I recently read Tyler Cowen’s An Economist Eats Lunch, and I found it to be an interesting book. It presents a certain way of thinking about food with a heavy focus on thinking about inputs, demand, and how other such market forces might influence things. One of the suggestions is to seek out restaurants where the cost of operation is subsidized by a related enterprise. A family run restaurant attached to a motel owned by the same family is one example, restaurants at the back of a casino another. Upon realized that Coach House had a well stocked deli counter stuck in the middle of a moderately upscale liquor store, I thought back to Cowen’s advice. The reasoning here is that liquor stores tend to do good business, and therefore there would be less pressure on the restaurant to squeeze the maximum profits out of everything. That’s where you run into pre-packaged avocado spreads, tired and wilted veggies, that sort of horror. And indeed, that’s what I found: the gentlemen manning the sandwich counter told me everything was cut fresh for the day, nothing was packaged. Subsidized by the surrounding liquor, the risk of wasting some food isn’t such a dire threat to the owner’s margins, and a better sandwich than might otherwise be had is the result.
The Kaiser is corned beef and pastrami, swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickled jalapeños, and it was a fine sandwich. What seems logically reasonable holds true in practice. The ingredients were fresh, the price fair, everything you might expect from an establishment with some relief from the pressure faced by most. Thinking about it, this isn’t the first time this thinking has yielded me a fine meal. Bibo’s NY Pizza, one of the better places to get a slice in San Jose, was formerly located off the back of a liquor store. My own beloved Bánh Mì Saigon is in the back half of a jewelry store. This isn’t your average way to find a fine sandwich, looking around for something that might be riding some other business’ coat tails, but I suggest to you that if it results in a sandwich as tasty as the above it’s as fine a way to search as any.