(Photo by Brian Baiamonte: Josh Priola)
Company: Street Breads
What they do: Gourmet sandwich shop
Address: 3131 Perkins Road
Revenue: $1.5 million
Next goals: Franchise
In a world where fast casual restaurants are taking consumers and retail space by storm, Josh Priola sees the food industry a little differently. He thinks many eateries take consumers for granted. As the founder and owner of Street Breads, Priola set out about a decade ago to spice things up. “In the sandwich world, it seemed to be so superficial,” Priola says. His goal was to make things more edgy, more thoughtful and more creative—something consumers could not go home and affordably create themselves. To make sandwiches that were out of the ordinary, Priola had to think outside the box. Together with his wife Melissa, the young Lake Charles couple set out for New York to consult chefs at the Culinary Institute of America, enlisting their talent to develop an imaginative menu for their business model.
BUSINESS WITH A SOUL
After five years in business at his Lake Charles location and three years in business in Baton Rouge, what Priola hopes sets Street Breads apart from the competition is its heart. His secret to managing his business is creating a genuine connection with his crew. “You don’t try to preach to them about how making a sandwich is special, and how they are special,” Priola says. “What you want to do is talk to them about how they can get beyond the sandwich line.” Priola pays his employees above minimum wage and also fully discloses all financial and salary information to his team. “People say that is dangerous … but that is being honest,” Priola says. “If we are that transparent, it creates loyalty and concern for the business and allows us to move in ways that other people maybe would not maneuver.”
A GLOBAL PANTRY
Between the buns of a Street Bread sandwich lies an array of tastes intentionally inspired by flavors from all over the world. The sauces, dressings and sandwich toppers are the key to each sandwich creation. “We cover so much ground every day with so much that is healthful, raw and flavorful from a global pantry, and that is really special about what we do,” Priola says. Initially, one of Priola’s biggest challenges was training his employees, who don’t have any culinary experience, and asking them to create gourmet sandwiches from scratch each day. “We are beyond that now,” Priola says. “We’ve made the system easy enough to where anyone can do it in just a day or two, and that is really special about our niche in the market.”
With a plan to grow to six locations in the next 18 months, Priola is well on his way toward achieving his goal of creating a replicable business concept. “I felt like if I created something replicable, then we could change the trends in terms of what is healthful and sustainable,” Priola says. “Subway, Quiznos, Jimmy John’s—these people are kind of left to their own vices. They are left with what is in motion right now. They have to act according to that trend.” So far, the key to growth has been the stability of Priola’s management team. He plans to give his first six shops to his original group of employees, enabling them to become the first franchisees of Street Breads. Through it all, Priola is hoping to change the way people think about growing a business.