We best Megastructure, are beaten by a 2x4x15
The 2x4x15, which tips the scales at approximately just under 2 pounds, really displays its heft when you try to finish it.
The Megastructure, a 1.3-pound toasted sub sandwich with cheese and eight different kinds of meat, has reigned for years as the big food king of Rammy's Sub Contractors in Wheeling.
But this week, the biggest of the improbable sandwiches with construction-site names at Rammy's was bested by a new champion. Mike "Rammy" Hrametz has built an addition onto his Two by Four, a popular 8-inch sub named for contents featuring four meats and two cheeses.
The new sovereign is a nearly 2-pound, 15-inch version that he calls the Two by Four by Fifteen.
"I'm thinking of putting pictures of anybody who can eat one up on the wall," he said.
Don't look for my face there.
Half of a $9.99 2x4x15 is plenty. I could eat the sandwich's innards -- salami, ham, capicola and pepperoni plus two cheese choices from among cheddar, provolone, swiss and pepper jack -- all day. But 15 inches of a nice chewy Turano sub roll is too much nice chewing.
The $7.50 Megastructure is definitely more doable. There's a lot on it -- pepperoni, salami, ham, roast beef, turkey, capicola, Italian beef, bacon and cheese -- but it's only 8 inches long, so it's not the end of the world. And these are tasty meats that play together well, so one big bite naturally chases the last one.
The sub shop is nestled in a large industrial area, and the names of the sandwiches reflect that environment and Hrametz' 14 years working construction.
A meatball sub became the Wrecking Ball. A ham and cheese sandwich is Hammer and Cheese. A roast beef and bacon sub with horseradish sauce is a Sawhorse.
The toasted cheese sandwich is the Lien.
The Lien? "Well, it is pretty lean," Hrametz said.
The sneeze guards at the counter are held up by four 18-inch adjustable wrenches. On the west wall, there's a giant photo of workmen dining while sitting on a suspended girder, and a cartoon of a jackhammer operator on the south wall.
So it's not surprising that the place has the feel of a boys' club, evidenced by the fact that male customers outnumber females almost 3 to 1.
Hrametz has tried to attract more women by selling smaller versions of most of the subs, but it doesn't matter much.
The restaurant at 834 S. Wheeling Road had lines out the door the day it opened in 1998.
"We didn't even have a chance to do any marketing," Hrametz said. "We were too busy making food."
The same thing happened at branches in Elk Grove Village (1022 E. Higgins Road) and in DeKalb, he said.
The largest drink in the place is the 32-ounce $3.99 Big Ass Shake, which means anybody who buys it regularly will find the name reflects their physique.
The Big Ass Shakes have a big ass straw, Hrametz notes. It's almost a half-inch, inside diameter.
Hrametz said a fellow restauranteur told him years ago that he always used narrow straws to make his milkshakes seem thicker.
"I thought that was nuts," said Hrametz, so he bought straws thick as electrical cable, and his goopy milkshakes draw easily. But no matter what kind of straw is used, the Big Ass Shake is a diabetic coma in a cup.
Like almost every Mega Bites destination, the biggest food at Rammy's is probably not the most crave-worthy. That distinction likely goes to Rammy's Radical Italian Beef, with provolone on top and garlic and pesto smeared on the bread.
It's what an Italian beef sandwich wants to be when it grows up.
While still working construction, Hrametz, 42, got a foodservice management degree from Harper College, and did a lot of thinking about his dream sub shop of the future.
One of the things he decided upon was to buy the best meat he could find and charge accordingly, instead of setting a competitive price and looking for ingredients that could resell for the right amount.
So he's never cut the size of the Megastructure to keep the price down, he said, but added two bits to the tab now and then.
Even so, some people pay an extra $3 to make sure they have plenty of protein and fat.
"We have some high school students who order it with double meat, probably just to prove something," he said. "But it's pretty nap-inducing the way it is."