A Kiwi man who started his own sandwich shop in Paris after having all his possessions stolen has celebrated 30 years of business in the French capital.

In 1975 Drew Harré was swimming in the sea on his OE in Naples when a thief took his belongings from the beach. After hitchhiking his way to the New Zealand embassy in Rome, Harré was inspired to take up violin making after meeting a luthier at a train station. However, some time later he stopped in Paris on the way to Amsterdam and sat down next to a girl named Chantal, now his wife.

After they were married, the two helped start arguably the world's first online supermarket on France's pre-Internet Minitel. "That left me with some money to invest," says Harré, "and I decided that I would open a sandwichery – because there weren't any decent sandwiches."

With an emphasis on fresh ingredients from bread to filling, Harré's business Cosi has now been serving Parisians sandwiches for 30 years. The business's recent birthday celebrations were attended by around 40 of the over 200 staff who have worked for Cosi since its opening.