‘We’re basically a team of endurance athletes’: What it’s like working at Eat4Less

They serve over 30,000 people a week

It’s possibly the most stressful sandwich you will ever encounter.

You’re getting closer to the counter. Just two minutes ago you were on Northumberland St, “I have plenty of time to think about what I want, so I’ll just reply to some Whatsapp messages” you naively thought to yourself. But now you’re edging ever closer to the petrifying and formidable wall which makes up the Eat4Less customer service team – and you still haven’t decided between Texas BBQ chicken and Piri Piri.

You stand, petrified. Your mind draws blank on Texas BBQ vs Piri Piri, and you stupidly stutter “cheese and ham” instead, remembering much happier times of five minutes ago.

We decided to sit down with an Eat4Less employee Raj Dillon to gain a rare insight into the manic Eat4Less world.

It’s okay, you have plenty of time to decide…

How is everything so cheap?

We just constantly and tirelessly work to deliver value to our customers. It’s extremely challenging for the managers to deal with a large supplier base but we love it and it excites us to see the daily looks of amazement and delight in our customer’s eyes.

Many people are put off by the price and are convinced there must be something wrong with the food. But if those people to come and stand outside our store at 6am  they’d see we get deliveries from food companies which also deliver to some of Newcastle’s top restaurants and hotels including Brakes, 3663 and Tyneside Foods.

Our founder is a shy and retiring individual, but his ethos is simple: to deliver the best quality at the most affordable cost.

A lot of people say ordering food at Eat4Less is a stressful experience. What would you say to that?

We serve 30,000 people per week so we cannot afford to allow slow service. They instill a need for speed into us – we’re basically a team of endurance athletes, but it means the customers know they can be the 200th person in the queue but they’ll be served and out within 10 minutes – that’s what you call service.

A jungle of indecision

Do you have any regulars?

About 50 per cent of our customers are regulars but intriguingly they visit not just daily but two or three times per day.

Will you be opening any other stores?

We’re a victim of our own success in Newcastle, and to this end we are currently looking to open several other outlets in the city to alleviate pressure on our current store.

What’s the funniest thing a customer has done?

There’s never really enough time for funny stuff to happen, but people often compliment Eat4Less while paying. I’ve had someone say “Eat4Less is life”, whilst in September I had many people come to the counter and tell me how much they’d missed it over the summer. One guy said our queue reminded him of the second coming of Jesus.

What’s the most popular item you sell?

Our best selling baguette is the Spicy American Chicken panini, which is our own secret recipe and actually won the title of world’s best sandwich in 2006. Our chef, Edward Antonini, won the title of world’s best sandwich chef in 2006 at the Sammy awards in Lyon.

What’s your favourite?

Personally, my favourite baguette is French Brie with a little mayo, cranberries and lettuce. Simply irresistible.”

The dream team

What’s it like during summer when the students have all gone home?

Believe it or not it’s still quite busy. Many locals take the opportunity of the short queues to see what all the buzz is about – they don’t usually get a look in when all the students are around.

What do you do when you’re not working?

We’re just like everyone else in Newcastle – we love going out on the Toon.