SARASOTA, Fla. -- Publix reaffirmed its position as a leader in deli sandwich programs, when a recent visit by SN to its Sarasota's Palmer Ranch store revealed a huge sandwich counter, sit-down seating, extraordinary variety and a not-to-be-missed destination location that faces shoppers squarely the minute they make a right turn at the supermarket's entrance area.
ents, and a request for "no substitutions." However, choices were not limited to ingredients offered on signage; the deli will make any type of sandwich.
The sandwich counter -- behind which three different employees assisted SN -- consisted of three 3-foot long, self-serve cases. One case held tabouli salad, Cuban sandwiches and cheese cake. A second housed mixed fruit, more Cuban sandwiches and coleslaw, baked beans and macaroni and potato salads. And a third offered containers of cubed watermelon and iced tea in small and gallon sizes.
The 6-inch Cuban sandwiches at $2.99 -- a roast pork, ham, salami and pickle combo -- were the only sandwiches not custom-made, but could be heated upon customer request.
Associates work from a multi-well table full of sandwich fixin's like lettuce, tomato, red onion, olives, sliced pickles, and jalapeno and banana peppers. Among the seasonings were mayonnaise, oil, vinegar, yellow and brown mustards, oregano and salt.
Along the aisle toward the cashier are more self-serve cases containing beverages, and an assortment of chips and sodas. A potato chip stand occupies the area preceding the aisle. Adjacent to this aisle is a sit-down eating area for about 40 people.
The rest of the non-sandwich deli section is dedicated to hot chicken and other hot and prepared foods, cheese and salads.
Signage was abundant, and many promoted subs. On the same massive signboard that displayed the words "Custom Subs and Sandwiches" were oval-shaped signs with writing resembling colored chalk on a blackboard. These said, "Did you know that our subs are baked fresh?" illustrated with the picture of a mama bear as a baker of rolls; "Save -- Ask for a combo"; "Did you know?"; and "Deli subs made fresh while you watch with the fixin's you choose."
The display also included an image of an alligator -- the University of Florida's mascot -- smiling and holding a sub.
A retirement community, Sarasota has one of the highest per-capita incomes in Florida. Palmer Ranch is an upscale development catering to an affluent community.