Friday, August 17, 2012

Bowie Restaurant Project: (55) Jersey Mike's

For an explanation of the Bowie Restaurant Project, look here.

For a list of all the Bowie Restaurant Project reviews, look here.

Jersey Mike's, 6844 Race Track Road
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 8/17/2012
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 2
Pre-Foursquare Visits: No
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars
Jersey Mike's Menu

I had never heard of Jersey Mike's until the Bowie location was announced, but apparently it's one of the five biggest sub chains in America. Huh.

I first went there on the day of their grand opening. The place was packed, and somebody at the door asked me if I was familiar with their offerings, and then suggested I order a #13 Mike's Way. Or maybe he suggested a #7. Anyway, despite the scripted nature of the pitch, I appreciated the attempt at friendliness and ordered a #7. When I got it back to my office, it was surprisingly tasty, particularly the meat.

A little Internet research determined that they take pride in slicing their meat fresh for each sub, rather than breaking out pre-sliced meat, like Subway. I was impressed.

The Bowie Living blog reported a less positive experience with employee banter. On the one hand, that's too bad. On the other hand, if you're preparing a blog entry, you really hope for that sort of thing to punch up your writeup. Anyway, go read it, it's entertaining.

Christina stopped by there around the same time. She said that the employees were actually fairly far off-script and were complaining about the manager, who had just stepped out. She was less impressed with her sub and noted the lack of toppings choice compared to Subway. She also remarked that she had seen better-decorated gas stations.

For today's visit, I decided to try something different, the cheesesteak. A guy took my order before I got up to the sub-prep area, and it wasn't ready when I paid, which was kind of weird. They were still pretty busy, so I had plenty of time to notice the other patrons as I shuffled past the toppings.

The woman behind me pointed at the lettuce and asked if she could get something fresher, because it looked "terrible". Indeed, it was brown enough to have gotten tossed from my fridge at home. The worker behind the counter hesitantly pulled the lettuce and started to take it towards the back. The manager noticed what she was doing and told her to put it back and serve the rest of it.

The worker explained the woman's complaint, which led to a conversation between the customer and the manager. As far as I could tell, the lettuce was eventually yanked, but not without some sort of explanation being offered up. I didn't hear it, and as a customer, I don't really care.

I used to think that you shouldn't speak up about things like that -- just don't get the lettuce, and don't come back. Now I believe there's enough things going wrong that could be pointed out -- let's see if they fix it, and if I have to police the quality of the ingredients every time. So kudos to that woman; I hope she got some fresh lettuce.

As for my cheesesteak? I was so hungry, and it smelled so good that I ended up eating it in the car. The taste however, was not thrilling. Certainly not as good as the turkey sub.

Which leads me to my overall evaluation of Jersey Mike's. I'm glad it's not a Subway. Bowie has enough of those. In some ways it's better than Subway, and in some ways it's worse. But it provides variety.

On the other hand...just walk a few doors down to Chesapeake Grille & Deli. For $6.95, Jersey Mike's will sell you "Jersey Mike's Famous Philly"; for $7.99 you get Chesapeake's "Sirloin Cheese Steak" -- chips included. For $6.99, you can get the "Chicken Cheese Melt", whereas at Jersey Mike's you're still paying $7.99 and not getting chips. Across the board, the prices are fairly similar, though at Jersey Mike's you have a slightly different selection of sandwiches. At Chesapeake Grille, you get a much more diverse menu, though.

So although I'll skip Jersey Mike's in the future and just go to Chesapeake Grille, I give them some points for making Bowie's chain-sub restaurant selection slightly more interesting. So two-and-a-half stars.

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