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How Does Subway Stay in Business?

I went to Subway today for a quick bite expecting nothing specatacular. So I order a 6 inch Roasted Turkey Sub with Swiss chesse. The guy working there then proceeds to place just two round slices of turkey (at about 4 inches in diameter) and two half slices of Swiss (cut into triangles) onto a roll and asks me "anything else?" What the?
How do they stay in business?

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  1. That's exactly how they stay in business ~ quanitity control! I presume when people drop by Subway's it's for a quick, "healthy" bite. [i]Personally[/i] don't like their dry bread even with the variations of loaves ya get to choose from. On rare occasions that I've eaten there (either with a coupon or some sort of sub deal) their toppings are pretty fresh and that's about it. Once I tried their steak sub w/c was better than I thought it would be. I'm not sure if all franchises serve the same amount of ingredients but most likely they do.
    I was wondering the same thing about a Quizno's that opened up here last year. I ordered their combo with a soup and when I got home it was only filled up 60% to the top. I checked the bag to see if any soup had spilled over but the plastic bag was bone dry.
    Now a days if I buy a submarine it's the ones I order in from restaurants and not some skimpy sub coming out of a "toaster oven",

    3 Replies
    1. re: Yummy Stuff

      I remember reading an article about the Quizno's in my area having trouble staying in business- much more so than Subway. I worked at one place that was adjacent to a subway and a grocery store that served superior sandwiches, but it always took much longer to get through the line at the grocery store so I think a lot of people ended up opting for Subway instead just to save time.

      1. re: queencru

        The few times I ate at Quiznos I thought the prices were expensive compared to Subway (back in the early 2000s).

        1. re: melpy

          quiznos is more expensive, significantly, and the portions seem smaller to me, or maybe im imagining insult added to injury.

    2. Yummy hit it. I noticed them weighing every ingredient of my sandwich except the bread. Final result was almost like the ingredients had been printed onto the bread, which was not very good. The ingredients were fine, and no doubt exactly the correct weight. I think they have an "extra ingredient" option now, probably a way of raising the real price of a decent sandwich while offering the base sandwich at a ridiculously low cost. After all, bread is cheap - deli meats are not.

      I wondered whether I should post this, since with current technology, they probably can print flavored edible inks onto the bread and cut the meat, lettuce, tomato altogether - and now I've given them the idea if they didn't already have it.

      The really strange thing isn't how they stay in business - it's how they're expanding rapidly. Are they busy at lunch time? They do advertise a lot on TV - this seems to draw people to lousy fast food better than anything.

      7 Replies
      1. re: salutlemonde

        Part of the reason why Subway expands like crazy because they promote franchising like nobody's business - literally. Look on their napkins. If you ever look into franchising expos or mags, Subway is everywhere. Also I think there is an ethnic component to it, at least in LA. It seems that most Subways are owned and operated by South Asians. The familiarity with this particular franchise and franchising in general amongst this ethnic community seems to have become a part of their business culture.

        1. re: bulavinaka

          subway is the cheapest franchise to open and operate; often the reason it is the choice of large immigrant families of every nationality, trying to get into business for themselves. it's marketed to them as a safer bet than trying to establish their own ethnic restaurants. subway sucks the life out of a neighborhood like nobody's business.

          1. re: soupkitten

            Yup - again, it's all about being pragmatic. Many immigrants don't worry about "ooh - I'm going to open my own restaurant and make the best fill-in-the-blanks. They want something that is secure, safe, and something that they will hopefully be able to eventually use as collateral to grab another franchise. It's done alot in LA, as I am sure it is done alot elsewhere...

            1. re: soupkitten

              subway is the cheapest franchise to open and operate

              so true my boyfriend is always talking about doing this. Our town has currently 3 subways and 1 quiznos. We used to have 4 subways. No more than a few miles between each one.

          2. re: salutlemonde

            The few times I eat at Subway, I order to vegetarian---just "cheese," lettuce, tomatoe, black olives, SP and vinegar. Its frustrating, for as much as they charge for this, they will only place 5 olives on the sandwich!

            1. re: Moonpie

              This is why I can't stand going there any more. Their veggie sandwiches aren't much cheaper than ones with meat, yet on a six-inch you get three pickle slices and 4 olives pieces?

              1. re: mollyomormon

                Hm, I've often asked workers at various Subways to add more olives/pickles/jalapenos and they'll do it w/o charging extra.

          3. Not defending Subway here, but why is it many Americans think that every sandwich should be overstuffed?

            Subway has always had portion control on meats and cheese while using the wide variety of veggie toppings to market health and individuality. I'd think the reasoned argument with Subway would be more about the relative tastelessness of their meats and cheeses than the amounts used.

            In Italy much of what you'll encounter in panini shops is simply one or two slices of a meat and maybe some cheese and/or vegetable. That's it. It's rare there are more than three ingredients on a panini. It's much the same throughout continental Europe. Unless you go to Subway, of course.

            A point could be made that if you truly have quality ingredients, you would logically let them shine in harmony instead of overkill on any one ingredient or burying them with other stuff. As Subway - and for that matter, virtually every other sandwich chain in existence - uses inferior ingredients, they have to sell the other stuff. So load up on the cukes and banana peppers - that's the whole point of eating there!

            16 Replies
            1. re: Panini Guy

              For me, it's more a matter of the ratio between bread and fillings. A panino works with less fillings because the bread is thinner, almost just a crust.

              1. re: salutlemonde

                Exactly how I feel. The ratio is what matters. I used to buy pre-made sandwiches at a supermarket deli for lunch, Throw away half the bread, and make a fat half-sandwich.

              2. re: Panini Guy

                Which is exactly why I prefer Potbelly sandwiches: smaller sub, better ingredients, lower pricetag. And none of that wierd Subway odor either.

                1. re: monkeyrotica

                  Exactly why I prefer Potbelly as well! I seriously hate Subway!!

                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                    lol--"subway odor"! There's one next to my bank, and the odor hits mme every time I walk by. gross! how can people eat there?

                    1. re: toodie jane

                      There's one next door to my bank and when you walk in the bank, the odor hits you like a bomb. A stink bomb. I feel sorry for the people that work there.

                    2. re: monkeyrotica

                      I HATE the Subway odor...everything smells like yellow onions (which wouldn't be my personal choice for a sandwich) even if you don't order them!

                      1. re: melpy

                        I asked the same question about Starbucks...but I guess it's all in the marketing. I can't believe that Subway survies in Chicago, Boston or NY..all places with good Deli's. In Seattle we have a few Vietnamese bakery/restaurants that serve what is called "Banh Mi." It's a kind of Vietnames sub sandwich with a really good baguette and fresh ingredients..and they are inexpensive...

                        1. re: cshean

                          "I can't believe that Subway survies in Chicago, Boston or NY.."

                          I am just as incredulous when I see Domino's and PIzza Hut somehow staying in business in NYC.

                          As for Subway,they seem to be very popular with lunchtime crowds who can't turn down the $5 footlongs. Bland bread, meager toppings, and flimsy meat can be consumed for the right price I suppose.

                          1. re: globocity

                            The bread might be bland and the meat flimsy, but the toppings in no way can be described as meager.

                    3. re: Panini Guy

                      I don't mind not having a lot of meat or cheese on a sandwich, but my local subway skimps on the veggies quite a bit, too. that bread is just too big and too dry without a lot of veggies. i was bummed when they switched to the big bread a few years ago; the old small bread was a better match for the amount of stuff they put on a sandwich.

                      my theory is that subway stays in business by being unoffensive; its not that anyone particularly likes it, but very few people hate it, making it a sort of "default" when shopping around for lunch. the one near my office has a line out the door every day.

                      1. re: Panini Guy

                        It's like the Woody Allen quote "The food here is aweful...and such small portions!"

                        1. re: Panini Guy

                          In Europe your 'sandwiches' tend to have very little meat. But oh, what tasty and flavorful smoked meats you get, not the bland "pressed loaf" of Subway

                          In Germany before a plane ride I pointed to the "sandwichen" at a bakery. Smallish crusty hard bread, 1 thin slice of highly smoked salami, butter, 1 thin lettuce, and a thin slice of hardboiled egg. Delicious! I think it only cost 1 EUR as well.

                          1. re: JugglerDave

                            A real Italian porchetta sandwich doesn't have that much meat, but the meat that is there is amazing. And the bread as well. But we're talking about real meats cured and prepared by real people, not injection-molded flavorless food "product."

                            I don't think anyone would mind Subway skimping on the meats if the meats actually tasted like... well.... ANYTHING. If you can't have quality, at least maybe some quantity?

                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                              monkeyerotica and JugglerDave hit it on the head. Most Americans equate big flavor with more "stuff" while other cultures understand big flavors doesn't necessarily mean big ole lumps o' ingredients. Which kind of hits at the root of all this American gluttony/big servings.

                            2. re: JugglerDave

                              German bakery sandwiches are soooo goood!

                          2. It sounds like you got shorted. They don't exactly load their sandwiches, but they have a standard amount of lunchmeat they are to use and two pieces is not it. As far as the others who complain of too few toppings, all you have to do is ask for more and they ar accomodating almost always. I personally more often have issues with things being overdressed so I appreciate when they don't immediately assume I want the typical American overstuffed sandwich.

                            1. I wonder how all the chain sandwich places stay in business(subway, quiznos, potbellys, etc). They are all pretty bad. If I want a sandwich I go to a local deli.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: swsidejim

                                Being a local deli is no guarantee of quality, any more than being a chain is a guarantee of consistency. In some places, a chain is the only options, so we all need our own checklist of suckitude to determine which chain sucks the least and what you're willing to put up with.

                                If I REALLY want a sandwich, I make it myself. And if I do a particularly good job, I leave myself a generous tip.

                                1. re: monkeyrotica

                                  I guess living in the Chicago area I am lucky to have dozens of good local mom & pop delis to choose from that are better than anything I had at a chain shop before I gave up on them.

                                  Typically if I want a good deli sandwich while sitting home watching a game on t.v., I plan ahead, and go to an Italian market, and have them slice up the meats and cheeses for me to make my own sandwich at home

                                  1. re: swsidejim

                                    Actually that is true SWSideJim - I have a nearby NY Deli (in Phoenix!) that rocks any sub that Subway could kick out. Much cheaper, tastier. I do agree tho that if you can't find a local deli when on the road, Subway is there and I treat it as an "What oh what would I want in my sandwich" ordeal. I cannot finish a 6" so I need to consider leftovers.

                                  2. re: monkeyrotica

                                    I second that. I used to work at Von's in my teen years. The deli next door used to come in and stock up on the "Slim Price" generic white bread. Eeee-gaaads!

                                2. I live in a very small, English town. Subway opened here about two years ago - on the main street and they do a huge business. Being an American, I decided to try it one day - just to compare sandwiches here vs there. The bread wasn't as tasty but the choices are pretty interesting - thai chili chicken etc. Portions here are usually smaller so no one thinks twice about the size of the meal. There are a lot of business people working in this town and it's a quick, fast and healthy lunch - and cheaper than most other spots in town despite an average sandwich costing about $6.00. Yes, $6.00. You in the States have it so good. :-)

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: zuriga1

                                    Hi zuriga

                                    Subway is clearly undertaking a major "attack" on the UK market. Two branches have opened in the suburbs near me (north west England). They don't seem to be doing that well - but I think the intent is drive out of business the existing sandwich outlets. I occasionally eat in the branch in our town centre and find it less satisfactory than when I've eaten there on trips to the US. If it was not for the chili, the sandwiches would be pretty tasteless - obviously even lower quality product is being used than in the US. My teenage nephew went to his nearby branch at first but has now stopped - poor quality sandwiches and high prices. I foresee a cut back in branches in due course.

                                    You'll have gathered I'm not a great fan of Subway on either side of the pond. Give me a small family-run sandwich shop any day.


                                    1. re: zuriga1

                                      I have to admit that when I lived in Japan, going to Subway was kind of exciting. I didn't have one in my city, but the lunch meat choices in the grocery store were limited to ham and sometimes pastrami, so Subway was the only place I could get meats that weren't those two varieties.

                                      1. re: queencru

                                        Yeah, it's the same here in Beijing. I am really sorry to admit this but these days Subway is almost a special occasion food for me. The only cold cuts you can buy in the store are processed ham and expensive imported charcuterie from Europe. Sometimes you wake up and just crave a boring turkey sandwich with mayo and mustard, you know? And Subway can be counted on to deliver the boring, that's for sure.

                                    2. I have no problems with the quantity of meat/fillings in a Subway sandwich.

                                      My gripe with Subway is that their sandwiches don't taste like normal sandwiches. It's not that their sandwiches necessarily taste bad (although some certainly do), but they just don't taste like sandwiches. Oh, and did I say they don't taste like sandwiches???

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        It's kinda fascinating how, regardless of what sandwich you order at Subway, they all taste alike. When I first noticed this phenomena, I was afraid I'd had a stroke and somehow burned out the flavor centers of my brain. Then I read that stroke victims usually taste copper when they're stroking out and these sandwiches didn't taste like copper. The didn't taste like anything. It's a sort of "negative flavor" that draws taste OUT of your mouth like a black hole that nothing, not even light or flavor, can escape.

                                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                                          That's a great point that I forgot to mention.

                                          All their sandwiches do taste eerily alike for some odd reason (at least the cold ones anyway).

                                      2. How does Subway stay in business?? Easy. Overpromise & underdeliver. Here's a prime example in regards to their supposed 3 foot subs:


                                        1. I think it's because many Americans feel they are getting a quality sandwich in the same way that they think they will get a quality hamburger at McDonalds.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: hotteacher1976

                                            Subway (and especially McDonald's) maintains a brisk overseas business and attributing their success to America's inability to appreciate 'quality' is thick.

                                          2. Along similar lines, I used to patronize a Blimpie's near work every so often. The same staff members used to serve a decent sandwich for the price under the watchful eye of the owner. One day I went in and noticed a new owner and completely different staff. They proceeded to serve the absolute minimal amount of paper thin toppings possible that still could be called a sandwich. I never returned.

                                            2 Replies
                                              1. re: salutlemonde

                                                This was several years ago and the place is still in business although I don't know if the same people are there since I've never been back. Coincidentally, a Subway opened up even closer to my office which I have been to several times when needing a quick bite. It's ok in a pinch but nothing like a really good deli sandwich.

                                            1. BECAUSE THEY ROCK! They do it day in and day out. I don't know how they could go wrong. They cut everything daily and everything is just so fresh! Consistency is hard to find and one place to find it is Subway.

                                              23 Replies
                                              1. re: scout909

                                                What is (in your opinion) their "ROCK[ingest]" sandwich? I'd like to give it a try. I didn't want to suggest that what I had was bad but that it was just not really present. It was like eating a lettuce sandwich (which is cool if lettuce sandwiches are your thing). And to be fair I've had worse bread by the way. It's just that I could understand two slices of meat and one slice of cheese on a sandwich if the meat and cheese were incredibly flavorful but this was not.

                                                1. re: scout909

                                                  what exactly does Subway cut fresh each day? I know its not the meat, and I doubt it is many of the veggies.

                                                  The places that I go have a row of meat slicers, and the people you order the sandwich from slice the meat to order for your sandwich.

                                                  1. re: scout909

                                                    "Because they rock........." Lets analyze this...scout909.

                                                    "They do it day in and day out"--yes they do; daily they serve subpar skimpy tasteless consumables.

                                                    "They cut everything daily and everything is just so fresh..."-- Uhhh, NO. They unwrap pre-sliced meat that was packaged in containers and dropped off to them, same with their veggies. They have one right inside of the Academy where I work and the employees themselves admitted it to me

                                                    "Consistency is hard to find..."--While that statement is absolutely true.....if they would stay away from the smaller quality 'mom and pop' deli's, then maybe they could stay in business long enough to be consistent."

                                                    Where I live, we have this place called "Brown Bag Deli" and the sandwiches/subs there are top notch in quality and quantity. The place isn't much to look at, the furniture is old and just looking at the place makes you not want to enter----BUT the sandwiches, their products, are the best in El Paso.

                                                    As for Quiznos, I enjoy the quality of their products better than Subway, but I will take Brown Bag Deli over either any day.

                                                    1. re: Bon3Shak3r

                                                      Just a note: I worked at Subway as a teen and the only prepackaged item was the lettuce. Everything else was sliced daily.

                                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                        I wonder if your time at Subway might have been when they were still relatively small. Almost all of the proteins seem to be pre-portioned in small bags or on paper sheets now - they look very institutional. I used to eat there often when they first appeared in LA (back in the early-90s, I think). I stopped eating there regularly when all of the meat started to taste suspiciously similar. I do still eat there, but that's when lack of time and location allows for very few options.

                                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                                          Maybe they weren't as large then as they are now, but it was still a giant chain. I could name, probably, thirty other stores in my immediate area.

                                                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                            The density of the Subway shops was the focus of some sort of law suit a few years back. Many franchisees were complaining that Subway's go-between was not monitoring the locations relative to each other or didn't care to do so when they issued newer franchises. The Subways were so close to each other that they were actually parasitizing sales from each other.

                                                            1. re: bulavinaka

                                                              Kind of like Starbucks now, right? My best friend can see three of them from her house.

                                                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                Very similar in density, but Starbucks is reported to do studies (traffic direction, population density, etc.) to determine if placement of additional units close to existing units will offer net additional revenue.

                                                                And speaking of Starbucks (aka Char-bucks to coffee-nuts), my guilty pleasure there is their green tea frapp. Purists of coffee AND tea scorn all takers of this drink to H-E-double chopsticks.

                                                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                  Yes, but Starbucks DOES NOT franchise. It doesn't hurt some one who paid for a franchise by opening another right nearby.

                                                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                                                    It hurts either way - two units of the same franchises or two units of the same non-franchised firm.

                                                                    If one franchised unit that is too geographically close to another is taking sales away, that's cannibalization. If one unit of the same non-franchised firm is taking sales away from the other unit, and the combined sales can't overcome the combined overhead, then either the strategy is failed or the strategy has some other motive, i.e., forcing a competitor out of business, expected future growth in the area, etc.

                                                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                      Let's get back to Starbucks-NO Franchises. One on each side of the street in a major city. Most coffee action is on the going to work side of the street. Here the population might warrant both locations. Not just to ace out other vendors, but for customer convenience and to shorten wait times.

                                                                      Some franchises have geographic restricytions/territories. Subway used to be that way, but they bought back franchises with restrictions (in some cases) or allowed the franchise agreement and the guaranteed renewal periods to expire without granting a 'new' franchise agreement to the holder of the expired agreement.
                                                                      Many franchises now are not territorial in terms of no other franchise within so many miles, as opposed to you can open as many franchises you think will be profitable within the geography you've franchised.

                                                                      Classic example is Dunkin Donuts. They use to have geographic restrictions. Coffee had to be made fresh evcery 30 minutes and donuts made every 4 hours. Goodbye old franchisees. Now most are cold stores, baking done in a centraized location, goods not really fresh. A small city such as Milford, CT (50,000 residents and the home of Subway) has more than a dozen Dunkin Donuts. Somehow, the DD across from the Westfield Mall, The one in the Mall and the one in the Stop and Shop adjoining the mall all do business and serve a different clientele. This is the different motive. The units in the mall serve mall employees and customers.
                                                                      BTW--it's not unusual to have a Starbucks in the mall and another in Target at the mall. Both owned by Starbucks, but Target does NOT permit tipping in Starbucks under its roof.

                                                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                                                        ?? Go back to your original statement above. It appears you're addressing the issue of oversaturation franchise stores as a non-issue. I get all that stuff about what you're talking about directly above - it's been discussed on this post as well as others about places like DD and SB. And yes, we have several of those situations where multiple SBs are in the same 'hood, if not in the same shopping center, but SB does studies and surveys on this stuff in order to determine if an ad'l unit will actually be profitable in the end. Subway doesn't. Again, here's the wiki on Subway:


                                                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                          Don't believe everything you read on Wikipedia. Anyone can post and edit.
                                                                          My 13 year old's info technology class spent a week 'editing posts on wiki and then monitored how long it took for someone to correct the changes. Most were not corrected in the 3 month monitoring period.

                                                                    2. re: bagelman01

                                                                      Starbucks did have a deal with Magic Johnson where he franchised 105 locations, though he just recently sold those back to the company . I'm not sure if there are any other celebrity franchisees in the Starbucks fold, but the "average" person would have zero hope of acquiring a franchise with them.

                                                                  2. re: bulavinaka

                                                                    The reason Subway's franchise fee is so low is because you don't get any protection from the company. Other franchises charge more but won't allow other franchise locations to open too close by.

                                                                    1. re: ferret

                                                                      Yes, and there's a good reason why it's so cannibalistic. Here's the wiki:


                                                                2. re: bulavinaka

                                                                  " I stopped eating there regularly when all of the meat started to taste suspiciously similar."

                                                                  I understand that all their meats are poultry products. That's why the ham is so bland.

                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                    OMG, it's like the Double Meat Palace on Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

                                                                3. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                  Times have changed.
                                                                  Way back in the mid 70s, when Subway was just a local southern Connecticut chain, all their rolls were baked fresh evry day and delivered from Leon's Bakery in Hamden (where I was the purchasing agent). Meats and cheeses were cut in the store, and cold cuts were not all turkey based.

                                                                  Expansion brought economies of scale and mediocre food. Reminds me of when I was a kid. When we traveled cross country in 1961...My father said you could always stop at a Howard Johnson, Clean bathrooms, and safe to eat unadventurous food at high prices. Subway-ordinary food, everyone can find something to eat, walk away not quite satisfied, but good in a pinch.

                                                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                                                    Leon's Bakery sounds familiar. Where in Hamden is it?

                                                                    1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                      It was at 1355 Dixwell Avenue in the former First National store.
                                                                      It' moved to North Haven in the 80s and closed about 10 years ago

                                                                4. re: Bon3Shak3r

                                                                  We have a Brown Bag Deli here in DC too -- right across the street from a Subway, in fact. Many companies, including mine, use Brown Bag Deli to cater lunches. It's ok at best.

                                                              2. I often wonder the EXACT same thing. There is a subway in my town and NO ONE is ever in there. I find their food to be just OKAY, nothing that I would go out of my way for.

                                                                1. "How do they stay in business?"

                                                                  Good question! The only sandwiches I've ever had that were worse, were in school cafeterias, namely, cut-rate bologna or some sort of processed ham/turkey/chicken food product, with government cheese on off-brand Wonderbread or pasty white, sort of raw-doughy "rolls", the best part of which was generally the mustard.) I've always thought it was too bad that Subway didn't survive the 90s, since while far from amazing, is basically Subway done properly, which is saying something anyway.

                                                                  But presumably they survive because they're ubiquitous and when you come down to it, well, the majority of the Americans basically eat whatever's closest to hand and apparently have their tastebuds on their collective ass, judging by the "foods" and "restaurants" that are the mainstay outside of major urban areas (or relatively unique niche areas and the occasional "find".) Chowhound is all about the "other" stuff, but it's certainly not the way "America" seems to be eating these days judging by what you actually see people buying and eating in suburban and rural supermarkets and restaurants, where the majority of Americans do live, albeit not quite so visibly as in other spots. Use carpet-bomb-advertising methods, throw a little "chipotle mayo" in there somewhere and the crowds will usually flock.

                                                                  As to sandich size, with the amount of money they must spend on advertising, it's no wonder they put so little food on their sandwiches making them so-called healthy. Overstuffed is one thing, Subway, quite another at the other end of the spectrum, unless you're used to British tea sandwiches, maybe!! As for health claims, I suppose less bad food is "healthier" than more, but that's about as far as I'm willing to go with that...

                                                                  1. On the occasional visit, It's their BMT Sub loaded with veggies(Lettuce,tomatoes,pickles,olives,cukes,onions,green peppers, banana peppers,,oregano,oil and plenty o' vinegar)..its filling and saisfying

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Hue

                                                                      The problem with posting a question like this on Chowhound is that we CHer's do NOT represent the majority view on food preferences andquality in this country yet, not by a longshot. Why is Subway still open? Well, because there are millions upon millions of people in this country that are perfectly fine with ingredients that may be inferior becaue these tastes and atmospheres are comfortable to them. Is this right? I would say no, as would most of you, but again, we are the minority here. People keep patronizing Subways because they know exactly what to expect. Dieters know that they are going to get X number of calories from a processed turkey sub with fat free chips made from Olestra. Sure, the local sandwich shop may taste better, but they can't tell us exactly how many calories they are putting into each sandwich, and unfortunately that scares many of the "health conscious" eaters out there.There are chains around here (Nashville) that put out a fresh tasting product, Jersey Mike's being one that delivers well enough that I will sometimes stop in when the situation demands it. And you know what? It is a good sandwich. Subway does not, in my opinion, make a good sandwich. But it sure is familiar, and familiar sells. That is why Subways don't, and won't close.

                                                                    2. Everyone here has made some excellent points about Subway.

                                                                      I don't like Subway very much. I think their meats are gross (their roast beef is scary). As I live in the NYC area, I have a gazillion wonderful Italian delis to choose from if I want a sandwich.

                                                                      I do like the fact that at Subway I can load a sandwich up with veggies. I suspect a lot of people like that. I makes us all feel virtuous. Why do we need to overstuff a sandwich with "meat" and "cheese" anyway? A couple of slices is all we need for nutrition purposes and filling up on veggies is a good thing. I think that's one reason they stay in business. It makes people feel virtuous to eat there.

                                                                      They are also cheap and quick. You can have a filling meal for less than you would at a real deli. Here is an example. Two weeks ago my DH and I were on vacation in Chincoteague Island in VA. There are three take-out sandwich places on the island. One is called Not Just Salads, which is overpriced and the people who work there are obnoxious and rude, so we never go. There is Sea Star, which has expensive but awesome sandwiches, and is pricey. Then there is Subway. One day my DH and I decided to go to Sea STar. We ordered a couple of their specialty sandwiches. We had to wait 20 minutes to get them and our bill came to $16. Subway OTOH, is about $10 for the two of us and we can be out of there in under 10 minutes. The day we ate at Sea Star we were starving and it was a very hot day (there is no indoor seating area there), so we had to wait out in the heat hungry. An air-conditioned Subway seems like a better alternative sometimes, even if the food is inferior.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Avalondaughter

                                                                        Never mind "wonderful" Italian delis - of which there aren't that many in NYC these days - even the average corner deli run by whoever generally makes a better sandwich and honestly, in your example, I'd much sooner pay $3 more bucks for a good sandwich with a wait than suffer through Subway. (What can I say, I feel the same way about fast food; I can stand McD's but would sooner go hungry for 6 hours than eat Burger King.)

                                                                        And I have to say, "inferior" barely begins to describe Subway to my tastebuds. I'd much rather have a couple of bags of Doritos, just for the calories, for lunch if those were my options...

                                                                        And for what it's worth, I see I mis-typed in my original post, I was bemoaning the almost-demise of Blimpie's compared to Subway, but apparently typed "Subway" instead...

                                                                        1. re: Cheese Boy

                                                                          I nearly retch from the smell when i pass by a Subway. It's worse than the garbage smell on the streets. I think it's the smell of the bread which definitely isn't good bread but it doesn't taste half as bad as it smells. Blimpie is probably worse but there's no stench. I agree they've done a great job advertising especially by using that thin guy who lost the weight.

                                                                        2. I have no idea. I have no problem with and understand the principle of portion control, but the portion has to be a decent size. If I want a mouthful of bread, I will go to a bakery and buy a loaf.

                                                                          1. I don't get it either, but my son would rather eat a Subway than just about anything else...A lot of people love the "fresh" bread...

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: jinet12

                                                                              When I played volleyball Subway was the only reasonable option when surrounded by Mickey Dees, BK, and Wendy's. This was before the salads at those places became edible. I got sick of it pretty quick but if I ate any of the other options I would puke on the court. I transfered that option to my players when I started coaching. Its quick and its relatively healthy. And no, packing a healthy lunch is not an option these days for the spoiled brats I coach.

                                                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                It is reasonably healthy, if you hold the mayo/cheese/fatty meats and dressings. Problem is, people order ALL that on their sub at Subway and manage to convince themselves they're still eating healthy. They'd probably be better off with a broiled chicken sandwich from any of the chains.

                                                                            2. We flew recently, and before the outbound flight had a sit-down meal at terminal E in Boston. The bread was so stale it was inedible, and the fillings were virtually non-existant, We left half despite our hunger, and with two beers it came to $30.00.

                                                                              Upon returning, Subway was the only decent to-go option, so we got a 12" veggie pattie on parmesan bread with spicy mustard, provolone and a pile of all the fresh veggies except onions. We had it cut and wrapped in two pieces, and we shared it on our otherwise foodless flight. The cost was $7.00.

                                                                              I don't eat at Subway very often, but to me it is a "situational" option, and it has been in the right place at the right time.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: chowfamily

                                                                                I clicked onto this thread because I just had basically the same experience. I had a flight at Dulles last weekend and went to eat at one of the sit-down joints in the terminal. The food proved awful and I knew I needed something for the flight to San Francisco. So I grabbed a BMT at Subway to take on the plane. It wasn't the greatest sandwich I've ever had, but it was tastier than I'd expected it would be, the produce on it was fresh and overall I was very pleased. It's definitely a situational thing.

                                                                                1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                  Ditto--flew a few weeks ago from Detroit and had a pre flight meal at a "taqueria" in the old terminal that was overpriced and AWFUL (Detroit has a fantastic new terminal with lots of good choices, and a shabby old terminal which will be demolished next year, so they aren't putting any effort into it). In Denver we had a 50 min layover--my son was famished so we got him a Subway and he was very happy. I must say it smelled pretty good!

                                                                                  To top it off, when we got off the plane in Seattle my mom wanted to eat at Denny's. Not a good chowhound day.

                                                                              2. The smell of Subway's so-called bread wafting out of their stores makes me feel positively ill. I can't imagine what induces people to go there.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: aching

                                                                                  I can deal with the fact that the sandwiches aren't overstuffed (although it's true that they may be more accurately described as skimpy).

                                                                                  But yes...the bread is definitely one of the worst things about both Subway and Quizno's...simply awful, and all wrong for a decent sub. Much like the in-store bakeries infesting supermarkets these days, the fact that they bake their bread there doesn't necessarily mean it's well made (a major exception however is the bakeries within the Wegman stores...their breads are genrally first rate, authentic, and one of the only decent substitutes around anymore for the wonderful local mom and pop ethnic bakeries that were once so prevalent.

                                                                                2. Subway succeeds where I live because it has the cheapest food that isn't fried. No other reason. I also agree that the odor of the bread is vile.

                                                                                  1. because my boyfriend eats there everyday...the original Subway is in the town where I was born

                                                                                    1. Subway and Quizno's both have pretty miserable food. The breads used at both places are particularly heinous for places that claim to be sub joints.

                                                                                      Most corner delis and even some of the better supermarkets make better sandwichs/subs than these places do.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: The Professor

                                                                                        And the bread is the main reason why I'd rather not eat there unless there are no better options (say, a Subway sandwiched between a Wendy's and a KFC, with nothing else for miles and starvation about to set in). I'm not a big fan of overstuffed sandwiches, so to me a sub is all about the bread. I just want it moistened with some veggies, a little meat and some interesting condiments. Don't serve me dry, chemical, plastic bag-flavored bread that smells bad, please.

                                                                                      2. One word: Jared

                                                                                        Compared to other quick stops, Subway is generally the healthiest option (least amount of guilt) for the quick customer. There food isn't all that great, but it's certainly filling and a good bargain.

                                                                                        On the portions, they used to be much bigger, but became smaller around their $5 deals - The same goes for Quiznos.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: ediblover

                                                                                          so perhaps it is not my imagination. I seem to recall the sandwiches were better back in the 80s.

                                                                                        2. Oh God, my daughter and I went shopping at a very upscale mall today. To get from one half to the other, you have to go up an escalator and cross through a "bridge" over a road. The bridge is a food court, and they've recently added a Subway. Coming off the elevator, we were immediately overwhelmed by that Subway stench, which persisted into the nearbye Banana Republic. I don't know what ingredients Subway uses that produce such a disgusting smell, but I certainly would eat none of it.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                            I remember driving down a highway once(can't remember where) and suddenly there is that smell. I say there must be a subway nearby. I look over and sure enough, there was a Subway. Needless to say, I didn't get off that exit!

                                                                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                              pikawicca, i love your post. couldn't agree with you more. i love the smell of bread but subway makes me gag and it somehow seems to be the smell of their bread. but how can bread smell bad!?! i just don't get it. uggh. there's one a half block away from where i live

                                                                                            2. the smell outside of every single subway ive been near has made me naseous.

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: PotatoPuff

                                                                                                The smell use to be okay, but I walk by one almost everyday and it's now off-putting. Why does it smell so sour? They must put lots of yeast in their bread? It would explain how light and airy (read: low-cost) their bread is...

                                                                                                1. re: PotatoPuff

                                                                                                  There's something Soylent Greenish about the general smell from Subways - a smell that one associates with things that smell like food but shouldn't be eaten.

                                                                                                  1. re: PotatoPuff

                                                                                                    almost as bad as walking past a nail salon... seriously

                                                                                                  2. on my side, i think the smell of bread cooking at subway mainly changed the day they introduced their cheese covered bread (italian herbs and cheese, parmesan and oregano)

                                                                                                    The cheese smell overwhelming the bread smell.

                                                                                                    I admit i do like subway, but i'm more conventional in my choices (9 grains bread with different meats/toppings combo)

                                                                                                    1. It seems that both Subway and Quizno stay in business as most, if not all, of their clients are not Chowhound type people. Thus people who fuel not enjoy. In the world there are far more people like 'them' than like 'us'. Been to each once, took a bite, threw the sandwich away, and have not been back.

                                                                                                      13 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                                        Just curious what you think a Chowhound-type person is? I've been going to Subways for 35 years, and been on Chowhound for at least 11. Perhaps you think the Chowhound Chains board should be reserved for discussion of Morton's, Ruth's Chris, and other overpriced chains only?

                                                                                                        Seriously. Get over yourself.

                                                                                                        1. re: Bob W

                                                                                                          We go to different types of dining establishments for different reasons. In Philly people go to Wawa for it's convenience and to get a bite. However nobody suggests it as a destination spot for hot or cold sandwiches like we might Reading Terminal or Paesano's. Same type of food but at two completely different levels. Subway is not trying to make great roast pork, hoagies or cheesesteaks. That's all I think he/she is saying. I'm sure that we can agree on that?

                                                                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                            I was with you up to "That's all I think he/she is saying." He/she pretty clearly put anyone who eats at Subway in the "them" category as opposed to the obviously superior "us" category. I don't think he/she would admit to eating at Wawa either, other than to say he/she tried it once, took a bite, threw the sandwich away, and has not been back.

                                                                                                            1. re: Bob W

                                                                                                              I would like the Wawa phenom. explained to me. i don't get it...but SO has to stop everytime we see one and get a hoagie for lunch the next day.

                                                                                                              1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                I have a friend who is a Wawa freak like that too. I got him a Wawa gift card for his 50th birthday. For gas station food, it's certainly good (same for Sheetz). But how they got to cult status I don't know either!

                                                                                                                1. re: Bob W

                                                                                                                  I can usually find something on the Sheetz menu I like. We're a house divided. Luckily Sheetz is more prevalent in this area.

                                                                                                                  1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                    Have you tried the Greek yogurt parfait with apricots? Really good!

                                                                                                                    1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                      It's 10pm, I'm leaving work and I have $6 on me (which sadly happens far too often). I'm not cooking that late. Around here in the burbs (even though we're near the heart of Sheetz territory, the closest is 8 miles) It's Subway or a burger chain. Subway will win that every time.

                                                                                                                      And I've been frequently (and in some food categories, correctly) accused of being a snob. I've never thrown a Subway away. Can't say I love 'em, but they're a better alternative than some other choices.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                                                                        And you dare call yourself Panini Guy?;]

                                                                                                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                          If only there were a place like 'Ino were on my way home. But it's all chains after 10pm.

                                                                                                                          Guess that means I need to move.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                                                                            If it's 10pm and I want a sandwich, I'd hit a 24-hour grocery store or a 7-11 and get some lunchmeat and a loaf of bread before I'd go to Subway. I'm no snob, but I HAVE thrown a Subway sandwich away (the meat just tasted off). Seriously, I've had gas station hotdogs that had more flavor than Subway and didn't make my pants explode.

                                                                                                            2. re: Bob W

                                                                                                              what do you order at subway? perhaps not every meal has to be delicious, but imo subway is just fuel. what would you consider tasty?

                                                                                                              1. re: fara

                                                                                                                Usually the Spicy Italian, and as many veggies as they will pile on for me.

                                                                                                          2. A coworker of mine deemed Subway as "worthy" saying that he really enjoyed their sandwiches. All that I could conclude is that some people equate worthy with food that is utterly unoffensive and bland. From the bread to the meat to the toppings it's all unoffensive.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                              The bread, meat, and toppings at Subway may be inoffensive, but THAT SUBWAY SMELL is not. I'd rather smell a can of dog food than Subway.

                                                                                                            2. I worked at Subway for a little bit in my early high school years, shortly before they changed the way they cut the bread, and I can certainly sympathize with everyone that mentions the "Subway smell." I think I may have burned my work clothes when I finally quit. For years, I think the smell is what kept me away from going to Subway for a bite.

                                                                                                              That said, now that I'm a working stiff I find that I patronize Subway around once a week for lunch, on average. A year or two ago I went a lot more often. The reason I go: health.

                                                                                                              At Subway I can get a 6-inch sandwich, eat the whole thing, and still consume less than 350 calories. When I'm trying to have a healthy lunch Subway is one of my few and best options. It is easily one of the lightest (calorie-wise), most filling and fastest options available to me (and I have plenty of lunch options nearby). It's very much a cost-benefit analysis -- if I'm trying to watch my caloric intake, the benefit of fewer calories in Subway is greater than the benefit I would get from the added taste and calories in Quiznos, Jimmy John's, some other sandwich chain, or one of the local deli-type places.

                                                                                                              Ultimately, I think they stay in business because they have good margins, are an affordable franchise option, and have excellent marketing. I would imagine a lot of people choose Subway over other options (and they certainly do where I live) because of the perceived healthiness of their sandwiches. They serve a sufficient product at a reasonable price and market well; therefore, Subway appeals to many demographics.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                                For myself, I think that the "perceived healthiness" of Subway's sandwiches is part of why I eat there. I can't think of any other lunch place around where I lunch (DC) that posts its nutritional information/makes it so easily accessible. If they did--and if it was comparable to my Veggie Delight--I'd likely turn to them instead of to Subway.

                                                                                                              2. quite an old post, but i still wonder this every week or so when i see one or dh eats there. the fact that they are spreading like wildfire across the globe is even more perplexing.

                                                                                                                1. Interestingly, I just read in the Wall Street Journal today that Subway now has more outlets than McDonald's.

                                                                                                                  From the Wall Street Journal:

                                                                                                                  "At the end of last year, Subway had 33,749 restaurants worldwide, compared to McDonald's 32,737."

                                                                                                                  11 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                                    The article also stated that McDonald's revenue is still higher.

                                                                                                                    I stopped going to Subway (or at least make sure employees look like they know how to make a sandwich) after having had two places make a tuna fish sub for me based on their measurement of the tuna fish into two small spoons and then proceeded to spread the tuna like they were spreading butter on toast. When I asked for a little bit more tuna fish so I knew that I was eating a sandwich made with tuna fish, they acted like they wanted to accommodate me and when I checked out, the owner attempted to charge me more for the "extra" tuna fish (one more spoonful, I kid you not). Their actions were explained to me as having been trained to respond as such by Subway management. I noticed that this kind of "by the book literalism" only has taken place when ownership and employees originate from Asia, in particular. (I don't mean to insinuate that demographic apportions food in this way for all restaurants, but I got that these people were not trained by Subway properly to address the American customer according to this culture.)

                                                                                                                    What struck me as odd about this approach, is that Subway is known for loading up the sandwich with "all the extras" based on what a customer requests. Adding an extra spoonful of tunafish, I doubt, would put this Subway chain out of business.

                                                                                                                    1. re: FelafelBoy

                                                                                                                      They tried to cheat you. No matter which location I go to or the ethnicity of the person who waits on me (and few of them speak english), 4 scoops of tuna is standard.

                                                                                                                      1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                        Foot-long: 4.

                                                                                                                        Six-inch: 2.

                                                                                                                        So without knowing which he ordered it's hard to accuse.

                                                                                                                          1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                            Having said that, I've had Subway employees scoop out the tuna on my sandwich like they were dealing with high explosives and wanted to make sure they didn't accidentally get too many excess molecules in the melon-baller-size scoop they use. It's like their pay will be docked if they measure out more than the bare minimum.

                                                                                                                            And don't get me started on Quizno's, although they have a better product overall, the last time I went they spread a layer of guacamole over the bread so thinly that you couldn't even discern any green color.

                                                                                                                            Comparing any of these places to local (Chicago) sub shops puts them all to shame. At our Fontano's, the workers aren't satisfied unless the fillings extend over the edges of the bread. And the price difference is trivial $1-$2. And a 8" sub is heavier than a 12" at Subway (better bread, better fillings, better, better, better).

                                                                                                                            1. re: ferret

                                                                                                                              No argument here either, ferret.
                                                                                                                              Quizno's is better but 'less is more ' there. Their prices are higher and the sandwiches smaller.
                                                                                                                              No question about it. Italian delis, run by real Italians, are far superior to any chain.

                                                                                                                              1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                                I generally would agree with you, and not just about Italian delis but Kosher-style delis as well. But I have been to my share of independent sandwich places that have all the warmth of a Midwest March rain storm. They're doing you a favor for letting you in the door and eh, it's not like you're spending that much money there. Oh, wait, there's a regular, excuse me while I ignore you for ten minutes while they don't buy anything this time
                                                                                                                                . If the chain place, and this does include some Subways, has someone behind the counter who actually does care about making it the best they can for their customer, I don't mind so much given I know the dropoff in quality isn't so significant if I know exactly what I want and like.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Fibber McGee

                                                                                                                                  Oh please, using Subway as an example of care in preparation is a stretch. It's like saying the 7-11 clerks make the best Slurpee they can. I don't look to sandwich preparers for warmth, I expect them to provide me with a good quality product.

                                                                                                                                  From a recent "Parks and Recreation" episode:

                                                                                                                                  "[Talking about a stripper at The Glitter Factory] There is a girl here that also works at Quiznos. She's really nice to me here, but really mean to me at Quiznos."

                                                                                                                                  1. re: ferret

                                                                                                                                    You can take my comment as you want. The bottom line is just because you have a little independent place doesn't mean it's automatically going to be better than your standard chain. I've been to independents where the people behind the counter didn't give a rat's patootey about whomever the heck was trying to get a sandwich, let alone taking any care into selling a decent product. I have also been to chain places where, if the person running the show and his crew actually did put some effort into it, and there are even Subways that do this to the point where it is better than just a convenience.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Fibber McGee

                                                                                                                                      Nobody's going to argue that there are restaurants that fall into all categories across the spectrum; it's just that where a known quantity exists and the difference is about $1 or $1.50, it boggles the mind that people will select Subway.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: ferret

                                                                                                                                        And I absolutely agree with that. A good, independent place will get my business because the quality is likely higher than the well-run chain. Loyalty based on simple familiarity is kind of hard to break, sometimes.

                                                                                                                  2. uggghhh went in to buy a bottle of soda (in a huge rush), and the smell made me want to vomit.

                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: PotatoPuff

                                                                                                                      The good thing about Subway is that if you DID vomit, nobody would be able to smell it.

                                                                                                                      That's the Subway advantage!

                                                                                                                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                        Worked at Subway in CT in the early 80's. My mother made me hang my ugly brown smock in the garage cause it stunk up the house. Even when I hadn't worked people would comment that they smelled Subway, I guess it was coming out of my pores! Back in those days we cut all the meat and veggies. We made the tuna in a big wash basin. The bread came from a bakery and it was yummy. We used to make deli roll ups because we couldn't resist freshly cut meats, things have changed so dramatically that I can't bring myself to eat the crap they serve today. Yuk!

                                                                                                                    2. This morning Yahoo had on their front page something about "Subway Spaghetti" as a popular trending story. I didn't bother with it when I first saw it, then it dawned on me after a bit that Subway was entering a whole new area in their culinary offerings.
                                                                                                                      Fortunately, it was a false alarm on my part as there was a pasta-throwing incident in a NYC subway car or something like that and not the franchise's retraining of their "sandwich artists".

                                                                                                                      1. I feel sorry for you, my dear American friends. Obviously Subway in the States is different than in Canada. I love the smell of their fresh bread. It smells like my Grandma's kitchen, not some sick smell like you are talking about. The meat, granted is not "fresh", but it is like the local deli meat. The veggies are always fresh as far as I can see and taste. Great taste too! Having said that, I might be one of the lucky ones that has a few Subways in my area that care. There may be others, even in my city that are not that great, but for me, I could eat there once a week with NO problem.

                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Godslamb

                                                                                                                          "I love the smell of their fresh bread. It smells like my Grandma's kitchen, not some sick smell like you are talking about."

                                                                                                                          What's your favorite bakery in your town? Where do you buy your fresh baguettes and loaves? Subway smells like that?

                                                                                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                            Yes, it does actually. I wonder if there is a different recipe in the States than in Canada? Sounds kind of silly, I know, but it really does smell like a bakery in my local Subway.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Godslamb

                                                                                                                              You haven't told me your favorite bakery yet. I'd love to know.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                Oh! Sorry. It is a bakery called Glenmorgan Bakery. It is a small bakery, but it has the most wonderful baked goods.

                                                                                                                          2. re: Godslamb

                                                                                                                            When you have to rationalize liking your Subway because it's unlike Subways in general then it isn't exactly a vote of confidence in the chain.

                                                                                                                            1. re: ferret

                                                                                                                              Not necessarily rationalizing, I just wondered if it is different in Canada than in the States. I don't know, I haven't gone to a Subway in the States yet. Maybe I would say the same thing?? *shrug* :)

                                                                                                                              1. re: Godslamb

                                                                                                                                Agree with you, Godslamb (Which I originally read your name as Godslam or "God slam". Bwah?)
                                                                                                                                Granted while Subway's meatballs and "rib" meats are kind of lacking, as a fellow Canuck, I've never had a problem with the deli meats, the veggies, and the bread when it's freshly baked.
                                                                                                                                ANd I agree with the smell in there when they have a batch baking in the oven.

                                                                                                                          3. "two half slices of Swiss (cut into triangles) onto a roll and asks me "anything else?" What the?"

                                                                                                                            Lol, weirdos have to eat too! If subways is your only fast food option other than for example a Panera bread you need to throw yourself in front of a moving vehicle

                                                                                                                            1. Every once in awhile, I see posts on CH about the "Subway smell", and it always baffles me. I have to assume that some Subways are badly maintained and others aren't; the one near me just smells like fresh-baked bread. Maybe people don't like the smell of yeast and dough?

                                                                                                                              As to how they stay open... there's plenty of sub/sandwich places in my area, but I often wind up at Subway. They're cleaner, friendlier, cheaper, and faster than the majority of the "sub shops", and they post their nutrition info. And they make a very decent sandwich.

                                                                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                                                                                I am also puzzled by the reports of the "Subway smell." There are quite a number of Subway sandwich stops here in Tokyo and NONE of them have any untoward or unusual smell. Japanese people are very sensitive to odor, so perhaps that sort of problem doesn't exist at Subway outlets here in Japan.

                                                                                                                                Still, I consider Subway as part of the fast food realm, but the emphasis on raw vegetables makes it a good choice over other greasier fare lacking in vegetables.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                                                                                  The first time I smelled it, it was St Patricks Day and I thought the bank employees were doing a corned beef and sauerkraut party in the back. That's exactly what it smells like to me. They told me no, it was just Subway. And every single time I return to my bank (a thin wall away from Subway) the smell is always there. Maybe something to do with vinegar?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                                                                                    I bake a lot of bread, even worked in a bakery for a while. I love the smell of yeast and dough.

                                                                                                                                    I can't even walk into a subway, that smell just hits me in the face. My wife loves them and claims she doesn't smell it. I was beginning to think I was crazy until I read some accounts similar to mine on here several years ago.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: chileheadmike

                                                                                                                                      I have yet to encounter a Subway that doesn't have "the smell." I submit that it must be like cilantro: either you can't get enough of the stuff or it tastes like soap. There is no middle ground.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                        A wildly unscientific poll of my friends finds that everyone I know thinks that Subway smells like bread and, occasionally, cleaning products or just-melted cheese.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                                                                                          An even more unscientific poll of co-workers finds that everyone thinks the place smells like a cross between sour milk and wide-open butt.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                            Thank god I never have to go to your Subway! Whenever you're in Boston, feel free to visit what is apparently the only non-stinky Subway in America. No butts, I promise.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                                                                                              I'm pretty Subway won't make my Top 50 List of Places to Eat in Boston, but thanks for the invite! Maybe I'll stop by and give it a wiff on the way to the oyster house.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                                                                                                Even if the place didn't smell, the bread they use for their sandwiches is really the pits.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                                                                  I know someone who managed a Subway for a couple of years. He's a chef and knows good food from crap. He told me that based on what he saw while there, he'd never put anything into his mouth that Subway offers. With regards to the "smell", he told me that there is no actual yeast in the bread. It's all done chemically, so that the dough can be defrosted, proofed and baked in record time and with as little human interaction (beyond seasoning) as possible.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                                                                                                    I agree that Subway is drek, but am suspicious of your friend's claim that there is no yeast in the bread. Yeast bread dough can be frozen and the yeast remains active upon thawing. Unless they are doing the breads somehow with a kind of baking powder leavening. Or maybe they are using par-baked breads (like most supermarket 'bakeries' use).
                                                                                                                                                    Whatever they do, the bread they use is definitely a major contributor to the Subway crap-fest.

                                                                                                                                    2. Subway is a love/hate place for me. On one hand that "portion control" your seeing is a legit way to actually keep calories at bay, but the massive amount of carbs via bread consumed with that scant amount of meat and cheese is rather counter productive.

                                                                                                                                      Id much rather they use smaller bread sizes, and larger servings of meat. But that would cost them more money.. so in the end, we lose.

                                                                                                                                      Although I give them props for now offering avocado in Canada! Although I wonder how they keep it so fresh and green, as the stuff I've tried so far lacked any acidity.. I wonder..

                                                                                                                                      Anyways, Maybe if they went out of business we would see more people taking the 3 minutes it takes to make their own healthier home made subs at home.. saving both time and money! Because remember, it takes time to drive to subway and wait in line.. probably more time than it takes to prepare a sub at home with more lean meat and less carby bread, for probably 50% the cost!


                                                                                                                                      Oh, P.S.
                                                                                                                                      A good friend of mine used to work back shift at subway in my younger years. I used to swing by there to pick up a majorly loaded sub well after midnight a couple times a week. And I will tell you this.. After being "behind the counter" a few times and seeing the cases that their meat comes in.. seeing the ingredients, the frozen states, etc.. and knowing what I know about food and nutrition now.. Lets just say I try to steer clean of subway the way I steer clear of McDonald's. Decent once in a while, but god forbid I eat there daily.

                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: FoodFigure

                                                                                                                                        It's always easy for folks to say "make it at home!" but honestly, while it might be healthier, it'd cost WAY more.

                                                                                                                                        For me to make, say, a BMT sub at home, I'd need:
                                                                                                                                        - one tomato ($1)
                                                                                                                                        - one head of lettuce ($1)
                                                                                                                                        - a baguette or bread loaf, unless I baked it myself ($1 or so)
                                                                                                                                        - sliced deli meat ($3-$5)
                                                                                                                                        - sliced deli cheese ($3 or so)

                                                                                                                                        So for $10 or so, I could build my own BMT. Or I could have pretty much exactly the same thing for half the price at Subway.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                                                                                          As you've noted, the "make at home" logic barely works if you're bringing the food home but the majority of people get fast food because they aren't at home, so I don't understand why people always bring this point up as if it was a compelling reason not ot eat somewhere.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: ferret

                                                                                                                                            Subway can be a last resort, I suppose.
                                                                                                                                            But if I'm on the road and want a sub, and if there's a choice between Subway, Quizno's (which may be even worse) or a generic corner deli or local pizza joint (many of which also make subs), I would certainly opt for one of the last two options if I want a decent sub.
                                                                                                                                            And for what it's worth, I am not prejudiced against chains in general.
                                                                                                                                            Only the crappy ones.