From Stories to Sammies

Erbert and Gerbert’s – launched in Eau Claire – celebrates 30 years of success and sandwiches

Lauren Fisher, photos by Andrea Paulseth

A SANDWICH SHOP SAGA. Erbert and Gerbert’s C.E.O. Eric Wolfe stands in front of the Water Street location in Eau Claire that started it all. The company now has more than 100 locations this year, their 30th anniversary.
A SANDWICH SHOP SAGA. Erbert and Gerbert’s C.E.O. Eric Wolfe stands in front of the Water Street location in Eau Claire that started it all. The company now has more than 100 locations this year, their 30th anniversary.

A trip out of town doesn’t mean you can’t eat local! With more than 100 locations in 16 states, Erbert and Gerbert’s is a good bet for a taste of the Valley when you’re far from home. This year, the Eau Claire-based sandwich shop franchise is celebrating 30 years of growth.

“They’re looking for something that is true. And I think that’s kind of who we are.” – Eric Wolfe, C.E.O of Erbert and Gerbert’s

Kevin Schippers opened the original Erbert and Gerbert’s shop on Water St. in 1988. He named the business for characters from stories his father told Schippers and his nine siblings to teach them about history, science, and leading good lives. The day the shop opened, lines formed out the door to try Schippers’ sandwiches, and within the year, he knew the business had franchise potential.  After the successful opening of the second Erbert and Gerbert’s in St. Cloud, Minnesota in 1990, he began working with a consulting firm to develop the concept into a franchise company.

In 2003, Eric Wolfe bought the Erbert and Gerbert’s franchise company, which had 23 locations at the time, with a few other investors. Formerly of St. Cloud, the C.E.O. has an appreciation for the community he finds in smaller cities.

“I think a lot of people don’t understand that we’re based out of Eau Claire,” Wolfe said. The franchise headquarters in in Eau Claire, along with three locations (a total of six in the Valley in Menomonie, Eau Claire, and Lake Hallie). The company employs university students and graduates, including Jeremy Burke, Director of Marketing and Brand Development, who played a part in the growth of the Buffalo Wildwings franchise before returning to work for the store he remembers from his days as a UW-Eau Claire student.

The chain is also involved with local causes, providing food and monetary donations to the YMCA, Valley high schools, and individual health fundraisers. The spirit of community involvement is a facet of the franchise, according to Wolfe. Locations are given the flexibility to give back in ways that work for them.

The flavors found in Erbert and Gerbert’s sandwiches are developed right here in Eau Claire. The company works with UW-Eau Claire students to brainstorm and taste-test new ideas. While traditional ham and turkey or roast beef sammies are available, unique, bold flavor profiles like chicken cranberry wasabi and chicken and chipotle citrus BBQ are the offerings that set Erbert and Gerbert’s apart, according to Wolfe.

In celebration of the company’s 30 year anniversary, Erbert and Gerbert’s is planning some special deals for customers. Keep an eye out for trivia games based on the stories that inspired Schippers and scratch-off coupons that can win you some free food.

In addition to the adventurous ingredient combos at E&Gs, a sense of history, pride in service, and familiarity gives the company an edge among other sandwich chains. “They’re looking for something that is true,” said Wolfe of guests.  “And I think that’s kind of who we are.”

Erbert and Gerbert’s has locations on Water St., East Clairemont, Roosevelt Ave. on the UW-Eau Claire campus, and London Rd. in Eau Claire; Melby St. in Lake Hallie, and Broadway St. in Menomonie. Hours vary by location.  Delivery is available for individual orders and catering. The original Water St. location is still owned by founder Kevin Schippers.

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