*Picture from Photobucket
Both the best and the worst thing about chain enterprises is their uniformity. Anywhere in the United States you can count on a McDonalds to be a McDonalds, taste ascertained and design cemented by franchises everywhere. There are minor variations in different locations, but in the face of less recognizable smaller businesses that hardly makes a difference. No matter how anti-establishment you are, you are unlikely to exist outside the mold to the extent that you resist the Golden Arches each and every time the opportunity to patronize it is thrown at you. Most people are not risk takers. They want their $6.00 to ensure predictability in their food as much as in the fact that their purchase will ensure the food itself. Quality is a variable less often seen than ubiquity.
Enter Jimmy John’s. The meat and the bread are fresh each day. You get the good part of the lettuce and a generous serving of cheese. They paint a predictable amount of good mayonnaise across the inside of the French bread. They make the sandwiches quickly and the space behind the counter is not designed to obscure what the cooks are doing. They have clever plaques on the walls that say things like “Your Mom Wants You To Eat At Jimmy John’s” that look like they belong in a small shop but in fact are in every Jimmy John’s. And they deliver.
Every time I order, the sub tastes the same. (Note: The subs are much better than the sandwiches.) The bread is the same, the sub is the same size, and it’s served cold. These are good things in this case, not bad. And it’s great, but isn’t like what you’d buy in a deli. The best sub I’ve ever had was from an Italian place called Capriotti’s on the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach. But even if Capriotti’s were nearby I’d patronize Jimmy John’s too. There is a consistency, a streamlined dignity about my #6 vegetarian sub that I don’t find anywhere else. And Subway, Jimmy John’s competitor, is not only much poorer quality but lacks the cohesiveness seen in the latter. Even when I saw half a Jimmy John’s sub on the ground I recognized the shape. The appeal of fast food chains is as much ideological as it is convenience or taste-based, and Jimmy John’s has all those plus the least common factor: the food is good.
Recommended: #6 Vegetarian Sub