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Byline: GARY M. STERN
New York City is the ultimate challenge, the Grand Prix for sandwich makers.
The legendary deli sandwich was born in the Big Apple. New Yorkers are pretty finicky about what they put between two slabs of bread.
So if a gutsy restaurateur-turned-sandwich maker makes it in New York, the force must definitely be with him. That's what Spiro Baltas, the CEO of Starwich, a gourmet sandwich shop with five outlets in Manhattan, did.
The small business, which launched in June 2004, is a study in how to succeed in an especially tough market by catering to upscale appetites. Baltas' food is top quality, and he won over more customers by letting them customize sandwiches and offering fast service and ambience at his stores.
Baltas made his name in fine dining as a food and beverage director at New York's Tavern on the Green and Four Seasons restaurants.
In starting Starwich, he's gone decidedly downscale but said, "I saw a need for a niche that combined quality food in restaurants with an upscale atmosphere. But the key is our …