Column: Want to be a big winner at dinner time? Area eateries give you a chance

Erik Helm, Ripon, receives his first free sub from sandwich maker Amanda Preissner after becoming the first member of the Century Club at the Watson Street Sub Shop.

Ripon's Erik Helm likes a good sandwich. So, maybe a couple times a week, he’ll stop in at the Watson Street Sub Shop downtown for a meal.

He’s not one of those guys who eats a Big Mac every day for years on end. He just happens to pick up a sub from time to time.

Erik didn’t pay much attention to it. But the Sub Shop, located at 314 Watson St., did.

And now Erik is the inaugural member of the Century Club — a group that soon will be populated by other Riponites who have purchased 100 or more subs at the downtown eatery.

Interestingly enough, the Sub Shop isn’t the only nearby restaurant that recently marked a culinary milestone.

About six miles to the west, the Boathouse Pub at the Heidel House Resort and Spa also has crowned a winner in an eating feat — but one that involves a much less attainable goal.

Three words: Platter of food.

Clearly, Ripon-area residents and visitors are a hungry bunch.

While the Boathouse's challenge involves getting one person to eat a lot in one sitting, the Sub Shop offers a different spin: to reward the customer who eats loyally at its shop, rather than once in great quantities.

“We’ve looked at ways to recognize the fact that we have a very loyal customer base that tends to repeat their business week after week,” said Scott Wunn, co-owner of the Sub Shop. “That kind of customer loyalty, I feel, is the kind we should compliment and recognize.” ...

“We have a few people nipping at his heels, from in the 80s,” he said ...

While the Sub Shop's approach is to give a T-shirt to someone who dines often at their eatery, the Boathouse Pub has a different take:

Give a T-shirt to someone who eats the most ... in one sitting.

The Boathouse is offering the Belly Buster challenge: if a customer so chooses, he or she can attempt to scarf down one pound of burger as well as one pound of french fries ... all in 30 minutes (or less).

If you do, you too get a T-shirt recognizing the feat.

I’m not going to get into too many specifics here — I do that in a corresponding column I wrote for the Green Laker that will come out next week — but suffice it to say that this challenge is so difficult that only two have accomplished it in the past year since it was created.

... So what will it be for you: eat a little regularly at one Ripon business, or a lot in one sitting in Green Lake? Either way, you’re a winner.

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