Downtown Lincoln’s competitive sandwich market just became more competitive with the arrival of Which Wich onto the scene.
Mark Whitehead, president of Whitehead Oil, opened the Dallas-based, quick-serve sandwich shop on Aug. 29 -- just in time for football season -- in the Olsson Associates headquarters at 601 P St., on the edge of The Railyard.
“The first couple of (football) Saturdays people didn’t wander this far over, but the Oregon game was our busiest night ever,” Which Wich general manager Barb Woodruff said. “People finally got accustomed to us being here, and they were getting a bite to eat before they headed home.”
Which Wich’s concept is similar to Highnooner’s -- a longtime downtown Lincoln sandwich shop -- with customers filling out orders on paper bags and customizing their sandwiches with a number of cheese, vegetable, dressing and spice options.
Which Wich’s menu is huge, with multiple hot and cold sandwiches available in 11 different categories. Among the categories is "classic," which includes such sandwich favorites as BLT, gyro, Monte Christo, egg salad and an “Elvis Which” -- peanut butter, bacon, honey and bananas.
The immense menu is what sets Which Wich apart from Highnooner’s or the big sandwich franchises such as Subway, Jimmy John’s and Jersey Mike’s, which also have a store or stores downtown.
Which Wich makes a pretty darn tasty sandwich. Though, compared to Danny’s Downtown Deli, Highnooner’s or even Jimmy John’s, it is more expensive. However, since you can load up your choices with multiple ingredients, the price point is understandable.
Sandwiches are $6 (7 inches), $8.50 (10.5 inches) and $11.50 (14 inches). The signature five-meat, three-cheese The Wicked is more at $7, $10 and $13.50.
The store also offers salad and lettuce-wrapped versions of their sandwiches.
I ordered two 10.5-inchers -- chicken cordon bleu (hot) and tuna salad (cold) -- over the last week. The bread -- white or wheat -- reminds me of Jimmy’s John’s sub rolls in taste and texture. The chicken was high quality white meat with a bunch of flavor.
I mistakenly asked for mayo AND deli mustard on my chicken sandwich. That proved to be too much, with the sandwich dripping in the condiments and overwhelming the chicken, ham and provolone cheese. I’ll know better next time.
The tuna was refreshing, light on the mayo. I added banana peppers and tomatoes to give it some character and color. I will definitely go that route again.
Customers can add chips ($1.25) and a drink ($1.75). Disappointingly, there is no soup or sides such as potato or macaroni salads available. Grade: B
Which Wich features a bright yellow -- really bright -- 70-seat dining room, with the best seating around the corner away from the bag and front counters, where it can get a little congested at busy times. The store also has seating outdoors for another 25 patrons.
The most attractive feature actually is the bag counter, opposite the front counter. The bags are lined in order by sandwiches -- turkey, ham and pork, beef, etc. -- in metal “mailboxes” attached to the wall. A large menu hangs above the bags, with descriptions of each sandwich. It’s not unusual to see people just standing and looking up. Grade: C+
Newcomers can be overwhelmed and even intimidated by Which Wich’s ordering process, but Woodruff’s crew does a super job helping the uninitiated.
You select a bag and mark your choices on it for type (sandwich, salad, lettuce wrap), bread, temperature (hot or cold), cheeses, dressings, veggies and spices. Then you turn the bag in, pay, wait for your name to be called and pick up your order at another window. Sandwiches take just a few minutes to assemble, longer if they are hot.
Which Wich offers online and mobile ordering just like Jimmy John’s, Subway and Jersey Mike’s. I tried it out, with the app offering a variety of pick-up times. It worked smoothly other than getting white instead of the ordered wheat bread.
While Which Wich will deliver large, catered orders, it doesn’t have a bunch of people on bikes delivering single sandwiches downtown like Jimmy John’s. Which Wich offers delivery at locations in other cities, but “we’re not at the point yet,” Woodruff said. Limited delivery in the downtown and Haymarket area would be something to consider. Grade: B
Which Wich’s menu includes five vegetarian sandwiches -- black bean patty, hummus, tomato and avocado, caprese and artichoke hearts. The black bean, hummus and tomato and avocado sandwiches are vegan friendly.
Which wich doesn’t carry a gluten-free bread, but, as noted earlier, makes sandwiches available as a salad (Bowlwich) or a lettuce wrap (Lettucewich). Plus, with multiple vegetables, dressings and spices, the choices are endless.
Finally, online Which Wich provides nutritional info for each sandwich, with a rundown of calories, carbs, total fat and more. Grade: A.