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Freshly Focused Sandwich Shop Board & Brew Expands to New Locations in San Diego

Written By: Kyle Anderson

Photographed By: Valerie Kon

The Experts: Craig Applegate & Clayton Wheeler

Credentials: Franchise Owners of Board & Brew

Favorite Items on the Menu: Craig: The Turkado, Clayton: The Baja Chicken

The first franchise of the beloved Board & Brew, which originated in Del Mar, is well underway, and owners Craig Applegate and Clayton Wheeler are brimming with excitement, not only because of their success with their first location that opened in Carlsbad Village 2 years ago, but also because they have signed on with the company to open four more locations in 5 years. Not getting up to North County much, I have never had the pleasure of trying one of their delicious sandwiches, so I was thrilled to head to their newest location in Scripps Ranch. The store has a completely chill vibe with indie music playing, and skate decks placed on the tops of the booths. One wall is decorated with their friend’s surf photography while the wall behind the bar has recycled skate deck tile from Art of Board.

They have a staple secret sauce that I knew I had to try, so I ordered the Turkey Deluxe wrap complete with sunflower seeds that thoroughly excited me. The wrap was bursting at the seams, and the sauce was amazing! Only using the freshest meats, cheeses and veggies, they slice their meats and cheeses every day and even hand-trim, season and cook the roast beef in-house. The best part was when they told me they are opening a location in my town, Pacific Beach, in the next month or two … meaning I can frequent and indulge in this healthy, affordable and chill place of business.

Q: What was the inspiration for deciding to buy the franchise?

Craig Applegate: We had both been working in the restaurant industry for 30 years combined. We both helped open and worked at a restaurant in Del Mar, so we were on the same page with aspirations to do our own thing, and caught wind that they were expanding, so we went down there and approached Tom—the guy who started it in Del Mar—and it worked out.
Clayton Wheeler: We started with a one store deal, which is the one in Carlsbad, and once they saw the success and the effort we were putting into that store, we were able to secure a territory agreement with them. Now we have a deal with four stores in 5 years, and this is our first one with that deal.

Q: Do you get any freedom with your locations as far as the menu?

CW: We have free reign to pick the beer we want, but the menu is pretty locked in. However, we work really close with Tom, being the first franchisee, and get to help on new menu developments.
CA: We do have to use the colors and theme of the brand, but we get a lot of freedom with designing stores the way we want. This store came out pretty ideal for what we want going forward.

Q: You guys boast about the fresh ingredients. Is the bread made fresh as well?

CW: We get our bread from O’Brien’s, which was originally out of Del Mar, so close to the first Board and Brew location. They were able to do four Board and Brews, and a couple of their recipes are proprietary to us. They just moved to Escondido to support their growth and our growth. We get our bread delivered every day.

Q: What sets you apart from other California sandwich shops that use fresh ingredients as well?

CA: We don’t have any freezers or microwaves. It’s all fresh. We cut everything … turkey every day, veggies every day and cheese every day. We cook our roast beef in-house, season it and slice it, every day. We have the highest quality of everything, like our flat meat for the Baja Beef Sandwich, which is an Australian grass-fed beef; the roast beef is Certified Angus Beef which is the top 10 percent of all cattle.

SD Jun. Board and Brew. Valerie Kon ph 6

Q: What is your favorite thing on the menu?

CA: The Turkado is definitely a staple you can’t go wrong with and is hands down the best selling sandwich that we have.
CW: My favorite is the Baja Chicken … chicken, jalapeños and grilled onions.

Q: How do you go about selecting the craft beer?

CA: We’re on a full rotation system in our Carlsbad location. I think we had over 200 different beers our first year with eight taps.
CW: We have a “suggest a beer” board for customers, so you can write something up there, and we’ll do our best to get it.
CA: Our philosophy is to keep it as local to San Diego as possible, from sponsoring local athletes, to getting our bread locally, to providing local beers, which if you look at our taps, most are from San Diego. We want to have beers that we like and beers that our community likes. The suggestion board helps a ton because you’re getting instant feedback on what people want to enjoy with their sandwiches.

Q: Do you plan to open more stores?

CW: The Pacific Beach store is due to open in the next month or so, but we will probably slow down after that because two locations in 6 months are kind of a lot … but we have two more to open in our agreement after that.

Q: If you could go back and do it again, is there anything you would do differently?

CW: Honestly, not a thing in my opinion. You know, we’ve made our mistakes, and we’ve learned from them and grown from them, which has kind of put us in the position that we’re at.
CA: I think our approach from day one was pretty good. Carlsbad is a lot smaller than this, so operationally, it was easier for us to get a full grasp on every side of the business, and taking all that and bringing it to this location which is three times bigger, it’s been a great process. I don’t think I’d change anything at all.

SD Jun. Board and Brew. Valerie Kon ph 5

Q: Are you involved in social media?

CA: We just hired a company called Main Street Hub, and they take care of our Facebook and Twitter. It’s been good because having pretty much a two-man team, it’s hard to cover that aspect on top of the operations side. This place is getting overwhelmed with a lot of fundraising, which we love.

Q: Are you involved in any events or charities?

CW: We’re trying to build a little action sports team. We sponsor Taylor Knox and have a pretty close relationship with him. We also sponsor Ricky Whitlock out of Carlsbad as well as Nate Vernia.

Q: Is the secret sauce truly a secret?

CW: Yeah, it is. But you know, we don’t charge for it. Our whole thing is value. We don’t want to nickel and dime customers.

Q: Is there a story behind the name Board & Brew? Is it primarily skating?

CA: It’s about the Southern California lifestyle. For the design aspect, we’ve incorporated more surfing and skating. We could probably do some snowboarding stuff … we just haven’t.

SD Jun. Board and Brew. Valerie Kon ph 9

Q: What are your roles within the company?

CA: As we’re growing, it’s kind of evolving more. At Carlsbad, we were both there every day—doing everything. Now, we’re getting spread a little bit thinner, but Clayton does a lot of the employee relations and HR, as well as the beer order stuff. He’s at this spot more. I’m at Carlsbad a little more doing the finance side of things, but we work together on everything to make sure we’re on the same page and have the same end result.

Q: If you were trapped on a desert island with one sandwich and one beer, what would it be?

CA: I would get the Turkado with unlimited sweet and sour sauce. We just partnered up with Artifex who came out with a Board & Brew Honey Blonde, so I’d probably have to have that one.
CW: I think the only thing I would change from that is to add bacon to the Turkado!

Board and Brew
9880 Hibert St
San Diego, CA 92131
858.689.2739 | www.boardandbrew.com