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Making sandwiches is the name of the game for the employees of Which Wich Superior Sandwiches in Settler’s Market, but Thursday’s batch had additional meaning.
The Dallas-based chain’s Williamsburg franchise participated in National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, a nationwide effort by the company to make and donate 100,000 of the classic sandwiches to people in need.
Beginning early Thursday morning, Which Wich employees and franchise owner Bijal Patel got to work crafting the sandwiches — peanut butter on one slice of bread, jelly on another, pressed together and sealed in an individual bag emblazoned with a “Project PBJ” sticker.
Patel said the national company asked its franchises to set 100 sandwiches as a goal for the national holiday, but the Williamsburg store wanted to think bigger. Patel and his employees set 575 sandwiches as their goal.
Four local organizations will receive a portion of the sandwiches made during National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day: the Salvation Army, Grove Christian Outreach Center, FISH Food Bank and Avalon: A Center for Women and Children.
Operating in assembly line style, the employees worked together to make the sandwiches — some working with peanut butter, some with jelly — while another employee collected the finished sandwiches and placed them into boxes for transportation.
“This is our way of giving back,” Patel said. “It’s what we feel we have to do — to help someone out.”
Which Wich did not start the National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, but the company has adopted the day as a major charitable event. During a franchisee meeting in Dallas, Patel said Which Wich CEO. Jeff Sinelli challenged the attendees to break the Guinness world record for most peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made at one time.
By the end of the day, they had made 26,710 sandwiches, breaking the previous record by more than 1,000. The sandwiches were then donated to 11 charitable organizations in the Dallas area.
That spirit of giving carried over to the Williamsburg franchise, which opened in Settler’s Market in August 2014. Although National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day happens once a year, Patel said the Williamsburg location has made a regular event out of the “spreading parties.”
The Williamsburg restaurant stocks the sandwiches and sells them for $3 apiece. For every one peanut butter and jelly sandwich sold at the store, Which Wich donates one sandwich to American charities and one to charity globally.
While some of the sandwiches are sold in the Settler’s Market restaurant, Patel said the rest are distributed to the community.
“We’ll give some to local charities, or give them to people we know need them,” he said. “Occasionally we’ll give them to the homeless in the area.”
Patel has a regional agreement with Which Wich, and plans to open an additional nine franchises throughout the Peninsula. Those planned locations will also participate in the peanut butter and jelly sandwich tradition.
“To a lot of people, it’s just a PB&J sandwich,” Patel said. “But it helps a lot of people in a lot of ways.”