Maybe they heard about the free cookies and discounts for government employees? President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden walked from the White House to the Taylor Gourmet at 17th and Pennsylvania Ave. NW this afternoon.

According to the hoagie chain, Obama ordered a six-inch Race Street sandwich with roasted turkey, prosciutto, pesto, and mozzarella. Biden opted for the six-inch 9th Street Italian with Genoa salami, capicola, prosciutto, and sharp provolone. Both got their sandwiches on wheat bread. With a bottle of water, a Pellegrino, and two cookies, the bill came to $21.56. Obama gave the cashier $40 in cash and said to keep the change.

Co-owner Casey Patten says he was in a meeting with his architect when he got a call letting him know about the visitors. He says all the staff got pictures, and the outing turned into an impromptu press conference with the press corps in tow.

“Everybody said it was absolutely amazing,” Patten says. “Everyone in the restaurant was cheering when they came in.”

The president and VP paid full price, even though the restaurant is offering free cookies and a 10 percent discount to government employees throughout the shutdown. The hoagie shop has also been advertising free career counseling as part of the deal. “I’m not sure if anyone tried to give them career counseling or not. We’ve been doing that a lot this week,” Patten says.

This isn’t the first time Obama has visited Taylor Gourmet. He stopped by the 14th Street NW location last May for a roundtable on small businesses. That time, he ordered the Spruce Street hoagie.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery