Though it shares a name with the Disney series that launched Shia LaBeouf's career, Even Stevens is all about sandwiches. The Salt Lake City-based "craft casual" chain slings everything from Reubens to sloppy Joes with a charitable twist: for every sandwich purchased they donate a sandwich to a local nonprofit.
"We're really the first ones to incorporate that Tom's shoes philosophy—the buy one, give one model—into the industry, so we're really excited about the success we've seen but also the influence we'll be able to have in communities, and hopefully for the industry as a whole," said Even Stevens Creative Director Jamie Coates. "We want to inspire other businesses to incorporate this model because it's been really good for business."
Even Stevens launched 18 months ago and already has four locations in Utah and one in the works in Scottsdale, Ariz. The company also has a sandwich shop planned for Boise, slated to open in spring 2016 at 815 W. Bannock St., near Freak Alley. The Boise branch of Even Stevens will feature local products—like Payette beer, Flying M coffee and Gaston's bread—along with house-roasted pork belly and sustainably caught mahi mahi. In addition to sandwiches, the shop also offers salads and breakfast items like burritos and French toast.
"We base our menu on nostalgic recipes, but with a creative twist or an update," said Coates. "We've got a pot roast dip with a jalapeno jelly on it. We've got our twist on a Cubano, which is the Mihami Vice. We just added our version of a banh mi, the Vietnamese sandwich, which is absolutely delicious and rooted in tradition, but we put pork belly on it."
Even Stevens has teamed up with the Idaho Foodbank, Society of St. Vincent De Paul, Boise Rescue Mission and Corpus Christi House, and will donate sandwich ingredients to them each month.
Nonprofit partners can order ingredients directly, a truck then delivers the products to their doorstep and volunteers help assemble the sandwiches.
"We're just giving them everything they need to make a nutritious sandwich and ultimately helping them save money on food," said Coates. "We're seeing in almost all cases our nonprofits reallocate funds to other things."
Since Even Stevens opened its first restaurant in June 2014, the company has donated more than 180,000 sandwiches to Salt Lake nonprofits. They hope to grow the concept nationwide.
"We want to go as far as possible. We've seen the effect that our concept has had on the communities with our give-back," said Coates. "If every store can do 100,000 sandwiches a year, as far as donating, we feel like we have a responsibility to grow as much as we can and bring it to every market. Every market has needs. One in five Americans are food insecure and to us that's unacceptable."
Meanwhile in brews news, Crooked Fence Brewery recently relocated its brewing operation from Garden City to its Crooked Flats compound in Eagle. The change made way for Meriwether Cider to move into Crooked Flats' old building (5242 Chinden Blvd.).
"This is great news for us because the space is bigger and better suited for larger scale production than the space we are currently in," Meriwether wrote in a newsletter. "We hope to start resurfacing the cement floors in the production area in the next few weeks, then move all our fermentation tanks to their new home."
Meriwether plans to complete the moving and renovation process by mid-January or early February and will open its taproom after that.
In other booze news, the Idaho State Liquor Division is in the process of wrapping up its annual Pappy Van Winkle lottery. The popular Kentucky bourbon has an extremely limited production, which has helped create a cult following among whiskey enthusiasts. This year, Idaho was only allotted 300 bottles of Pappy, which included 18 bottles of the prized 23-year.
"The numbers are just unbelievable," said Mary Botts, of the Idaho State Liquor Division. "We had 3,054 people requesting Pappy and out of that we have 300 bottles to give them."
Throughout the year, Pappy enthusiasts can enter their info and rank their age preference—Old Rip Van Winkle (10-year), Van Winkle Special Reserve (12-year) or Pappy Van Winkle (15-, 20- or 23-year)—through the ISLD website. In December, the list of entrants is scrubbed for duplicates, winners are selected via lottery and bottles are distributed to stores across the state for Pappy seekers to purchase—prices range from $34 to $250.
Pappy Van Winkle only ships once a year and, in 2014, the company released just 7,500 cases nationwide. This scarcity has inspired a number of creative solutions, including Idaho's lottery.
"Last year was the first year we did the lottery and people kind of griped about it, but it was like, 'How else can we do it to make it fair?' We came to the point where there was just no choice," said Botts.
The 2016 Idaho Pappy lottery is currently open for applicants at mixblendenjoy.com. The website also features suggestions for other high-end bourbons, like Jim Beam Distillers Masterpiece, in the likely event that your name doesn't get picked.
"For our unhappy Pappy seekers, we've really been trying to pull bourbons that are comparable so that people who don't win the Pappy can actually come in and buy something else," said Botts.