...and if they're trying to be "Subway! Except, you know...we slice the meat (from ultra-processed loaves) right in front of you! And far fewer vegetables to pile on! And *way* more expensive!", then KA-POW!!!!! They nailed it.
To say that I was more than just a little bit underwhelmed here is putting it mildly. Understand: it's not a high bar I set for such sandwich places, but my goodness, even though I had a $10 JMS gift card to utilize, I still feel kind of ripped off. It's almost ridiculous that this place is a chain, to me. Remember that feeling we all had when Quizno's prices started getting oh-so-stratospheric, and it just wasn't worth what they were charging? You get that feeling *instantly*, here.
Having never been before, I decided that tonight was the night to give it the old college try. Drove up Woodward Ave. to Birmingham's outpost, and thankfully found parking out front. No wait for service, but I did notice that several tables hadn't been properly cleaned. I ended up sitting at a somewhat-dirty table as a result. This didn't help, but it wasn't anything terrible, either.
I ordered a #9 regular, without cheese, Jersey Mike-style. Apparently, Jersey Mike-style is code for "basically everything on there, except pickles". So I had to oddly ask for pickles, and there just isn't much in the way of veggies to add. Say what you will about Subway's far-overprocessed meats: the veggies they offer are quite nice and usually are fresh. Not so, here, in terms of variety. Fresh? Sure.
It should be noted here that the "regular" sub is all of 7.5 inches in size, and it tips the scales at a whopping $7.75 plus tax, with nothing else. The #9 is a Supreme Club with turkey, roast beef, and bacon, with veggies. At least, that's what the board says it is. Let me give you my impression: TURKEY!!!!!!!, (a tiny bit of) roastbeef, and two strips of bacon. And some veggies. For more than $8. It was comical the lack of roast beef that thing had on it. They were literally spreading those poor, thin slices out as far as the dexterity of the meat would let them to try and "cover" the turkey. And a note about that turkey: I literally got the very end of the "loaf"...which is categorically unappetizing to see. Even when I commented on this, the guy said, "That's *meat*!" which, I'd bet, wouldn't be the way he saw things were he on the opposite side of the counter.
So I got that, and I decided to splurge and get a fountain drink as well. Somehow, this magical combination tipped the scales at OVER $10.50. I started thinking of *new swear words* as a result, and quickly told the cashier, "You know what? Forget the drink...I'll just have water." For crying out loud...a $10 gift card won't buy me a standard sub and a drink? Unbelievable.
As it turns out, yes: it was kind of unbelievable. I took a look at the menu board, and the dumb-cluck cashier was trying to charge me for a 20-ounce bottle of pop, which is apparently $2.25 by itself. I said, "Wait a minute..." and ended up buying an only-slightly-less-expensive fountain drink at the *correct* price...and my total was then $10.07. Honestly, I'm still miffed about that two-fold:
1. How many other people had this idiot been overcharging for that, and
2. HOW CAN $10 *NOT* BUY A STANDARD SUB AND A DRINK?
I mean, jeepers crappers, people! Ventimiglia, hardly a bastion of low-priced, low-quality sandwiches, ingredients, and beverages, wouldn't be this high! You'd *save money* at Ventimiglia! That's...that's *crazy* talk! This is Jewish deli pricing! For garbage! For literally less than a dollar more, I could have a *fantastic* corned beef sandwich and drink from several local, dependable, quality delis.
Well, maybe "garbage" is a bit harsh, but it's certainly not better than Subway in quality terms. Not at all. I will say this: at least the bacon was crispy. Other than that? The whole sandwich was pretty much at the level of Subway, minus the option of having far better (and more) vegetables.
Here's the worst part: I still have an additional $25 JMS gift card that I have to eventually use. Ugh...it may very well be time to think about cursing someone else with this thing...uh, I mean, giving someone else a wonderful Christmas gift!
In the same way that I've seen many, many Quizno's go the way of the condor, I foresee bunches of Jersey Mike's subs heading on that same path. There's too much competition, and having had, say, DiBella's, there is no stinking *way* that people wouldn't choose to pay *less* for *more* and just plain skip JMS and go to DiBella's. Or, they could just continue to go to Subway. Or Blimpie's. Or Firehouse. Or myriad other sandwich places.
This experience cost me all of seven cents (plus gas, of course, but that doesn't count...), and I am pretty freaking *bitter* about that seven cents. I get the very acute feeling that while the chain may not go away completely, in three years, better than half of them are going to be completely out of the picture. And, at least by me, they won't be missed.
D-plus, if I'm feeling generous, and I don't see why I'd be feeling generous seeing as I had to eat at a dirty table during no rush whatsoever. I think the corporate HQ will be getting a call from me tomorrow about this. What a ridiculous experience.