Which Wich: Downtown Dallas, December 2003
Burguesa Burger: Inwood and Harry Hines, May 2009 (closed)
Total stores: WW: 115; BB: three
In/Closest to our neighborhood: Downtown Dallas, Main and Akard
Company philosophy: Dallas’ Jeff Sinelli founded Genghis Grill before selling the company in 2003, then launched Which Wich — more than 50 varieties of sandwiches with a unique ordering system (grab a paper bag; mark meat, topping and condiment selections; wait for sandwich to be made and delivered in same paper bag). The concept quickly spread across Dallas-Fort Worth, then Texas, and then the country. He still owns the original location; the rest are franchised. Whereas Which Wich is a “new, current, hip, young sandwich brand,” Sinelli says, his latest concept, Burguesa Burger, was developed with longtime Hispanic employee Pablo Gallegos and is a burger joint with both Mexican and American influences. The restaurant’s menu is in both English and Spanish, and restaurants accept both dollars and pesos.
Expansion plans: A dense population of lunchtime eaters drove Sinelli’s decision to open the original Which Wich Downtown. “That’s where you start — you want to make sure you have a core of customers,” he says. “But as the brand developed, we found that we had customers in the suburbs — the schools, the families, the soccer moms” who patronize the restaurant at dinner or after practice. More than 115 restaurants later, Sinelli says Which Wich is looking to fill in areas where the restaurant already exists and is fielding calls from throughout the country, plus Canada, Mexico and even Europe. Does that mean more Dallas locations? “Absolutely,” Sinelli says. “We would love to have more 214 [area code] locations, pretty much inside the 635 loop. We’re actually concentrating in the next couple of years to fill in those areas.” After the recession, he says, “new construction kind-of died, so some new projects are started to get ignited again, and we want to be on the front end of them. We’ve found the model to do quite well in lifestyle centers, a combination of residential and restaurants.” Burguesa Burger, however, is Which Wich’s “polar opposite,” Sinelli says. “We’re still exploring with the model, and as we know more, it really belongs to the Hispanic community. You won’t see a Burguesa in Highland Park Village. It’s not that they don’t enjoy it, but there are just threads within the concept that belong in other areas.” He’s looking next toward San Antonio, El Paso and Brownsville, and unlike Which Wich, a restaurant that “needs to be in a place that’s brand new because we expect Which Wich to be there 20 years-plus,” Burguesa fits best in second-generation restaurant space. “There are more restaurants than needed right now, so why not recycle old ones instead of building new ones?” Sinelli asks. “And if you do it right, you can literally save hundreds of thousands of dollars — or pesos, as we say in Burguesa.”