Friday, October 05, 2012

$9 dusty bun

has dusty buns gone too far?

am i about to commit fresno suicide?

hopefully, the answer to both of those questions is no.  but let's discuss at least the first of those questions.

let's get a few things out of the way before i go too far.  i have been a dusty buns apologist.  i took a bit of time to try the sandwiches, mainly because the line was always long at the bus, and i hated standing in the sun on some of those hot days.  but once i tried the eggman is was in.  i tried le grilled, and i loved it, too.  soups, yep.  granola, definitely.  (i've never had the veg out.)  i know and appreciate that their product is locally sourced, handmade and very good tasting.  these things matter to me.

about 10 days ago i was defending dusty buns with a few friends on facebook. one had the dusty bun for the first time and wasn't completely sold.  he said it was good, but not great.  the other friend had never had any of their food, mainly because she felt that the lines were too long, the sandwiches too small and too expensive (@ $7).  also, she said that, and i'm paraphrasing here, this is fresno, and they're trying to charge bay area prices and should get over themselves.  i can't argue too much with the first friend.  he tried it, thought it was okay but had some reservations.  totally fine, we all have our owns tastes.  the second friend i really argued with, as much as i'm willing to via facebook, that the sandwiches are very filling, and that frequently i eat one of the sandwiches and about 1/2 my order of fries and i'm very full.  the food is very high quality and is local.  i'm not sure if it's all organic, but many of their ingredients are organic - for those that this matters to.  the chicken, duck, peanut butter, everything, all come from farms in the area and are seasonal. and, they make their own bread.  all of this will cause the product to be a little more expensive than a product from a bigger chain, or from a local place that is buying their foodstuffs from a bigger market or a distributor like sysco.  and, in our current economy, everything is more expensive.  a point that i made to both was that a sandwich at lunch or dinner at most places will run you about the same.  i'll stand by all that.  if i go to dinner at a sit down place, a burger is generally $9-$10 and something like a steak sandwch easily runs $14.  but, i also have to admit that i had a bit of sticker shock last time i ate there at the dusty buns shop when i saw that the sandwiches had gone up to $9.  that night i had the duck confit slider, so it was only $5, and i thought the food was very good, was full from my meal, but it got me thinking.

cut to this last wednesday, a friend asked me if i was still going to dusty buns.  i said yes, but i hadn't been in a few weeks.  i mean, it's not like i went every week, anyway.  i probably hit them up about every 4-6 weeks, so i'm not surprised that i hadn't been in a few weeks.  i asked why, and he mentioned the increase in price.  he and his lady would go a bit more often, and they were both feeling like they couldn't afford to go their regularly.  he felt that dusty buns may be pricing themselves out of customers, or at least pushing into less than regular customers.

cut to today when i went over to the manchester marketplace for lunch with a few friends.  i was hoping that summertime pies would be there, but they weren't.  i knew there would still be some good options for lunch though, so i was alright.  there were two of your regular fresno taco trucks, dusty buns, and tako bbq.  i had seen that dusty buns was doing a lula burger special, and so was thinking that, but then decided i wanted a spicy pork burrito from tako.  i jump in line, and i bump into fresno bites. first and foremost, we joke about harmswaychad from that social media blog.  we're all in a blogger fantasy football league, and it's chad's first year so we're giving him plenty of grief.  but then, we move on to the $9 sandwich that we're not standing in line for.  we're both getting tako.  we talk about the price point, some other small talk, and by then we were at the front of the line.  he ordered the torta ($6 and a taco - $2). i ordered a burrito ($6) and a taco.  now, i'm not reviewing those here, but i had the burrito, taco and a soda (mexican coke in a glass bottle) for $10.  i sat with two friends that ordered a veg out and a dusty bun.  we all enjoyed our meals.  fresno bites was down the table, and when we were all about done, he says to me, "ed, $6 for all this torta.  it's not a hand made bun, but it's good." or something like that.  i nodded as i worked at the last few bites of my burrito.  (on a side note, i've seen people rant about places like dusty buns or tako for charging $2-$3 for a taco compared to the taco trucks where you can get 2 tacos for like $1.50 or $2, but maybe that's another discussion.  maybe.)  as i sat there, i looked again at the menu for dusty buns.  $9 for a sandwich.  $4 for sides.  $2 for a tea (12 oz.).  if i ordered a sandwich, fries and a drink, i would've been out an additional $5.

is it worth it?  i think it's still a great sandwich.  i love le grilled cheese, and when i think about it and ask them to make it an eggman, wowza.  i know that they're doing quality product.  i stand behind the idea that a quality product requires an appropriate price.  also, i've never made one of these, don't know what the cost is.  i don't know what their overhead is.  i admit all of these things because i imagine that they go into their pricing.  but things are only worth what the market will bear.  or, as my dad used to tell me, they're only worth what you're willing to pay for it, no matter what they're selling it for.  so, what do you think?  is it too much?  has dusty buns gone too far with the $9 sandwich?

UPDATE - after i wrote this blog, dusty buns switched things up a bit.  now, they do a slightly smaller sized sandwich for $5, 2 for $9.  it's a really good deal.  we went there not too long ago and i had a sandwich & soup, and it was quite a filling meal.


brodiemash said...

If you hate Fresno so much, why don't you leave? :)

I wish I could afford every Apple product but I can't, so I pick and choose.

Look, in my book, Le Grilled Cheese is unfukwitable when it comes down to any item sold by gourmet food trucks in Fresno so far. That being said, it's been about over 6 months since I've had one because of the prices. If the price of that has indeed risen to $9, then I'll definitely wait longer to go back but I will return because it's still a quality product that, if I could afford it, I'd be there way more often. Now excuse me as I listen to music on my iPhone.

Carrie said...

I like Dusty Buns way better than Tako, first off. Second, I think $9 is a lot for a sandwich, but that is one very good sandwich (Le grilled). $9 is more than I want to spend on it, but it won't keep me from going back and spending that. And size-wise, I don't think it's too small at all. I wouldn't want it to be any bigger. Just cost less :-)

I don't mind paying "bay area prices" if the food is "bay area good". We need more independently owned and operated businesses in Fresno that source local food and prepare it for their customers in delicious and interesting ways. If they were pretentious about their product I might be inclined to tell them to get over themselves too, but they are not. They embrace the produce mecca that is the central valley and serve up something that is different and tasty and not mass produced or overly processed. I would love to see more businesses in town like DB thriving and will continue to support them with my dollars.

Adam said...

Nine dollars plus whatever extras is a lot for me. That's a splurge dinner because it's going to run me $30-$40 to buy dinner for me and Carrie at Dusty Buns.

So, yeah I don't eat there often but I don't necessarily eat there any less because their prices went up.

If Dusty Buns is operating on the mindset that they have faithful customers who may not eat there three times a week but will always go back at some point and will always tell their friends that it's delicious, I think they'll be safe.

edluv said...

thanks everybody. i think i feel similarly to the three of you. i mean, i will go back, for sure. but, i admit that sometimes i think, do i want to pay that much for lunch? it's funny, same prices, same food, separate them by a few hours and i feel better about it.

Strangevisitor said...

I think we covered this but it's nice to contribute ta a rare rational internet discussion. =)

The sandwich was good but not 9 dollars good. I know you pointed out that Liz and I go out to eat a lot and you are right. We are career minded with no kids so we often opt for the no cooking solution. However a $9 sandwich for a lunch option, with no beverage is a little decadent. Even if the sandwich was Godlike. I can appreciate the local business and all that but there are many other local options that are more reasonably priced. I think Adam said it correctly when he wrote about the loyal customer base. If you look on social media, Dusty Buns has some hardcore loyal fans so I think as long as they have that they will be fine. I'll take the $4 Vietnamese sandwich from Pho 75 #2.

cofuzz said...

Those are up to $4?

fresnobites said...

Haha I can't believe I just now read this. I've got to be more careful next time now that I'm being quoted. I came across this while writing my latest post. Great perspective and dialogue. Ultimately the consumer pays what they're willing to pay. If the food really is that great they shouldn't have a problem when less than $15. It's not Taco Bell afterall.