accessAtlanta

City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

How much is too much for a sandwich?

(Credit: Wikimedia)

(Credit: Wikimedia)

Yesterday’s post on Super Pan Latino Sandwich Shop kicked up a bit of dust in the comments section about its relatively high prices. Some thought that $12 sounded like too much to pay for the beef rib bolillo — a crusty submarine packed with shredded beef. I agree that it’s not a price I’d pay all the time, but it seemed fair considering the amazing girth of this sandwich (I think two people could share it with a salad) and the evident quality of the ingredients.

I noticed the same discussion going on after Creative Loafing’s rave review of Super Pan.

So I ask you: what’s the upper limit a restaurant should charge for a sandwich? Does the very word “sandwich” tacitly mean that it should come in under $10?

And doesn’t Flip Burger Boutique serve a $40 Kobe/foie gras burger?

105 comments Add your comment

Colly

September 1st, 2010
8:51 am

I get your point about sandwich girth and high quality ingredients, and I agree that Hector knows what he’s doing with ingredients, but $12 exceeds my mental sandwich price point. Particularly for lunch. Doesn’t jive with hard times, for sure.

Nancy

September 1st, 2010
8:55 am

lunch should never exceed eight dollars

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ajcdinecritic, John Kessler. John Kessler said: How much is too much for a sandwich? http://bit.ly/atJ8ig [...]

Andrew H

September 1st, 2010
9:01 am

I would happily pay 12 dollars for a sandwich from Star Provisions or Super Pan. My reasoning is that these sandwiches are at least twice as good as sanwiches from places like Rising Roll, Panera Bread, Quiznos etc…both in taste and quality of ingredients. Don’t underestimate how good these sandwiches are.

Ivan S.

September 1st, 2010
9:06 am

For you fans of Flip, Farm, Yeah!, etc. what’s the difference between paying a lot for a high quality sandwich and a high-quality burger?

Stephen

September 1st, 2010
9:13 am

If you use quality ingredients and skill to make a meal, it’s right to charge more. The fact that it’s between two pieces of bread shouldn’t change that. I agree, though, that the word “sandwich” makes me think that it is relatively cheap. However, with reviews listing the prices, an online menu listing the prices, and the restaurant itself listing the prices, it’s not like most people are gonna be tricked into breaking the bank when they go to lunch. If it’s too much for you, go somewhere else and accept the fact that not all reviews or restaurants are made specifically for you.

Son of Puerquito

September 1st, 2010
9:15 am

Is Flip really serving Kobe of is it Wagyu? There is a difference.

Hugh Jarsole

September 1st, 2010
9:42 am

The old adage still rings true – ‘you get what you pay for’. I splurged for a $10 Super Pan ’sandwich’ and it was a real treat. For 1/2 the price, I love the torta milanesa at Cuerna Vaca, and for just $2.50 you cannot beat the bbq pork banh mi at Quoc Huong. Options! Gotta love ‘em….

regularfoodie

September 1st, 2010
9:54 am

Funny, my husband and I have this same argument. I am fine with paying a bit more for a good sandwich. The form doesn’t present inherent limitations to me, I think of it as a portable gourmet meal. He, on the other hand, is instantly turned off by any sandwich over $10. I will say that he is happy to enjoy a fantastic and pricey sandwich as long as he isn’t present for the payment portion of the meal! It really all comes down to the ingredients and what you are looking for in the meal. If you want cheap the quality may (not always though) suffer. You can get often get a great bahn mi or Cuban sandwich for a very reasonable price. That being said, some sandwiches, a $40 burger for example, seem to me to be just trying to push the limit to see whether you can get someone to actually bite.

Steve

September 1st, 2010
10:17 am

I think it all depends on the ingredients. I’ve got no problem spending over $10 on a sandwich from Super Pan or Star Provisions because I know how good the quality will be. You are paying for better quality ingridients as well as the preparation/creation from a top notch chef who knows flavor combinations and balance much better than someone throwing something together at some random sandwich shop. I agree, its not for everyone. But I think its very similar to going out for a steak. You can go to Outback and get a steak or you can go to BLT/Bones/Rathbuns Steak and get a steak…the quality will speak for itself.

@Puerquito: Flip uses real Kobe…it’s A5 imported japanese kobe. IMO, its kind of a waste to ground up such amazing meat into a burger. I’d much rather enjoy it as a steak sandwich.

Michele Niesen

September 1st, 2010
10:57 am

If the ingredients were deconstructed and served as an entree (with a “free” basket of bread at the table) you’d probably pay $15-$18 and call it reasonable. It’s semantics. After 10 years as a chef/owner I played a lot with language. There’s nearly more psychology than cookology going on as a restaurateur. Kobe beef as a burger is dumb. It’s like putting Corazon tequila with sour mix for a margarita at $12. If you’re going to pay the top shelf dollar for an ingredient folks, why would you mask it? It’s your palate at the end of it, but I”ll bet there’s every bit of $12 (or more) in labor, ingredients, know how, quality and service in that sandwich. And to the person who said “Doesn’t speak of hard times–” Puhleeze. Hard times means you’re makin’ that sandwich at home. With Spam. And the bean can. Why should this guy work for free because you’re too lazy to make your own sandwich? Pfft. Americans and their “hard times”. And addiction to cheap food. restaurants are a luxury. You sit on your butt and someone brings you stuff. I think he should charge $15.

How many cheap fried tilapia tacos with mayo on a 3 cent flour tortilla can you people eat? and stand in line for? Yuck. At $3 that’s probably a 500% mark up. And you’ll need a side of slaw. And some chips. And beans. And salsa. And another taco cuz that one was the size a #2 pencil. Your “cheap” taco night out will run you $20. It’s deceptive as it presents itself as a ‘value’ resto. At least Super Pan is up front about it. It’s just good. And it’s $12. If you can’t afford it, learn to cook or cruise through Don Taco on your way home.

rpp

September 1st, 2010
11:25 am

Son of Puerquito -
There is actually not a difference between Kobe and Wagyu. Kobe is a town (region) of Japan and Wagyu is a style of beef that comes from Kobe. Now the cows here in the U.S. have been crossbred with angus cows and is considered Kobe-Style or rather in the Wagyu-Style. But all in all they are the same.

Reds

September 1st, 2010
11:45 am

Depends on the sammich. :) But, if it was exactly what I was looking for, and I had good reason to think that it would be worth it, I probably would.

KEAD

September 1st, 2010
12:00 pm

You make the point that two people *could* probably share it, but I’d say that many wouldn’t. My husband and I have different palates, and we would order something different almost 100% of the time. Thus, I’d rather see the sandwich more reasonably portioned for one, and pay about $6 to $7. Sandwiches should be designed for the lone diner, not with the assumption that it will be a shared meal.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michael Erickson, accessAtlanta. accessAtlanta said: Would you pay $12 for a sandwich? What if it was a really meaty one that 2 people could share? http://bit.ly/bkbKOM [...]

reservoirDAWG

September 1st, 2010
12:11 pm

I bet Tyler Pyke’s dad doesn’t charge $12 for a sandwich.

Son of Puerquito

September 1st, 2010
12:17 pm

@ rpp: I think i asked the question incorrectly. I meant to say American Wagyu. And no, they are not practically the same – their genetic composition (as you mentioned) is different.
Next you are going to tell me that Champagne is the same as sparkling wine because they can me made from the same grapes using the same methods…

shaggy

September 1st, 2010
12:19 pm

Michele Nielsen,

How dare you insult our money conciousness. No wonder you “played” past tense, when you were a “Chef Ramsey wannabe”. You probably sucked enough to finally go out of business, or maybe you were actually a Waffle House short order cook that talks big.
Morons like you cause me to put my money right back in my pocket and make you beg and grovel for it – then go buy something else just to pi$$ you off.. We are the customers and NEVER forget it. If you insult your customers, instead of delivering something WE WANT TO BUY, you will cease to exist, and I say GOOD RIDDANCE!

good food

September 1st, 2010
12:20 pm

I agree with Michele Niesen. I ate at the Supper Club and she clearly knows what she is talking about! If you can’t afford to eat well that’s fine and understandable but there are people who know the difference between quality and quantity and will pay a higher price to get what they want. If you don’t want to pay $12 for a sandwich then buy some ham and cheese and make a sandwich at home but don’t criticize others.

Daniel A.

September 1st, 2010
12:20 pm

I think the sandwich should be priced accordingly. If the ingredients are fresh, the meat cooked well, time and effort put into making a delicious sandwich, then by all means, I have no problem paying for one. Please just don’t give me a sandwich put together sloppily without any thought into it’s creation and put an uncorrelated price tag on it.

people are nuts!

September 1st, 2010
12:22 pm

Shaggy…clearly you aren’t familiar with the successful restaurants Michele has been part of….have fun at 2 for $20 night!

Steve

September 1st, 2010
12:25 pm

@rpp, you are wrong. Wagyu is a type of cattle (Wagya means Japanese cattle) that is genetically predisposed to heavy marbling. These cattle can be found all over the world and are no longer specific to Japan. Kobe is a specific breed of Wagyu (black Tajima-ushi) that is only found in Kobe, Japan and are cared for using strict local guidelines. There is a huge difference between Kobe and other types of Wagyu including price ($26/oz vs. $8/oz), marbling, and flavor.

CommonSenseRules

September 1st, 2010
12:33 pm

As an old vet said to me years ago, when I opined that the purse for a prize fight wasn’t worth it: “Kiddo, it’s worth it as long as there’s somebody willing to pay it.”

Two related observations: Caveat Emptor. The market rules!

foodfan

September 1st, 2010
12:37 pm

The size / price isn’t as worrisome as the origins of the food. Is it organic, conventional, or GMO? Are you receiving balanced nutrition for the price you paid? Food science is alive and well.

David S

September 1st, 2010
12:42 pm

The beauty of the market is that the combined decisions of every voluntary consumer will decide what the right price is. It will not take the oppressive hand of government to figure this out and when all is said and done, everyone will feel good about the outcome because everyone’s actions will be voluntary. If only everything was handled this way.

Max

September 1st, 2010
12:45 pm

If you think it is too much then go one block south to Buddy’s gas station with a Blimpes. But if you want something really different and don’t mind waiting inline with all the other people who think it’s a good value then you will love it. I love the tappas, the outdoor burrito stand, the family sunday dinner and Super Pan. Hector is Atlanta’s real TOP CHEF!

I don't know that I would refer...

September 1st, 2010
12:54 pm

…to a sandwich maker as a “TOP CHEF”, no matter what his background…

Rodney

September 1st, 2010
12:55 pm

VITRIOL!!! My goodness you all are especially snippy today.

I don’t believe the how-much-is-too-much question is really one that can be answered. Do I think $12 per sandwich is too much? No, not if the sandwich is a $12 sandwich. Heck, if I ran up on a $20 sandwich and it seemed appropriate and I wanted to eat it I’d morenlikely buy it.

Sean M

September 1st, 2010
12:56 pm

Michele is my MF hero <3

shaggy

September 1st, 2010
12:57 pm

people are nuts!

Thanks, I hope to never eat at one either. I am sure they are pretentious, overpriced, “themed” garbage dumps.
Does “Michele” let you rub the knife handle in adoration?

hildymac

September 1st, 2010
12:59 pm

Shaggy, if you prefer going to places that offer cheap eats, and if your palate considers that to be good enough food for you, then fine. There’s nothing wrong with hitting up Chili’s once in a while – but you have to remember that’s chain food and not what everyone wants all of the time. There’s also nothing wrong with going for quality if you can afford it, or if you want to afford it by budgeting for treats once in a while.

I agree with Michele Niesen – think about what you order for the price. You add stuff onto the cheap food and then you wind up spending as much (if not more) than if you just would have bought the more expensive entree to begin with. It’s a trick of a menu. Quite frankly with food, very often you get what you pay for. If you’re spending $1 on a taco at Taco Bell, and then $7 on a lobster taco at Noche (just puling that out of the air – I’m not a huge Noche fan past those tacos), do you honestly think that the one from Taco Bell is as good as the one from Noche?

Everyone has different tastes and ability to pay, but there’s nothing wrong with eating to the max of your budget level. Why people don’t want to eat decent food that tastes good is beyond me. $5 for a burger at Burger King or $5 for one at Five Guys – think about it that way if that makes more sense.

And has been suggested before, if you can’t swing going out, make something at home – you can make decent quality food at home by buying fresh ingredients at the grocery store and following a recipe – if you’re good enough, it’s better than going out and cheaper to boot.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kim Bannerman, Kim Martin Bannerman. Kim Martin Bannerman said: WORTH every penny!!! Timely article, just ate at Super Pan for lunch today. 2 sandwiches and 2 drinks=$35 http://bit.ly/aLmfmr [...]

Kim

September 1st, 2010
1:01 pm

I happily will pay $12+ for:
-locally sourced, humane, organic/sustainable meats and ingredients
-a sandwich like none that I’ve ever tasted before

I tried Super Pan for the first time today, and am sad they’re only open Tues-Fri during lunch hours!!

SamE knows best

September 1st, 2010
1:05 pm

@ Rodney
You are soo right! I have “done the math” and found that cheaper priced foods are typically grossly inflated for what you’re getting versus an food item that is more. If a sandwhich or whatever costs btwn 10-12 and I can eat from it twice, then I think it was worth it, and more so than not, higher prices foods offer more than average sized portions. So,everyone just needs to calm down, it’s only Wednesday!

Steve

September 1st, 2010
1:10 pm

“I don’t know that I would refer to a sandwich maker as a “TOP CHEF”…. what an ignorant comment. You do know that many of the best chefs in the country have opened sandwich shops…Xoco (Rick Bayless), ‘wichcraft (Tom Colicchio)

ziza

September 1st, 2010
1:12 pm

I’m definitely willing to pay more for good quality whether its a meal, a sandwich, a car or a suit. a sandwich that big (like Katz’ Deli in NY where sandwiches are $14.95) would be shared between me and a dining companion however… but pay i would. and do. and happily. :-)

Slowmo

September 1st, 2010
1:13 pm

The prime rib sandwich at Houston’s is $17 and I have never felt ripped off ordering it at lunch. If you want nicer food, get a better job with more money and maybe you can afford it.

JRC

September 1st, 2010
1:14 pm

Does it really matter? We all get a vote with our wallets. If you value what is being offered enough to pay for it, buy it and enjoy. If you don’t like the value proposition, skip it and spend your money on something that makes you happy. Hector’s obligation is to run a business, and he has taken a calculated risk that people will pay a price for what he is offering. If he is wrong, SuperPan goes the way of other businesses that misjudge the market.

At a time when the only restaurant risks in the Atlanta restaurant scene are being taken on hamburgers and popsicles, I for one applaud the effort and will go buy one. If it sucks, or is only pretty good, then I won’t go back.

Observer

September 1st, 2010
1:18 pm

If the size is large enough to make two meals, and the sandwich will be as good when I eat the leftovers, $12 might be okay. But generally, I think that $12 is steep for lunch.

Wino

September 1st, 2010
1:20 pm

The answer is painfully simple. Too expensive is when not enough sandwiches are purchased to make a profit.

Maddernheck

September 1st, 2010
1:30 pm

If ya’ll can afford $12 plus for lunch – can I please know where you work? That’s nowhere near my lunch budget. I’m a coupon-cutting, $4.99 lunch special kind of gal. Where do I apply?

Wino

September 1st, 2010
1:32 pm

Shaggy, decaf next time. Michele gave her name. She has been around a while and has earned her reputation. The fact that you didn’t recognize it makes me think you’ve been watching Gordon Ramsey and imagining having a good meal some day.

dboy

September 1st, 2010
1:33 pm

Cheap food is killing our country and our world. Our nations desire for large portions and cheap prices are fueling our obesity issue in our country. Cheap food has it’s price and it is showing up on America’s waistline. I have never understood why people think you should only spend X amount on lunch. Lunch should be your largest meal of the day fueling your afternoon activities. It is funny I bet there are lots of folks out there saying they would not pay $12 for a sandwich but will go out and blow that on a cocktail or cocktails.

I have eaten at Super Pan. I had the Pork Buns and shared an empanada with a friend. I have to say that when my pork buns came I was a little concerned that the portion size was a little too small, but I left full and happy. Well not too full that I was not able to walk around the block for a cup cake! I would highly recommend Super Pan and a walk around the block for a cup cake.

Big C

September 1st, 2010
1:36 pm

Shaggy…Sounds like you’re full of the $3 value meals you constantly eat! If you don’t want to pay the expensive prices, don’t frequent the establishment. But why do you feel like you have to personally attack Michele for her opinion/truth. What, does the truth hurt your little feelings?

Kimbo

September 1st, 2010
1:38 pm

I shelled out $17 for a reuben at Carnegie Deli in NYC. I’ve also shelled at $20+ for a sandwich at Roy’s Place in Gaithersburg, Maryland – grilled sausages, saurkraut, hot peppers, cole slaw, baked beans and a steak all between two buns. Delicious. I do not regret either of these purchases whatsoever.

Tim

September 1st, 2010
1:42 pm

Low priced, but fresh..and CLEAN…..a new Blimpie that just opened in the Kennesaw/Marietta area (near harrison high scool) this place is GREAT..fresh everything, friendly staff, best blimpie ive ever seen or been to. They opened recently, and have a great selection, perfect for a quick lunch or dinner!

tim

NOle

September 1st, 2010
1:45 pm

Flp is not using imported kobe- it is domestic

Big C

September 1st, 2010
1:48 pm

I happily shell out $15 or more for the crab cake sandwich @ G&M in Linthicum, MD or for a White House Sub in Atlantic City. WELL worth it!!!

Big C

September 1st, 2010
1:49 pm

Damn Kimbo! That sounds like a great sandwich!!! LOL!

Steve

September 1st, 2010
1:54 pm

flip is definitely using imported. I asked last time I was there plus its also stated on the menu (”A5 grade imported japanese kobe”).