Erik’s DeliCafe, the home-grown restaurant chain with more than 30 locations, aims to ramp up growth now that it’s moved over the hill.
The company known for sandwiches, soups and salads recently moved its corporate headquarters to San Jose’s The Alameda after spending decades in Santa Cruz. (Read more about Erik’s in this 2011 Business Journal profile.)
“We needed to be in the middle of the Valley and open an office that’s centrally located and easier to attract potential franchisees,” said Tony Bendana, chief operating officer for Erik’s. “We were tucked into this beautiful corner of the world, but it was a little tough to get people over the hill.”
It’s not the only news out of Erik’s, founded in 1973 in Scotts Valley by Erik Johnson. Erik’s just signed for its first corporate office-campus location — at Irvine Company’s Santa Clara Gateway office project— and for another location at Quito Village in Saratoga. Those are Erik’s 33rd and 34th locations, respectively.
“We’re at the point where we’re building two to three a year, which we think is perfect for the size we are,” Bendana said. “We’re also remodeling a lot of our existing stores in Cupertino, Watsonville and Los Gatos.”
On deck: Fresher, more modern interiors. “We’re just making it more comfortable,” he said. “We have some kitchens that were built a while ago.”
On the food front, Erik’s is bringing in panini sandwiches for the first time in all of its new and remodeled stores. “They’re healthy, fast, more of today’s palate that people are looking for,” he said.
David Taxin, a retail broker with Meacham Oppenheimer CORFAC International, signed Erik’s to Quito Village. He said the brand was offering a lot of the healthy-eating options so popular today before it was the going trend.
“They fill a niche, and if you don’t want to go to a Subway or a Togo’s, for the same price you can have something with a little different twist,” he said.
Erik’s has been a little late with order-ahead technology, which has propelled local competitor Specialty’s to huge growth among office workers. But expect that to change. Bendana said the new Santa Clara store will offer online ordering for the first time, and that could be rolled out to the other Erik’s locations.