It seemed like only yesterday that I walked into my beloved Which Wich in Blanton Hall and everything had changed for the worst. In reality, it was just five months ago in September, which depending on who you ask, can either be a long or a short time.
The shop ceased operations on campus mere months after my first opinion piece on the negative changes at Which Wich. I found it only fitting to write a second opinion piece stating my farewell to the shop, shortly before its final day.
Before it fully closed, however, Montclair State University had already announced that a Jersey Mike’s would be opening up in its place the following semester. The news was met positively by the student body, and the Blanton Hall Jersey Mike’s opened with a trial week on Feb. 4 before officially opening its doors on Monday, Feb. 10. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to write my first restaurant review, a fitting conclusion to my trilogy of sandwich-related articles.
I was in attendance at Jersey Mike’s on its opening day, about a week after its soft opening. I had passed by it a few times during its soft opening and saw the huge line of students filling the store waiting for their turn to order a sandwich. Fortunately, I showed up at noon on opening day, so the line wasn’t that long.
However, the line seemed too long for a group of friends ahead of me. They exited the line after only being in it for a few minutes, clearly impatient. I overheard them say they were going to the location in Secaucus, which according to them was way better. This was not the most promising sign for my first time at the Montclair State location.
Jersey Mike’s features a selection of cold and hot sandwiches, but the day that I was there they had signs set up everywhere stating that due to problems with their oven they would not be making hot sandwiches that day. This struck me as particularly troubling considering that it was only their first day officially open and they were already having issues.
It just so happened that I was in the mood for a cold sub anyway, so the news of the malfunctioning oven had little effect on my mood. I ordered the original Italian sub, with provolone cheese, ham, pepperoni, salami, prosciuttini and cappacuolo.
One of the first things I noticed while ordering my sandwich is that they all come in only one size. At its highest point, Which Wich featured three different sandwich size options to select from and even at its lowest they still had two different sandwich size selections.
I made a decision to not let my limited sandwich sizes ruin my experience. I would let the sandwich speak for itself.
One thing I noticed was that they did not toast the bread, which is something Which Wich always did. I’m not sure if this is something of normal practice at Jersey Mike’s because I ordered a cold sub, or if this was due to the oven not working.
Luckily the bread wasn’t stale, so it didn’t take that much away from my sandwich-eating experience. The bread wasn’t completely fresh, but it could have been much worse.
I was also pleased with the amount of meat in my sandwich. It was enough to please any lover of sandwiches, but it was not overbearing to the point where one would need to fear for their cardiovascular health. It was appropriate and satisfying.
I would say my sandwich and overall experience at the new on-campus Jersey Mike’s was standard. My sandwich was a conventionally good sandwich. It had meat, lettuce, tomato, pepper and mayo on white bread. It tasted exactly how you expect a good sandwich to taste.
But that was it. There was nothing out of this world about the sub. My visit to the shop in Blanton Hall was average and not special.
I would say that Jersey Mike’s is definitely better than Which Wich at its lowest, but it is not better than Which Wich at its highest. The sandwich menu used to be large and varied with something for everyone. The sandwiches used to be addictive and special. Now, they have been replaced by sandwiches that are just as good as any other decent sandwich.
I’m not saying Jersey Mike’s isn’t worth eating, because it is. I’m just saying it feels like we’re settling for something we used to have. The current sandwich shop at Blanton Hall is only a shadow of its own illustrious past and it certainly doesn’t justify the lines of students leading nearly out the doors.
Time will pass and the lines will soon vanish. As Jersey Mike’s gradually becomes just another part of our daily routine, the memory of what once stood there will vanish with it.
But, until then, I will most likely end up at Jersey Mike’s again soon if I ever forget to bring my own lunch from home and want some decent food on campus, compared with all the less than decent options I am provided with.