Small Business Startup: The Sandwich Bar

Friends and entrepreneurs Jamie Hubbard, left, and Jessica Williams opened The Sandwich Bar in Sackets Harbor together. The shop is located on West Main Street in the village. Sydney Schaefer/NNY Business

  For friends Jessica Williams and Jamie Hubbard it was easy to join forces and open their first small business together in Sackets Harbor. 

     Both women, coming from culinary backgrounds, knew they had something special to share with Sackets Harbor and quickly got their idea off the ground. Jessica was in the process of retiring from the military and Jamie was at a point where she was searching for something new.  

     “We both lived in the village. And Jess was on maternity leave, and we would spend time walking our dogs,” said Jamie, “we would talk about food and recipes. One day we were walking and were hungry for a sandwich two years ago in the summer and said ‘We should open a sandwich shop’.” 

   At that exact moment, the two recalled, they walked past the building that now houses their restaurant, The Sandwich Bar, and saw that the space was for rent.  

    “It was just divine intervention that we just walked past and there it was,” said Jessica.  

     The space was secured and the two were ready to develop their name and menu. Luckily, Jamie had experience owning and operating her own business, as well as having worked at a sandwich shop for seven years on the North Shore of Chicago. And for Jessica, she comes from a “family of foodies,” where her uncle and aunt had attended the Culinary Institute of America in California. Inspiration and business management were on their side. 

     Working around the location of Sackets Harbor, the name The Sandwich Bar came from the term sandbar, which is from Lake Ontario. The name stuck and they began to pull inspiration for the menu from their past experiences. 

     “You think back like, ‘you know a year ago I had this sandwich and that was really good! What was in that?’ And then you try and look up different recipes from other people,” said Jessica. “We asked ourselves if they tasted good and we would put it on the menu. We went from 13 signature sandwiches to 25. We might dial back in the summer on some that are harder to make.” 

    Some of the signature sandwiches featured include the Brie L.T., a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich with cranberry chutney and warmed Brie and The Sand Bar, which consists of turkey, basil pesto aioli mayo, roasted red pepper, lettuce, tomato and Muenster cheese. The menu has something for every flavor palet and then some.  

     “March 31 (2019) was our opening preview day,” said Jamie, “and our official day was April 1. We wanted to get a jump in the season get a jump on the schedule.” 

     Since opening, The Sandwich Bar has been busy and well received by the community. But in Sackets Harbor, a village that slows down in the winter and endured high waters this summer resulting in less boat traffic, they say contractors and construction workers are happy they are open. 

     “We had the whole Coast Guard, they came all summer,” said Jamie. “They were here checking the water continually, we had guys from environmental groups that came in, not that that completely filled the void with the boaters lacking, but it was fantastic.” 

    Now, as the establishment has been open almost a year, the pair are focusing on some new elements to their business, including catering and special holiday events.  

     “We are pushing our catering right now and becoming more known for that,” said Jessica. “I do as much as I can for Fort Drum; there’s a lot of parties and a lot of promotions. And local businesses are starting to find out about us. We do the Old McDonald’s Farm once a month now, and we’ve got another catering job because we leave our menu everywhere. We’re going to also start incorporating different things like brunch on Sundays.” 

     When asked if there is any advice that they would offer to other people interested in starting their own business, Jessica says, “It’s a lot harder than it seems on paper. You can get your business plan out, you can forecast all your numbers, but there’s always something that you run into that you don’t foresee.” 

    But luckily Jamie says that the two haven’t had any major hiccups yet and they couldn’t be happier with the business they are building together for their community.  

~Holly Boname