Epic Sammich, the innovative and oversized sandwich shop on Highland Avenue, will close Saturday, according to co-owner Dustin Staggers. The restaurant will end a nine-month run that began last May, following the closure of another concept he co-founded, Rumplings Slurp Shop.
Staggers said Epic Sammich has battled several problems that hurt sales, including a low-visibility location just a block east of Baxter, and some cannibalization by one of his other restaurants, America. The Diner.
“Sometimes the space you get is prohibitive,” Staggers said. “I think if you throw Epic 200 feet west (where it would face Baxter), it’s way different. Look at Bunz. It does well, it’s a similar concept, good food, small space, but it’s got the frontage.”
Staggers said some “menu redundancies” with America. The Diner. led diners there for late-night eats, rather than to Epic. The sandwich shop originally stayed open late to catch hungry bar patrons, but when they didn’t come, Staggers cut operating hours. Now it essentially runs as a lunch stop.
“It’s doing well at lunch, but it’s not making the money we want from it,” said Staggers, who promised popular sandwiches from Epic’s menu will migrate to The Diner’s menu. “That business is going to The Diner, which is doing fine. … When the weather has been nice lately, it’s been getting slammed from 2:30 to 5 (a.m.).”
Staggers and Eric Morris, his former partner in Epic, also opened a second location in Richmond, Ky., in September. The venture fell short of expectations, though, Staggers said, and it closed three months later. (Morris just opened Gospel Bird in New Albany this week.) Asked whether this upcoming closure of Epic in Louisville marks the end of the concept altogether, Staggers said he’s not sure.
“To be frank, I don’t really know,” he said, adding that the loss of the Richmond operation tapped deeply enough into his capital reserves that it imperiled the Louisville Epic Sammich going forward. “The goal is to make money. And if it’s not making money, at some point you have to cut the cord.”
Staggers said his first restaurant, Roux, is doing well, and he’s considering building a basement bar.
“We think that if we can build this bar downstairs — and we’d have to take the front window off to do it — it would increase the experience for customers,” he said. “We think we’re held back a little bit by the bar being upstairs.”