WHEN you're one sandwich bar surrounded by a million-and-one competitors, you have to make your product stand out. Matthew Arden and Bruce Isaacs chose to cover theirs with graffiti.
With a prime spot on the corner of London's Leicester Square, a management contract from the leasing company, and a minimal amount of capital, Mr Arden, Mr Isaacs and manager Johnnie White came up with the notion for Graffiti Café "during a 20 minute conversation on what Leicester Square needed", said Mr Arden.
They appointed local graffiti and mural artist "Charlie" to decorate the external walls in multi-coloured symbols, which are repeated in the bar area. A gourmet sandwich menu, featuring unusual breads and fillings, was devised so that it would appeal to the local office workers and early morning night-clubbers spilling out of the three venues nearby. Graffiti Café is open from 9am until 5am. To capitalise on the city's growing night-clubbing population, the bar is planning to position a DJ at one window through the night to create an extra buzz; joint promotions with local clubs are also on the cards.
Little was altered of the original shell of the Glitter Bar (full of ageing rocker Gary Glitter's memorabilia), except to paint over the walls and install some refrigeration and storage equipment, stainless steel chairs and tables and a good sound system. Total budget came to less than £8,000, with a little help from Lavazza and Gaggia, which supplied promotional material and cups as well as coffee and equipment.
Mr Arden and Mr White, who have stakes in Sol e Luna, a wood-fired pizza restaurant, and bar Le Mistral, both in Covent Garden, are pleased with the response to their first street-wise sandwich outlet and are planning more.