One thing I’ve learned during our great house hunt: Looking for a new house sure makes you hungry.
We were deep into a day of touring possible homes with our Realtor, Art, and with a little time before our next scheduled appointment, I voted for lunch. There are many restaurant options in west Augusta, but I suggested a new place I’d had my eye on for a while: Which Wich. Art – agreeable as always – agreed.
The sandwich shop is part of a franchise that has been named one of the fastest-growing franchises in the nation. Launched Dec. 15, 2003, Which Wich now has locations throughout the U.S., including several in Atlanta but only one in Augusta. An Aiken location opened in October.
Inside, the look is fun – reminding me of another franchise, Jimmy John’s. Bright yellow, chrome and pale wood make it bright and modern. It’s clear they do a lot of takeout, but there were plenty of dine-ins, too, with a several two-tops, four-tops and single seating available.
On one wall was the ordering station: A huge menu of the 50-plus sandwich options hovered over a gleaming chrome kiosk filled with 10 different, printed brown paper bags and cups of red Sharpies.
The concept sounds simple: Grab a pen, choose your envelope and start marking off your choices. But with so many options, it was incredibly hard. I felt like I was taking a quiz, and if I failed, my lunch would be doomed.
Our choices included sandwiches made with turkey, ham and pork, beef, chicken, seafood, vegetarian, Italian, classic sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches, kids’ options, Which Wich’s signature sandwich with five meats and three cheeses, and even an R&D option, featuring sandwiches from the company’s test kitchen.
Sandwiches can be served cold or hot, and also small (7 inches), medium (10 inches) or large (14 inches), in a bowl or with a lettuce wrap.
Multiple additional options, including breads, cheese, spreads and sauces, mustards, mayos, dressings, onions, veggies, and oils and spices let you customize your ’wich even further. Other brown paper bags are also available to order one of several milkshake varieties and cookies.
While we waffled, Art was decisive – selecting a corned beef with cole slaw and Russian dressing on rye. He set a good example: Sean soon selected the Bac-Hammon, with bacon and ham; and I decided to try the day’s R&D – a Philly cheese steak.
“Anything with Cheese Whiz must be good,” I said blithely as I marked my choices off with a red pen, eliciting a chuckle from another customer down the line.
I forgot to write my name down on my bag, but after several shouts of “No name! No name!” we figured out that my sandwich was ready. Sean’s and Art’s were too, so we dug in. Sean had added an order of Which Wich’s house chips, which are thick, ruffled and seasoned with lime and black pepper – they were so good that he went back for another bag.
“They don’t skimp on the meat,” said Art, showing us his sandwich. When I asked how it was, he said, “Delicious.” In fact, he said that it rivaled true deli sandwiches that he used to order when he lived in New York – with the corned beef, cole slaw and Russian dressing blending together nicely in flavor.
The flavors of bacon and ham – overlaid with the sharp tang of Dijon mustard – really overwhelmed Sean’s sandwich, even with the lettuce and cheese he added. It’s unheard of in the South, but I think it is one instance where there might be a little too much pork.
Mine was a bit uneven, with the onions all in the second half of the sandwich and somewhat salty in places, but what can I say: beef and Cheese Whiz is never a bad combination, and it was exactly what I wanted that day.
What sets the shop apart, says its founder (and Chief Vibe Officer), Jeff Sinelli, is its sense of community and dedication to satisfaction and service. It’s why Which Wich has its own music (go to its Web site and you can take a listen); offers free Wi-Fi; and encourages diners to draw on the backs of their bags and create a red Sharpie masterpiece to hang on the community art wall.
As we headed out to our next appointment, I felt good: We’d enjoyed a good, fast lunch and were about to look at some more great houses. Sounds like the vibes at Which Wich were working.
ON THE MENU
• IN AUGUSTA: Which Wich, 3668 Wheeler Road, Suite B
HOURS: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
SECOND HELPING: (706) 922-7900, (706) 790-7909 (fax), email@example.com, whichwich.com
• IN AIKEN: 2645 Whiskey Road, Aiken
HOURS: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday- Friday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday; 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday
SECOND HELPING: (803) 226-0424, (803) 226-0439 (fax), firstname.lastname@example.org