Yorktown native Bijal Patel is preparing to help his family expand its footing in the hospitality industry with Which Wich, a sandwich shop expected to open in Settler’s Market on Monday.
Patel’s family has owned and managed hotels for his entire life. After the economy took a turn, the family started looking into some other ventures — specifically in the food industry. Patel said he looked into franchises with Extreme Pizza, Five Guys and Firehouse Subs. It was not until the cooler months of 2012 when Patel tried Which Wich for the first time.
The Italian grinder cinched it: The family would open a Which Wich.
“I was just really impressed. They had an excellent product, the store looked really cool – really modern – and the staff was really great,” Patel said.
Which Wich offers diners the chance to fully customize their meals by writing orders on paper bags. After choosing a bag, diners use a pen or marker to check off which additional toppings they want on the sandwich. The restaurant staff assembles the sandwich and puts it back in the paper bag the customer used to order.
Patel used his education and past experience in hotel management to help broaden the family’s portfolio by adding a Which Wich franchise. Patel earned bachelor’s degrees in finance and computer information systems from James Madison University in 2002, and a master’s in business administration from Old Dominion University in 2005.
When looking for a place to open the new sandwich shop, Patel picked Williamsburg. He is also exploring options in Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. Patel is planning to open a second location — as part of his franchise agreement — in the spring, and hopes to expand to five to seven stores across the Hampton Roads area within the next several years.