The best selling sandwich at Togo’s is the quarter-pound pastrami, “but at certain of our locations, there’s a strong demand for veggie options,” says Renae Scott, VP of branding and marketing. That was the thinking behind the launch of Viva Veggie, a toasted wrap that debuted this fall in all 242 locations of the San Jose, California-based chain.
Three building blocks
“We looked at three elements: the carrier, the protein and the flavor enhancers,” Scott explains. Togo’s had recently introduced hummus into its system, so that became the basis for the veggie sandwich; roasted red peppers—a new product—became the flavor enhancer. Wraps were a natural for the carrier—several varieties were already in inventory. To freshen the menu without negatively impacting franchisees’ food costs, Togo’s Innovation Team finds new ways to combine existing SKUs while introducing one or two new ingredients.
Playing with the toaster
Togo’s introduced toasters a year ago to keep up with the panini trend. Now toasted sandwiches comprise 10 percent of the menu. “Once the toasters were in, the crew started playing around,” says Scott. Quesadillas were a staff favorite but didn’t really fit Togo’s image. Nevertheless, they inspired the Innovation Team to look at other toasted wraps. They tried an idea along the lines of a Vietnamese banh mi; it didn’t work with the current menu mix but remains in the recipe files. Heavier meats like pastrami and roast beef also fell flat.
What made it onto the menu
Two new items were launched: the Viva Veggie, a combo of hummus, roasted red peppers, feta cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion and balsamic vinaigrette on a spinach wrap; and Cha Cha Chicken, a tomato wrap enclosing chicken, black bean and corn salsa, cheddar, lettuce, tomato and spicy pepitas dressing. “We place the wraps in toasting paper so they turn out more like paninis, then put them through the toasters four at a time,” Scott explains.
Feedback and the future
So far, the toasted wraps are very popular. “The appeal of portability, price point and flavor is winning over guests,” says Scott. “Looking into the future, we’ll concentrate more on our signature products.” Bread remains very important to Togo’s; they partner with a bakery supplier to deliver it fresh daily. Sourdough was introduced last year, and the team is looking at traditional rye and multi-grain to offer more choice.