Lakeview BYOB Sandwich Me In aims for sustainability

Compostable tray liners, chalkboard menus and more aim to reduce the restaurant's output of waste

  • Pulled pork sandwich with shoestring potato chips at Sandwich Me In
Pulled pork sandwich with shoestring potato chips at Sandwich Me In (Courtesy of Sandwich Me…)
September 28, 2012|By Samantha Nelson, For RedEye

In his 15 years working at restaurants, Justin Vrany saw a lot of waste. “I’ve seen so much garbage go out the doors,” Vrany said. “It bugged me.”

Vrany had always dreamed about opening his own restaurant, but he also wanted it to be sustainable. He achieved both goals at Sandwich Me In (3037 N. Clark St. 773-348-3037), the quick-serve BYOB sandwich spot he opened in Lakeview back in May.

Food is served on trays lined with compostable parchment paper to cut down on the water used washing dishes and all of the fruit and vegetable waste is used to feed chickens at the Wisconsin farm that supplies the eggs for Sandwich Me In’s breakfast sandwiches. About 85 percent of the restaurant’s food is locally sourced and Vrany hopes to have that up to 100 percent by next year.

“If I can show people that change is not as hard as people think, I can slowly open their minds to the concept,” said Vrany, who has worked in the kitchens of local restaurants such as Hot Chocolate and Nick’s Fish Market.

Written on a chalkboard, the menu feature vegan-friendly options such as a portabella mushroom sandwich ($9) topped with bitter greens and spicy red pepper hummus, though carnivores can enjoy the pulled pork ($8), which is smoked for 13 hours and tossed in a house-made barbecue sauce.

While sandwiches are the focus, you can also order the house salad, a blend of greens, cherry tomatoes and crunchy shoestring potato chips tossed in a rosemary vinaigrette. The restaurant also offers food and drink specials that change daily, such as pineapple smoothies or seared squash with roasted banana peppers.

Vrany’s goal is to make Sandwich Me In more than just a place to grab a quick bite by offering free wifi and space for local bands to perform. “It’s kind of a community place to hang out,” he said.

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