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Crowdfunding campaign helps resurrect shuttered indie Vancouver sandwich café

They put out an "S.O.S." for fans to "Save Our Sandwiches" and they're now getting by with a little help from their friends.
A meatball hoagie from Say Hey Cafe when it opened in 2017. File photo Dan Toulgoet

An independent Vancouver sandwich shop that closed its doors in 2020 is more than getting by with a little help from its friends - it's staging a full-on comeback.

Say Hey, a tiny café in Chinatown (you can spot in Netflix's Always Be My Maybe), has surpassed its Kickstarter fundraising goal of $15,000. The campaign was put out as an "S.O.S." as in "Save Our Sandwiches" as owner Zachary Zimmerman and new business partner, Chef Lina Caschetto, gear up to re-open the "sandwich deli" at 156 East Pender.

"As I’m sure you can imagine, as with so many other small businesses, the pandemic has been hard on our little sandwich shop," says Zimmerman on the Kickstarter page. "But our love of and desire to create the tastiest SANDWICHES has overcome so much in order to get us this far. We can’t stop now!"

"It is truly exciting to be joining forces with my good friend [Zimmerman] in order to re-imagine the concept and bring it back to life!" gushed Caschetto in January on social media. "You better bet it’s gonna be fresher, funner and better than ever before!"

Vancouver-born Caschetto has on her resume several years working in Paris restaurants, and recently the chef helped launch the first Canadian Café Kitsuné right here in Gastown.

Say Hey launched in 2017 and became a local darling thanks to its small menu of hoagie-style sandwiches that packed big flavour.

Zimmerman outlines plans for the new iteration of Say Hey, noting the "foundations will remain the same," but they plan to "offer a wider range of items." Customers can choose from a "larger, rotating variety of sandwiches" that will include more veggie options, as well as more of a deli-style setup where Say Hey has on offer seasonal salads and house-made soups, as well as pastry and desserts. And more good news is that Say Hey plans to offer expanded morning hours with a breakfast and coffee menu.

The fundraiser was created by Say Hey in response to delays that pushed the team's costs sky-high. The funds are described as a little boost, with Zimmerman explaining: "Our plan is to raise funds in order to do some general upgrades to our space and finish outfitting our recently refurbished kitchen."

So far, Say Hey has raised over $16,000 of the $15,000 goal. The sandwich shop is eying a spring opening. Follow @sayheycafe for updates.