Today brings news from Subway, the chain intent on devouring New York with the subtlety of flesh-eating bacteria. It’s trying to class itself up. And take over Brooklyn.
That first tidbit comes courtesy of Nation’s Restaurant News, which reports that the chain is “testing a more upscale format called Subway Café, which the company hopes will address the needs of franchisees looking to open in office buildings and other more high-end venues.”
“Upscale” in this case means a “sandwich concept and coffee bar” that “is a ‘little larger’ than the average 1,200-square-foot Subway.” It will serve baked goods, espresso, hot chocolate, “frozen blended beverages,” and chai lattes. Décor-wise, think something along the lines of the the devil spawn of Starbucks and the Olive Garden: brick or wood-paneled walls, lounge-style seating, and, just for the hell of it, a fireplace.
NRN notes without a trace of alarm that the new concept “is expected to help fuel Subway’s rapid growth.” The rapidly proliferating chain is planning to open 2,000 stores throughout North America this year.
And according to the Post, 100 of them will be in Brooklyn. Aside from giving Manhattan something else to feel vindicated about, this means that there will soon be no safe harbor from that unmistakable stench. Apparently the folks at Subway feel they’re doing Brooklyn a favor: Quoth one Daryl Meyers, Subway’s Brooklyn development agent (an ominous title if ever there was one), the borough “has fewer stores per population than any other place in the US.” Which means, naturally, “We are going full tilt on expanding in Brooklyn.” Expect a “new goal” by 2015.
The thing is, no matter how many fake fireplaces Subway accrues, it will always be Subway. Meaning it will always be the slightly-less-trashy alternative to McDonald’s and Burger King, the one whose presence you welcome at a rest stop and tolerate everywhere else when there’s nothing else that’s open. As long as it smells the way it does, Subway will never be upscale, and it shouldn’t be. Instead, it needs to embrace and own its downscale mediocrity, rather than try to pander to people who would just as soon go to Starbucks for burnt coffee and suspect scones. The word “café” isn’t fooling anybody, except maybe people who believe that armchairs and Wi-Fi make McDonald’s a classy restaurant.
Those people seem to include Subway’s executives, as their plans are more or less a carbon copy of McDonald’s. Please, ladies and gentlemen, get a clue. And leave us the fuck alone.