Disclaimer: You don't have to read these posts in order, but it will make a little more sense if you start out with "We let sandwich prices get out of control: Part 1." The basic premise is sandwich prices have gotten out of control and our only hope of avoiding the inevitable $20 price tag is for Subway and McDonald's to fight on our behalf to lower prices. It's a unique story where fast food restaurants are serving as the hero, not the villain. And, as you'll see in a few paragraphs, this is definitely a work of fiction. Arguably the very first work of the "sandwich fiction" genre. Alright cool. Let's begin.
The Sandwich Lobby
When it comes to lobbying in Washington D.C., we're all familiar with the heavy hitters. The healthcare lobby. Big pharmaceutical. Oil and gas. But there's one group that flies pretty well under the radar.
This group doesn't hold extravagant meetings. Their members don't wear suits and ties. And they don't even office on the infamous Kay Street. It's just nine guys who meet every other month in the back of a nondescript deli, two miles west of Georgetown.
The newest member of the group is Don Smith. Don owns the local sandwich shop (Donny's) over in Old Town Chicago, just a block away from the McDonald's by Second City. Donny's has only been open for about three months, but it's ascent to the top of the Yelp ratings has been nothing short of remarkable.
"Best Italian Beef in the city. And it's not even close!" raves SandwichGuy43.
"I'm normally not a big BLT guy, but this one is ON POINT! Lovin' that chipotle mayo," writes MJBullsDitka23.
"Those onion rings were off the chain. You gotta get their signature burger, order 'The Don Ron.' Better than Au Cheval. Easily. This burger will make you say, 'Au CheWho?" gushed IStillCallItSearsTower69.
An Uber pulled up in front of (I've been told I can't reveal the name of the Washington D.C. deli). Don hopped out, pulled his suitcase (and neck pillow) out of the trunk. "Thank you," he said to the driver and lifted his suitcase over the curb.
A tall man with a thick Brooklyn accent, a watermelon of a gut, and a mustard stain on his Yankees t-shirt opened the front door of the deli. He greeted Don with a big smile and an aggressive handshake.
"Donny boy! Good to see ya, good to see ya. How was the flight in? First time in D.C.? Here, I'll help you out with the bag. Have a seat. Hungry? You got any room for a Reuben?"
Don sat down across from the sandwich representative from Boston. He looked around the room the way a young actor does at his first trip to the Academy Awards. He was completely starstruck. How am I in the same room with these people! There was Turkey Club Tim from Tuscaloosa. Pastrami Patti from downtown Pittsburgh. Footlong Phil, a true visionary in the art of Philly Cheesesteak.
The man who greeted him at the door, Brooklyn Billy, took his spot at the front of the deli. He was the only one not sitting down. Behind him was a big sheet of butcher paper which they were using for the PowerPoint slides.
"Donny, we'll get that Reuben ready for ya in a second," Brooklyn Billy said. "Everyone, say hi to Donny. Donny, the crew. Crew, Donny. Welcome aboard. Hey Pepper Jack, throw some potato salad on that plate too, will ya? Alright. So where were we?"
"One of my customers showed me this," Footlong Phil said, holding up his phone. "She put a ruler next to this Subway meatball sub, it's hardly even 10 inches!"
"Oh yeah, get that up on Instagram," Brooklyn Billy replied. "Tim, you've got some dirt on McDonald's, yeah?"
"Yep, found this photo of a Big Mac in Wisconsin. Look at it. It's pathetic. It's like someone took a rolling pin to it back in the kitchen. And see that little bite? Allegedly, and this isn't totally confirmed, but my sources say they served it to the customer just like that. Someone in the kitchen already took a bite out of it!"
"Oh, that's perfect. That'll go viral for sure. And is your guy at the Times still running the chicken nuggets story? The one about the chicken actually being toothpaste?"
"Yep. Should be up tomorrow."
The last words Don heard were "meatball sub from Subway." As the group was talking and digging up more dirt, Pepper Jack came by with the Reuben sandwich. "Enjoy," he said as he put the plate down on the table. Don looked down in awe. He stared at the sandwich for a minute before taking his first bite. All of the conversation going on around him became a blur of sounds.
The marble rye was as thick as Texas toast. The swirls of brown and white looked more like the top of a fancy cappuccino or $7 latte than any bread he had ever seen before. The sauce, there's always been a debate in the sandwich community whether a Reuben is best served with Russian dressing or Thousand Island, but this Reuben had a combination of both. Possibly some chipotle mayo. The sauerkraut was this perfect mix of different shapes and sizes. The Swiss cheese melted perfectly over the piles of corned beef.
Don lifted half of the sandwich up, held it up to the light as if he were tasting a fine wine. He took the first bite and immediately closed his eyes.
"You ok there?" the representative from Boston said, patting him on the shoulder.
"What? Yeah. Yeah, sorry. It's just, this is the best Reuben I've ever had. I think this is the best sandwich I've ever had. The corned beef is unbelievable. And that sauce. And that bread. Man, the bread alone. I could eat a whole loaf of this marble rye."
"Thanks. I'll grab one for ya out of my truck."
"Wait. Are you... Bob the Baker? Oh man! I'm so sorry I didn't recognize you!"
"Don't worry about it," Bob the Baker said with a smile and a wave of the hand. "I try to keep a pretty low profile."
"The Summer of Sourdough! Focaccia February. The Winter of Wheat Bread '96. Man! I've been following your career since I was five-years-old. Alright. Sorry. Have to ask, is it true you invented the Italian Herb & Cheese bread at Subway?"
"Shhh. Look, I appreciate the fanfare, but again, I'm a low profile guy."
"Sorry. Sorry. Hey, you mind signing one of the loaves after the meeting? You know what, that's too far. Sorry."
"Donny, you alright back there?" Brooklyn Billy asked from the front of the deli.
"Yep. Just loving this Reuben."
"Hey, good to hear," Brooklyn Billy said. "And it'll look great on your menu next month."
"Say what now?"
"Pepper Jack, want to take it from here?"
Pepper Jack stepped out from behind the deli counter, wiped his hands on his jeans, and stood where Brooklyn Billy was, just to the left of the butcher paper. The next PowerPoint slide was a picture of the now legendary Reuben with the accompanying text:
"Introducing The First $20 Sandwich"
Note: The featured photo in this story is from "Steven W." on Yelp. It's a 2015 photo of "The New Yorker" at the ChiTown Sandwich Club. And it looks phenomenal.
I thought this would be a two-parter, but turns out I'm going to need two more posts to tell this story. Tune in next Monday for Part 3 which will reveal McDonald's and Subway's plan to fight back. Or, if you're not into sandwich fiction, you might just want to come back to the blog in July. You can subscribe to the blog via email by entering yours in the box below. See you next week and hey, maybe get yourself a footlong sub or Big Mac today. It's really for the good of the country.
Filed under: Comedy
Tags: Au Cheval, Best burger in Chicago, Best Reuben in Chicago, Best sandwich in Chicago, best Subway sandwich, Big Mac, Brooklyn Billy, Chicago sandwiches, chips, corned beef, Eat Fresh, Footlong sandwich, fried, fries, Georgetown, Italian Herb and Cheese bread, Kay Street, Lobbying groups, New York Yankees, Old Town Chicago, Pepper Jack cheese, philly cheesesteak, Reuben sandwich, sandwich prices are too high, sauerkraut, Second City, Subway, turkey club, Washington D.C.