It was a tasty sandwich. The pork belly melted in your mouth, the pickled radishes weren’t over powering, and the Kimchi mayonnaise was on point. But to Patty Logan, a bad taste was left in her mouth.
“4,000 dollars for a (expletive) pork sandwich?!” she gasped. “I can’t make that on a creative movement director’s salary!”
Confused, Patty immediately called her waiter back to the table and pointed out what she believed to be an error. To her surprise, the waiter not only told her the amount was correct, but also kindly reminded her that it did not include a tip.
Owner Rob Mortimer did not take the encounter well. “How dare someone question our prices?! They don’t know what we have to go through to make that sandwich. Minimum wages have increased, health insurance has gone up, we now have to offer free wifi which includes Netflix, Hulu, and Prime for free.” He continued, “On top of that, people are sitting on the most ethical furniture ever created. They don’t understand that we’ve rid them of the guilt associated with which seat to choose.”
Mortimer also discussed the changing behavior of the typical customer and what his business has done to adapt. “Today’s customer isn’t like 10 years ago. They are so much more demanding and eager to send food back, which costs a lot of money. So we responded by hiring a full-time lawyer to be present for every order, thus ensuring we were protected and the customer understood the terms. Sure, it increases the cost, but it’s worth the peace of mind knowing we aren’t wasting food.”
Ethical demands have also prompted cost increases. Mortimer personally raises each pig from birth, which he feels is an added value customers are willing to pay for. “Being a working father to our food is hard. Nobody appreciates that. When I have to work late shifts, who is there to watch Lil Porky? Day care for these pigs costs me $20,000 per year each!”
We explained what Mortimer shared about cost increases to Logan. Stunned at her own ignorance, she back-pedaled, signaling signs of guilt. “Gosh, I had no idea. I mean, I have heard it’s wise to hire a lawyer, so that fee makes sense. I guess I never really appreciated how much work goes into that pork. I, too, raise kids and understand the high cost of day care. I guess 4,000 dollars for that meal makes a lot of sense.”
Mortimer took us back into the kitchen to break down the cost of creating their famous pork belly sandwich, which is not only the most expensive of it’s kind, but also the most ethical. The staff he employed was one-of-a-kind.
The restaurant employs a full-time massage therapist to ensure a relaxed, stress-free dough when going into the oven. “The customers can taste if the bread is stressed out, which can make them stressed out, too,” explained Mortimer.
Also employed is a full time structural engineer to run calculations when plating to ensure everything stays in place when it arrives at the table. “The last thing we need is a customer upset that their garlic-infused pickled radishes fell out of the sandwich when taking a bite. It destroyed us on Yelp last month. We’re still recovering.”
All told, the total cost to create Mortimer’s pork belly sandwich came out to $3,994 leaving him with a 6 dollar profit, about the same profit made at the local tavern across the street who sells a similar pork sandwich for about 12 dollars. Mortimer was quick to blame recently enacted minimum wage increases.
“I hope folks know why small restaurants struggle to support minimum wage increases. If minimum wage goes up just a dollar, it trickles through my waiter, chef, busboy, massage therapist, lawyer and structural engineer. It could add 800 dollars more to the cost of this sandwich,” Mortimer explained. “We’ve done everything in our power to keep the costs down, but these regulations are killing us.”
Locals don’t seem to mind the high cost of Mortimer’s sandwiches, in fact, many of them go out of their way to pay the higher cost in an effort to support local businesses. “I know it’s going to hurt me financially, but think of how we’re hurting small business by not paying the full cost for this sandwich. Think of all those people who will lose their job,” said Shirley Devers, a regular at Mortimer’s establishment.
Not everyone was happy with the huge price tag, however. Julia Graves, a local advocate for income inequality, added, “We have people here who can’t afford 4,000 dollars. Where are they going to eat? We certainly can’t have them eating at Taco Bell, which I proudly fought against.”
It remains to be seen whether Mortimer’s new prices are feasible, but for now he’s not worried.
“I’m proud to serve our food at our prices. If people can’t see the value in all that goes into our 4,000 dollar sandwich, then I suggest they go eat a cheap 12 dollar sandwich at some other run-down establishment that treats their pigs like animals, and doesn’t pay fair wages to expensive lawyers,” Mortimer said. “But when they taste the $3,988 difference in the quality. They’ll be back.”