Even Stevens Sandwiches: Serving Up Sustainability
If you’re one of those few that claim to dislike sandwiches, you naturally fall into the small group of people that I don’t trust. I mean, who can honestly say that they dislike all sandwiches? Liars, actually, that’s who.
If you live near the downtown area, there’s a good chance you’ve recently done a double take while driving by the 7-11 on 200 south, thinking, “What a minute, is Even Stevens a restaurant?”. Considering it’s sitting next to “Processed Snacktown, USA”, I ceased to consider the possibility of it being remotely healthy or especially local. Boy, was I wrong.
I met the Creative Director for Even Stevens, Jamie Coates, at the Green City Festival while she was catering to the bands. I found myself, once again, doing a double take as I glanced at the poster on her table. Hold up, sister. You guys donate sandwiches? You guys are local? Vegetarian option? Man, I felt like a pretentious asshole as I erased my misconceptions of this newborn sandwich shop.
Even Stevens is directly located at 200 South 414 East in Downtown, Salt Lake City. As a sandwich shop, these guys have put in the effort to not only make A+ sandwiches, but to also bring about sustainable support for local non-profits. They donate money every month, allowing for these organizations to feed their clients.
This week I was able to sit down with Jamie over some coffee at the shop. I talked with her about the whole donation process, their fabulous food, and their plans for the future.
Ugly Magazine: So, the owner and founder of the shop is Steve Down. How’d the idea of Even Stevens come about?
Jamie Coates: The idea for Even Stevens was his darling child. The shop was just born out of his own creativity.
It’s the perfect storm for this kind of concept. We know that hunger is a social problem. Not just overseas, but right here in America. So many Americans are “food insecure,” meaning they don’t know where their next meal will come from. The problem is not enough food, but issues in the system to provide people with access to nutritious food.
UM: We hear about a lot of charities that claim to give something away when you buy their product. The issue is that we are never really sure exactly how that happens. How can we, as a community, be sure with Even Stevens? What’s the process?
JC: You’re totally right. We are actually donating sandwiches to the non-profits and allowing them to feed their clients. We saw an opportunity to support already established and existing structures in the community. Our ultimate goal is to not be a non-profit, but to support them. We do what we do best, which is making delicious food. Our non-profit partnerships do what they do best, which is solving some of the most difficult pressing issues facing our community.
By us donating sandwiches, the companies are able to reallocate funds that they would spend on food, back into their programs.
The four non-profits they work with are VOA Homeless Youth Outreach, Rescue Mission of Salt Lake, The Good Samaritan Program, and YWCA of Salt Lake City.
UM: How exactly do you guys donate the sandwiches?
JC: At the end of every month, we tally our sales. Our non-profit partners now have their own US Foods account where they can order sandwich-making ingredients as they need. It’s easier for them because they can order brand new product on their own terms. It’s good, nutritious product like sprouted wheat bread and all natural cheeses.
Those funds on that account are directly related to the sales at our shop. We’ve done the math and we do keep track. It really is a sandwich for a sandwich.
UM: Does Even Stevens plan on expanding?
JC: Yes, absolutely. The cool thing about this concept is that you can take it anywhere and it will flourish. Every major city has these needs. There’s no reason to be set up like a chain restaurant, and that’s another great thing around our concept. We don’t ever want to be a corporate stranger. Also, incorporating local products, as we expand, helps to make every store different.
UM: You mentioned giving local support, in what ways are you doing that?
JC: Right now we offer craft beer-pairing with all sandwiches, we have Beehive cheese for our grilled cheese sandwich, we use Rimini coffee, and we also use Stoneground bread for some of our recipes.
Naturally, we also want to support our local artists. We want the community to have a stake in the way our environment looks, the message we send to our customers, and give everyone a chance to be a part of Even Stevens.
We have live music every Thursday night from 7pm-9pm. We really want to bring people in to see emerging local artists. We also have a showcase, every other month, where we invite anyone who makes sound to come play for fifteen minutes. They get a 15$ food and drink ticket and they get put into our poll for those Thursday night, PAID shows.
UM: What is your favorite sandwich at the shop?
JC: My favorite sandwich, by far, is the Do Gouda. I can’t get away from it. It’s our smoked Gouda, amazing roast beef, and sweet onion marmalade. It just coalesces into this mass of culinary heaven. (Laughing)
UM: Is Even Stevens vegetarian/vegan friendly?
JC: Absolutely. I also guarantee we are one of the only places in town serving a vegan sloppy joe. We call it the “Sloppy Tina.” It is made out of mushrooms, garbanzo beans, and our original slop sauce. It’s not made from fake meat, just vegetables.
We also have our Capreezy that is vegetarian, along with our grilled cheese. We have Gluten-free options as well.
(While I was at the shop, I decided to give it a try and ordered the so-called "Sloppy Tina". Let's just put it this way, after tasting that vegan-mess-from-heaven, If there's anything wrong with being sloppy, I don't want to be right.)
This definitely is a group of talented do-gooders with a successful business plan and they seem born to put things in bread and drizzle it with love, making some of the best sandwiches in the city. Even Stevens' has healthy food, great prices, are locally supportive, and have created a great environment. All of this while working towards ending hunger. Like, who are these guys anyways?
(Also, hint, hint, young lads and party goers, Even Stevens does free coffee for STUDENTS all day long. I think the words you're looking for are "Thank you.")
If you haven't had a chance to check them out, it's about time you did. After learning more, I'm so pleased to know something like this has finally landed in Salt Lake City.