Saturday, June 27, 2009

Which Wich would you prefer? $ubway, thank you.

I’d lived in Austin for over a year before I spent any lunch days in downtown Austin. At long last, I found myself in the downtown office for a week, and I was anxious to explore the best lunch spots with some of my co-workers. The first four days taught me a valuable life lesson: some people call food “good” when it costs too much, doesn’t fill you up, and tastes like crap. I am not one of these people. Finally, on Friday, somebody suggested a place called Which Wich. I had to ask him to repeat it a few times before I realized that we were not dealing in complete words.

Which Wich, as it turns out, is a sandwich shop indigenous to Austin. (For the slow-witted among you, “wich” is short for “sandwich”.) The name is also their gimmick: they have easily the widest variety of sandwiches I’ve ever seen in a sandwich shop, so the most important decision you have to make when you walk in is “Which ‘wich do I want?” They have five sandwich options for each of the 12 principal meats, and that’s before you choose your dressings and vegetables. By my calculations, you can order approximately 1.6 trillion different sandwiches. And all this for $4.50 plus tax.

Since my first visit, I’ve taken most of my out-of-town visitors there (or to Kirby Lane) to introduce them to a tasty and affordable “distinctly Austin” dining experience. Some of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had in my entire life (sorry Mom, and sorry lunch lady Doris) have been at Which Wich.

Imagine my surprise today when my order for a Ham and Bacon on wheat with crispy strings (tiny onion rings that taste like a little bit of deep-fried heaven), lettuce, tomatoes, and cole slaw, and a water cup came to $5.60. I did a double-take. Then I asked how much a sandwich was. $5.10, came the dispassionate reply.

“Wow, that’s even more expensive than Subway now,” I mused, secretly hoping he would give me a discount to keep my business.

“We’re better than Subway, too,” was his insta-reply. I spared him a lecture on how I love Subway more than I value his life. After a moment of contemplation, I also spared his life.

I walked to my seat to wait for them to process my order, and sat there for a while, reading the Wall Street Journal. After a few minutes and nearly three whole sentences, I decided upon my finalized retort: “But at Subway, you get a foot long for $5. Here you get a 6 inch for $5.10. Your sandwiches would have to be twice as good to be worth it, and they’re not. As soon as I finish this tasty little sandwich, you’ve just lost a customer.”

But wait, they almost are twice as good. I mean, come on, crispy strings? Cole slaw? Ham with bacon bits? Toasting in a real toaster oven? Subway has none of these things.

I laud Which Wich’s praise! … as I finish my after-lunch snack of four pieces of Papa John’s pizza. You know, because I was still hungry. You know, because it wasn’t enough. You know, because they’re frickin’ ripping me off.

It’s official. Subway, with your $5 foot long spicy Italian on wheat with pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, banana pepper, sweet onion sauce, and salt and pepper, for here; you have my eternal allegiance.

1 comment:

  1. It's hard to beat Subway for filling simplicity. I'm partial to Quiznos, but they're more expensive. But taste really good. Have you created a spreadsheet yet that weighs the cost of the sandwich to the quantity received to the taste?