According to a recent report by The New York Post, New Yorkers are experiencing sticker shock over the price of sandwiches. The report highlights ham and cheese sandwiches at Eli Zabar’s E.A.T. on the Upper East Side, which costs $31.57 after tax.
The sandwich, which is actually two sandwiches made from ham, Gruyère cheese, mustard, and four slices of seven-grain “health bread,” has sparked outrage among eaters, with many calling the price ridiculous.
The New York Post reported:
When The Post went to purchase the sandwich on Friday, an employee at the Madison Avenue eatery was so embarrassed by the price, they offered to charge us a mere $22.
They also noted that there was a full soup-and-salad meal deal with a drink for $18 at a Panera nearby.
“The owner makes the prices, we don’t make them,” another employee told The Post.
“Some people complain, but a lot of people who live around here, they know the prices, and they don’t complain because they like it [the food].”
We persisted with the $29 sandwich purchase — and found it to be reminiscent of an airport sandwich.
The bread was moist, but lacked flavor, perhaps from sitting in the refrigerator for too long. The ham and Gruyère were tasty enough, but there was hardly enough meat and cheese.
Zabar’s did not immediately return a request for comment.
The report also notes that the $29 sandwich is part of a larger trend of expensive sandwiches in the city. While grab-and-go spots such as Pret a Manger and Subway offer sandwiches for around $15, specialty shops charge anywhere from $18 and up. The rising prices are part of a larger trend of continuously rising food costs, according to Bill Zafiros, owner of Mediterranean restaurant Ten Hope in Williamsburg.
Restaurant owners told the Post that they’re in a bind when it comes to pricing, due to increases in raw goods and commercial real estate costs. The recent addition of a rent tax means that restaurants with rent over $20,000 a month must pay 6% tax to the city, which ultimately falls on the consumer.
The high prices are leading to New Yorkers getting priced out of eating sandwiches. While some people who live in the area may know the prices and continue to patronize the restaurants, others may not be able to afford the high prices. The report notes that even the employee at the Madison Avenue eatery was embarrassed by the $29 price tag on the sandwich.
New York City was named the most expensive city in the world in the Economist’s 2022 annual Worldwide Cost of Living survey. This, combined with continuously rising food costs, may make it difficult for many New Yorkers to afford even basic meals.