between retailers for prime locations. We can also easily imagine kiosks for high traffic locations such as train stations, airports or high-end shopping centres.
If this first iteration of the concept proves successful, Honoré 1875 is likely to expand fast in major cities. To be continued.