Jeff Smith 4 p.m., Dec. 20
Winds of Change in Coronado
Wow. Blink in Coronado, and a place has closed or another’s opening up.
Latest: Stretch’s, the much-loved locovore health-food eatery: gone, kaput.
Stretch’s is going to become Delux Gourmet Hot Dogs (943 Orange Avenue), due to open mid-December. Lord. Carla'll be over here every day.
I met Steve Rapp at the doorway.
Steve Rapp, who's converting Stretch's into Delux Gourmet Hot Dogs
Steve’s a builder. “All I do is build places like this, rip ’em out a couple of years or 20 years later, and then build them into something else,” he says.
But does “gourmet” mean expensive?
“No,” says Steve. “Kirsten — she's one of the owners — says they’re going to be reasonable. Especially the Daily Dogs. The Deluxe will be a bit more, but she wants kids from the high school to be able to afford them.”
And, don’t worry: the lady knows hotdogs. Turns out Kirsten Bertz grew up in Chicago.
Across the road, Chance Bistro is history and, in its place, a sandwich joint out of Dallas, Texas.
It’s been up and running a couple of weeks already. Which Wich (926 Orange Avenue, 619-522-9424).
After the arty, table-clothed Chance, Which Wich looks cool and spare. White walls, black ceiling, cluster of kids at the back making up the sandwiches.
First, you’ve gotta learn the system. Rack of paper bags, each a different category, such as Turkey, Beef, Classics (such as BLT), or Comforts, (egg salad, BBQ-pork and slaw, or the Elvis Wich, with peanut butter, bacon, honey, and banana).
But then you need to "work your wich" with choices (all free except avocado) among cheeses, mustards, mayos (choice of four), spreads (hummus, pesto), dressings, onions, veggies, oils, and spices.
Which means you have the bag counter loaded with people leaning over like they’re doing a school test, making decisions, decisions.
Then you take your bag, pay your money, and watch the crew tossing those breads and meats and dressings about like jugglers.
Gal working the laptop on the left turns out to be Maggie Holland.
She and her husband Dennis live in Coronado and got the franchise three years ago. Must be working. They already have three others, in Hillcrest, PB, and Carlsbad, and are opening next in Carmel Mountain. Plus they’re overseeing ops in Orange County.
Which Wich's big question mark has spread like a Texas prairie fire — 150 in Texas, and they're in other states and now California.
“Jeff Sinelli, the guy who started it all, had a mom who always packed her kids’ lunches in brown paper bags and wrote their names and the kind of sandwich on the front. It’s as simple as that,” says Maggie.
“That was what I liked about it," says Dennis. "Clean design, simple system, but lots of choices. Brown bag, customer checking off his own order on the bag. It’s a great system.”
I get one called the Wicked, WW’s signature sandwich, with five meats and three cheeses, plus all those other fixins for Carla...
...and a beef for me.
Really worked the 'wiches. Maybe too much.
“My one complaint?” says Carla. “Too rich. Too much stuff.”
“Can’t blame them. I made the choices,” I say.
Which, when I think of it, is the brilliance of the concept.