Friday, March 13, 2009


It turns out that I am somewhat of a "sandwich connoisseur" and I didn't even know it. I love all kinds of sandwiches.

Today I'm thinking about subs...this may not be very interesting, but it's what's on my mind.

For years about the (seemingly) only national chain that served decent subs was Subway and in the late 90's a group of friends and I where I used to work ate at Subway up to 3 times a week. Back then, Subway was owned by a group of doctors that wanted good food that could be good for you too. This went on for a while, but things have changed...have they ever.

We've stopped asking my youngest son where he would like to go eat if we are grabbing a bite out because he always wants to go to Subway... It reminds me of conversations between my mom and my brother and I when we were very young. We ALWAYS wanted to eat at McDonald's was McDonald's! Now that I am an adult I realize what McDonald's is and where it resides in the world of cuisine. The idea behind McDonald's is that it supposed to be the same everywhere - not the best - just...very familiar...and it is. If I get a double cheeseburger in Cleveland and another in Amarillo I would expect them to taste EXACTLY THE SAME - and they (generally) do.

Subway is now the McDonald's of subs - they are everywhere and there are rarely any surprises when you eat there. However, I can also remember the growing pains that McD's went through in the late 70's and 80's. Up until then, McD's was known for good food, fast and cheap. The "cheap" part got harder and harder to do with the same quality standards and the prices went up and the menu changed. Yeah they still have hamburgers, but they aren't as big anymore... I can still remember getting a Big Mac in the 70's where the patties looked like silver dollars...

I just finished eating lunch at Subway and my experience there is indicative of that same process. 8 years ago if I had ordered a foot long BMT and attempted to eat it in one sitting I would have rolled out of the place. Today I just kept looking for the meat and wondering if there was a sub buried in all that bread. It was pathetic - what good is a $5 foot long if to get it to me at that price you have cut half the meat off of it and put the toppings on with a toothpic?

Not too long ago when they started the original "5 Dollar Foot Long" campaign I called it. I told my family to watch and that something was going to change after the campaign was over.

I called it right.

They kept the $5 fool longs, but only for their cheapest subs and then raised the prices of all the rest hoping that we would all forget how much they had originally cost before the campaign! Now it's back and here's what I see.

When this one is over - it's over - and the "cheap" subs will be priced just like the other subs. Also, the subs that used to taste so good and fill you up will leave you wanting for more. They built a sub empire that can't be maintained and it shows.

My solution?

Run, do not walk, to your nearest Jersey Mike's or Jimmy John's and never go back to the "McDonald's of subs" again. If you want McDonald's- go to McDonald's - they have had a couple decades to re-invent themselves and they did a pretty good job. Also, JM and JJ are getting to do it right from the beginning after seeing Scrubway flounder around - at least someone is learning from their mistakes...

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