Culinary no-no #703


It’s not McDonald’s. Starbuck’s. Or KFC.

With roughly 24,000 stores in the United States and about 42,000 stores worldwide, Subway is the world’s largest fast-food chain.

I don’t like Subway and have written about my displeasure in the past.

When I was a legislative staffer at the state Capitol, a popular lunch spot was the Subway just off the Capitol Square (There was no Cousins nearby). I swear the attraction wasn’t the quality of the AHA-certified menu but the price. That’s what drew me less than a handful of times. My last visit to that or any other Subway came many, many years ago during one noon hour in May.

It was an unusually warm spring day. Madison actually gets to enjoy a spring. And it was quite busy at Subway with people lined up outside the door that was propped wide open. Even if the place was air conditioned, the open door was doing no good.

The air inside was sticky and stale. Flies and even a stray bee or two were flying around and occasionally landing on the meats and veggies.

Back at my desk, like the other few times I bought a Subway sub, I second-guessed myself wondering ‘What was I thinking?’

The bread is chintzy and plainer than plain. Cold cuts and accompaniments are nothing spectacular. Seasonings are ho-hum. The entire sub is incredibly bland.

Plus the “ambience” of that Subway location was anything but appealing. The warm, humid air, the flies, the bees. Makes me think an American Heart Association representative would keel over at the sight of such conditions. And then there were the folks on the other side of the counter. Multiple body piercings with multiple tattoos seemed to be the company uniform.

Don’t care at all for Subway. Jersey Mike’s is better. Jimmy John’s is better. Schlotzsky’s and Potbelly ate better.

I thanked God when a Quiznos arrived on the Capitol Square in Madison.

You stand in a single-file line to place your order with a young man I believe was from Central America. Every fast food worker in America should be required to take lessons from that guy. Pleasant, quick, effective, accurate.

Now the assembly line starts constructing your made to order sandwich. If it’s a hot one it’s placed in a moving toaster. Patrons love that method because the slightly smoky sub tastes like it came right out of the oven.

And this is a terrific touch.

Image wrote about chain restaurants that are disappearing the fastest. One of them is Quiznos.

In 2007, Quiznos had 5,000 locations around the globe. The chain was sold in 2018 to a private firm when Quiznos’ locations had plummeted to just 405. As of 2019 there were fewer than 400. Ten were in Wisconsin. Milwaukee’s only spot was in the airport.

The recession battered Quiznos so badly it filed for bankruptcy in 2014 before the franchise was sold.

Another chain fading from the landscape is Subway.

The sub shops promised healthier choices in the early 2000s and America ate them up. But they’re not the only game in town in that regard.

Subway dumped more than 900 restaurants in 2017 and another 1,100 in 2018. In 2019 the company had fewer than 25,000 locations in the U.S., the lowest level since 2011. If you look at the global count, the closures amount to more than 2,300.

A spokesman said Subway was focused on “smart growth and restaurant optimization—having the best locations to drive profitability…to achieve this goal some owners will close, relocate, or remodel their locations and that will result in slightly fewer, but more profitable restaurants.”

John Gordon, a restaurant consultant out of San Diego said, “As painful as it is for franchisees and the company, it is very much needed, and it needs to fall some more. The quality of some of the sites is beyond poor. And in dense areas you’ve got multiple Subways within very close range.”

A couple of weeks ago came news that didn’t help Subway’s image with me.

A reporter with the NY Times took more than 60 inches of Subway tuna sandwiches from three Subway restaurants in the Los Angeles area and sent the five feet of sandwiches to a specialized fish-testing lab. The results?

The lab said it found “no amplifiable tuna DNA was present in the sample and so we obtained no amplification products from the DNA. Therefore, we cannot identify the species.

A spokesperson told the NY Times, “There’s two conclusions. One, it’s so heavily processed that whatever we could pull out, we couldn’t make an identification. Or we got some and there’s just nothing there that’s tuna.”

Inside Edition did a similar test in February and tuna DNA was identified.

This is America we’re talking about so in January a lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California claiming the ingredient billed as “tuna” in Subway’s sandwiches and wraps is “made from anything but tuna” and is actually a “mixture of various concoctions.”

Karen Dhanowa and Nilima Amin say they conducted independent lab tests of “multiple samples” of tuna from several California Subway locations, and results show the ingredient according to their complaint is “a mixture of various concoctions that do not constitute tuna, yet have been blended together by defendants to imitate the appearance of tuna.”

So what’s really in those Subway tuna sandwiches? An attorney for the complainants won’t divulge, only to say the ingredients are not tuna and are not fish.

Subway’s response?

“There simply is no truth to the allegations in the complaint that was filed in California. Subway delivers 100 [percent] cooked tuna to its restaurants, which is mixed with mayonnaise and used in freshly made sandwiches, wraps, and salads that are served to and enjoyed by our guests. The taste and quality of our tuna make it one of Subway’s most popular products and these baseless accusations threaten to damage our franchisees, small business owners who work tirelessly to uphold the high standards that Subway sets for all of its products, including its tuna. Given the facts, the lawsuit constitutes a reckless and improper attack on Subway’s brand and goodwill, and on the livelihood of its California franchisees. Indeed, there is no basis in law or fact for the plaintiffs’ claims, which are frivolous and are being pursued without adequate investigation.”

Read the NY Times story here.

Something is definitely fishy here.

I’m sticking with Cousins.

More Subway news.


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ICYMI, Culinary no-no #702

2 thoughts on “Culinary no-no #703

  1. Pingback: Culinary no-no #704 | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

  2. Pingback: My Most Popular Blogs (07/19/21) | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

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