Looking for a tasty sandwich made with high quality meat that just melts in your mouth? Sweet Travels found the place for you! Braised lamb with walnut nettle pesto, cider braised pork with pepper jelly and broccoli rabe, ciambotta style braised vegetables with whipped goat cheese and olive spread. Are you hungry yet? Andy Jacobi and Richard King, Founders of Untamed Sandwiches, are passionate about sustainability and conservation of the environment. Sweet Travels met with Andy to learn more about what makes Untamed unique in the food industry today. Don’t fret if you are not a meat lover, there is plenty to choose from when stopping by Untamed Sandwiches for breakfast or lunch.
How did the idea of Untamed Sandwiches come to fruition? What drove you to leave your job to take on a risky business of opening a restaurant in Manhattan no less in Midtown?
While studying at Columbia for an MBA and working full-time at Wild Idea in 2012, I met a chef, Richard King, who was as passionate about bringing free-range premium meats to market as I was. We took a look at the other companies trying to do the same thing in NYC and we realized there was an opportunity to fulfill our dreams by introducing Untamed Sandwiches. Our value proposition was to offer customers a premium cut of sustainable, 100 % pasture raised meat as a takeout or eat-in experience without the wait, in a casual yet hip setting. Our focus on braised meat and veggie sandwiches allows us to assemble orders within minutes with a product that has been prepared over the course of several days. It took approximately two years to fine-tune our project and we finally opened our doors in January 2014.
We chose Midtown for several reasons. Midtown consists of many high-end restaurants filled with diners on power lunches and expense accounts. You also have many fast food chains throughout the neighborhood but we knew we could attract the type of customer with a refined palette who was looking for a quality lunch but without the wait. We are ideally located near Bryant Park, Bank of America, MetLife, and the New York Public Library. Anyone can grab a lunch to go or sit and enjoy lunch in our shop.
Why not start out offering your sandwiches at food markets, pop-ups or via a food truck versus a brick-n-mortar shop from a cost perspective?
There are a couple of reasons we decided to open a shop right from the start but the primary one is we braise our meat over the course of five days. This requires specialized equipment and a permanent resting place to ensure we do not compromise the quality and consistency of our product. Although we assemble our sandwiches quickly, the process to get our meat cooked to the consistency we expect requires time, so a mobile location would not work for us. Our ingredients are thoughtfully prepared and procured using suppliers who have a similar focus and commitment to the environment.
We have an incredible team of investors and staff who believe in our concept. Our second Untamed Sandwiches is scheduled to open in Dumbo with a 3rd on the way in Midtown East. And we hope to open more shops beyond that.
How do you use social media to help market your business?
Social media is a growing opportunity for us. We are committed to providing our customers with a unique experience. Social media is helping us link to a community of like-minded environmentally focused diners. Social media is a targeted and more effective way of getting the word out for our business.
What is your favorite drink pairing with one of your sandwiches?
Our sandwiches pair really well with beer. Right now we have a really good brown ale from Bells on the menu that I love, as well as an IPA from Stone. We also recently started featuring a canned rose wine called The Drop, started by a friend of mine. All of them were chosen by us because they pair so well with braised meat.
Who has influenced you the most in your career?
David Chang of Momofuku. He is extremely creative in his culinary pursuits and uses his kitchen like a laboratory. I also really like Luke’s Lobster. They have a similar interest in the traceability and sustainability of their food.
What is your favorite dessert?
Our Chef de Cuisine is incredibly talented and he makes the most amazing cookies. A big hit at Untamed is LuLu’s ice cream-cookie push pop. We partnered with il laboratorio del gelato to prepare this dessert. We send them our cookies and they mix the cookies with vanilla gelato to create the ice cream-cookie push pops. Try one and you will see why.
What is your favorite sandwich?
The Frere Jacques…Just love it! We are always experimenting with our menu but there are favorites our customers do not want us to change. We strike a balance by keeping some favorites on the menu while introducing new sandwiches along the way.
How do you handle customer feedback?
We really want to hear from our customers as to what they liked and what they did not like. It is important to be open to feedback and make sure we are offering a consistently high quality product to our customers. We use Tattleapp, an online customer satisfaction survey program, to help us connect with our customers and obtain constructive feedback. If we don’t know, we can’t fix it.
Who eats at Untamed Sandwiches?
We have gained a strong following with repeat business. These customers typically know our product and care about what they are putting into their body. The focus on knowing where your food source comes from (traceable) and being good stewards of the planet is important to us and we work hard everyday to make sure we deliver on our promise.
Untamed Sandwiches is all about building a network of suppliers, consumers, and partners who are passionate about what they eat, where it comes from, and how it is prepared. Our philosophy and commitment also consists of giving back to the community. We donate a percentage of our proceeds to help local charities like City Growers. Stop on by and give us a try.
Photos Courtesy of Andy Jacobi
On a personal note from Moira McCullough….I had the Ol’Grumpy for breakfast. The scrambled eggs with grass-fed beef chili, pimento cheese, and hot jam had the perfect blend of spice and sweetness. Next on my list is the Frere Jacques, Cheddar Jalapeno Grits, and the ice cream-cookie push pop.