Delectible Pieces / Amanda Lenk – Roast beef with a side of funny bone


The policeman shifted subtly from foot to foot, his thumbs hooked seriously into his thick belt near his holstered sidearm, as he squinted into the light; I wanted badly to know what he would order, but I forgot to pay attention. I was thinking about how incredibly tan his scalp beneath his very close cut hair was, and how frightfully pale I am, and how funny it is that Jimmy Johns with its irreverent humor can be so right about so much while apparently poking fun at everything and everyone.

Just moments before I had been reading the list of Jimmy Johns Dos and Donts posted on the far wall of the restaurant. Do, the sign said, offer your seat to Senior Citizens, Pregnant Women, and People with Firearms. I had sniggered, out loud. It is hard for me to decide what embarrassed me more, the laugh, a snort really, or that Jimmy Johns humor, at once contrived, sentimental and edgy, was winning me over.

How could the powers that be at Jimmy Johns have guessed that a tan man with a firearm would stand in line and challenge what I think about the intuitive, predictive nature of clever sandwich joints? The answer is, simply, that Jimmy Johns is something special: It is democratic, it is tasty, it is fresh, it is accessible. It is because Jimmy Johns is all these things (and very affordable too) that the humor it espouses takes the high road while acknowledging the base. And isnt that what satisfying hunger is all about?

Take for example the admonition on one sign to spread ones napkin on ones lap but to avoid the laps of others. Excellent advice! Especially since Jimmy Johns napkins are emblazoned with the emphatic command to WIPE! The signage is a big part of the personality of Jimmy Johns, and Karl Finkelnburg, owner and manager of the Jimmy Johns at Carlyle explains, The problem with people loving the irreverent signs is that people steal them.  Here is another good reason to encourage people with firearms to take a seat: sign protection.

Everything tongue-in-cheek is well executed at Jimmy Johns, not least of all the food. We bake the French loaf throughout the day, and the wheat bread, because it take longer, we make just in the morning, Finkelnburg said. You know the bread makes the sandwich. The bread is very good. The wheat is sliced thick with a brown crust that is lightly chewy and has a soft but sturdy interior, the kind that bends around the fillings without loosing its shape. The French bread, too, has very good flavor and is crusty, spongy, substantive.

What goes inside the bread is also emphatically good. Sipping my Diet Coke out of a cup labeled DRINK! and thinking about the #2, aka the Big John with its slices of medium rare roast beef (and it really is on the rare side of medium, pink and sliced evenly and very moist) with tomato and yummy mayo, I find myself saying, YUM!

Jimmy Johns delivers. Literally. With its fleet of one car, two scooters and able-bodied walkers, the sandwiches from Jimmy Johns are at your beck and call if yo are in the Carlyle or Eisenhower area. Consider having the #15 Club Tuna sent over it offers great big chunky pieces of tuna that are lightly dressed and very flavorful.

Jimmy Johns slices its meats and cheeses and veggies in-house daily.  The staff is friendly and the store is immaculate; come lunchtime it is crowded with a beautiful diversity (twice I have been the only woman in the crowded shop, but Mr. Finkeenberg assures me he sees a lot of ladies on the premises and that they tend to favor the #4 and the #12- girls, it seems, like turkey.)

EAT! DRINK! WIPE! It is a good sign that Jimmy Johns exclamatory commands demand action. The ENJOY! part of Jimmy Johns equation is assumed on behalf of the management because they make simple sandwiches to high standards. DO give the chain, founded in Illinois, a try. DONT steal the signs. DO enjoy yourself, if you DONT youre missing the point.