Monday, March 1, 2010

Grand Hu$tle: PotBelly Sandwich Works.

I don't get to each out at work much since I usually hit the gym or bring my lunch from home, but when I do, I usually stroll across the street and get me a sammich from PotBelly. This fast casual franchise hit DC a few years ago, and their cheap, stuffed subs are a surefire way to get filled up without spending a lot of money. Even better, with pickled vegetables, lean meats, and wheat bread, the food is halfway healthy if you order the right thing.

I hadn't been in awhile until my co-worker asked me to go with him the other day. When we walk in, I notice the menu has been expanded (they used to only have subs in 1 size) to include "Skinny", and "Big" subs, in addition to the "Original" I usually cop. I order my "Original" sandwich, tell the fixin's dude what to put on it once it's finished toasting, pay, and bounce. When I get back to the office and open the bag, I am freakin' stunned at what I see.

The "Original" sub is now about 2 inches shorter than the "Original" sub I used to pay the same money for. I walk down the hallway to check with my co-worker, who bought a "Big" (which is like $1.50 more) and wouldn't you know it, the "Big" is the same size as the original "Original".

And this bout' a b*tch?!? Where Is Obama?!?

The Grand Hu$tle here is obvious, and it ain't original. In these lean economic times, many restaurants are quietly subbing in smaller portions and increasing the price of entrees to make up for higher operating and food costs. McDonald's infamously raised the price of the Double Cheeseburger 30 cents, and rebranded the old $1 sandwich a McDouble, although it is missing one slice of cheese. So it's no shock that PotBelly would pull this bait & switch. The illusion of getting something bigger, when reality is you're paying more for the same is a sign of the times, but I think it sucks. Seriously, why not just raise the price on the old "Original", make an even bigger sandwich that's even more expensive than that, and create a value sized "Small" for the people accustomed to paying the old price?

I know this probably sounds extremely trivial to ya'll, but it sucks. So I gotta call this bait & switch like I see it. It's a textbook Grand Hu$tle.

Next time, I'm walking in the other direction. To Subway.

Question: Got any similar food-related Grand Hu$tle's you've noticed of late? Is PotBelly being dishonest with their labelling of sizes, or is this sort of tactic fair game?

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