What started decades ago as a childhood friendship between Clayton Frost and Chris Jameson has blossomed into a successful business partnership, which aims to satisfy hungry bellies in Cobble Hill. The Little Corner Sandwich Shop opened in November 2019, and word is quickly spreading about the best home-spun comfort food in town.
In this Q + A session, owners Clay Frost and Chris Jameson tell the story behind the business, as well as what customers can expect when they discover the unique dishes served by friendly staff on the corner of Cobble Hill Road and Fisher Road.
Q - How would you describe the food served at The Little Corner Sandwich Shop?
A - We serve affordable home-spun comfort food.
(The TLCSS crew)
Q - What is the culinary background of the chefs at TLCSS?
A - Our head Chef Adin Teufel earned his chef papers at the age of 24 before cooking in various fine-dining establishments across the world. Adin is a visual artist with an unmatched passion for food. Chef Kyle trained under Edgar Rahal and spent a year cutting his teeth at a French cooking institute before operating his own catering business. He specializes in local native ingredients, which he combines in our unique daily soups.
Q - The food trailer and seating deck can be found at the corner of Fisher Road and Cobble Hill Road. Why was this location chosen?
We both grew up in Cobble Hill. We love the area and people and felt like the location we chose was the perfect place. The corner is a busy spot with a diverse crowd of people. We wanted them to experience a variety of flavours and ingredients in a convenient location. This is also the second busiest road in the Cowichan Valley.
(Construction of TLCSS)
Q – How long did it take you to build TLCSS trailer and deck? Had either of you ever taken on this type of project before?
A – Neither of us had built anything like this before, so we weren’t sure what to expect. We decided to go with brand new trailer parts; the entire construction process took about three months. It was challenging, because as we were physically building the business, we were also working to build the brand and awareness.
Q - When did the business open, and how long did it take to gain traction with customers?
A - We opened for business on Nov. 12, 2019. Our first week was a big hit! We are both well known in the area and immediately received a ton of support from the community. Our active strategy on social media has also helped to rapidly build an engaged following. We’re fortunate to have a solid foundation of regular customers.
Q – How did you two go from childhood friends to business partners?
A - We’ve been good friends ever since we met back in 1990. Back then, we spent most of our time riding dirt bikes down the trails behind our parents’ properties. Throughout middle school and high school, we shared an interest in entrepreneurship and business. Clay’s 25 years in the food and beverage industry, matched with Chris’s vision for a simple soup and sandwich restaurant, led to TLCSS.
(Owners Clayton and Chris)
Q - What are your business hours? Do they change based on the season?
A - We're open with Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6p.m., but there has been such a demand that we're looking at expanding our hours into the weekends and evenings.
Q - Are your products sourced locally?
Yes. We are ecstatic to be able to offer our customers fresh local ingredients from establishments like True Grain Bakery in Cowichan Bay, Portofino bakery in Victoria, Red Barn, The Old Farm Market and Lockwood farms. We are fortunate to have such a variety of amazing ingredients available to us on this beautiful island.
(The loaded clubhouse)
Q - TLCSS features specials on weekdays, with a “Chef’s Choice” on Fridays. What have been a few of the chef’s creations?
A – Recently, we did a hickory smoke stack sandwich on focaccia. Smoked ham, smoked Brie, smoked bacon, smoked paprika aioli and smoked tomatoes. We literally smoke the whole sandwich in its container with our handheld smoker.
(Hickory smoke stack sandwich)
Q- There are two featured homemade soup options every day. What are a few examples of soups that have been featured in the past?
A - We've done some killer soups like our wild and creamy mushroom soup with gold and white chanterelles, hedgehog inoki portobellini and crimini mushrooms. All of our chefs are super creative, so you can expect something different and delicious every Friday. We normally choose soups that we would love to eat ourselves such as shredded chicken breast tortilla soup with lime avocado tortilla crisps, cilantro and creme fraiche. One of our most popular soups is the hoisin BBQ duck ramen with black sesame and pickled ginger.
(Wild and creamy mushroom soup)
(Duck Ramen soup)
Q - What has been the most popular menu item so far?
A - By far the most popular item on our menu is our bacon cheeseburger, which features our coveted Little Corner patty. We set our burger apart with its Red Barn triple-smoked bacon, Portofino deluxe brioche loaded with fresh produce and in-house burger sauce.
(Bacon cheese burger)
Q - What beverage options are available for your patrons?
A - We serve basic pop as well as fine Italian soda. We have an Arabian blend coffee and a limited assortment of tea. During the summer we will have daily homemade iced beverages such as a virgin shaft and margaritas.
Q - It’s difficult to find any products more expensive than $12 on your menu. Why is affordability a priority for TLCSS?
A - We wanted to offer the best value possible for our customers. That's one of the reasons we built a trailer and extend the savings through our lean business model. Our goal was to produce the best food possible in the smallest footprint.
Q- In three short months, positive reviews for TLCSS have flooded Facebook and Google. What does it mean to you to have positive feedback early on?
A - We feel extremely fortunate that the community has embraced our vision and is showing us support. Our customers’ feedback is always a priority to us; receiving such positive reviews has given us a real boost.
(A recent review of TLCSS)
Q - What has been your favourite in-person comment or reaction from a customer so far?
A - There was a gentleman who came in for a bowl of soup. After tasting the soup he said, "That was the best damn bowl of soup I've ever had, and I’m 70 years old.” It's pretty amazing when you hear comments like that.
Q - Your business was also nominated for the Young Entrepreneur 2020 Award at the Black Tie Awards hosted by the Duncan Chamber of Commerce. What did it mean to you, as business owners, to receive that nomination?
A - We were humbled and honoured to receive the nomination. Even though we haven't won yet, we're already celebrating the fact that one of our customers feels we deserve such a prestigious recognition.
Q - Will The Little Corner Sandwich Shop always remain a food truck, or are there thoughts of expansion down the road?
A - We have big plans for the future.
(Sun setting behind TLCSS)
Q - Are there any vegetarian/gluten-free options?
Yes! We recently added a vegetarian burger and we offer daily vegetarian, gluten-free soup. We also offer gluten-free bread options for all of our sandwiches.
Q - Does The Little Corner Sandwich Shop have gift cards available for purchase?
A - Yes we do.
Q – Where can people track down TLCSS on social media?
A – Facebook and Instagram. Make sure to tag us if you visit!