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Subway is a grocery store now?

Illustration for article titled Subway is a grocery store now?
Photo: Joe Raedle (Getty Images)

Well, this is unexpected. Even as beloved restaurants have found ways to pivot to grocery supply to weather the current pandemic—and some have even made the decision to do so permanently—the nation’s fast food and chain restaurants have more or less relied on drive-thru and other contact-minimizing methods of service to get by. But Subway? Subway wants to be your everything. And that’s why it’s introducing Subway Grocery.

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Yes, you can order loaves of Subway bread and all the sandwich meat you could dream of, plus meatballs and marinara, falafel, veggie patties, whole egg patties, egg white patties, cheeses galore—anything that can be crafted by a Subway sandwich artist is now yours to build at home. As a chirpy promotional video is quick to emphasize, “There’s a new way to restock your fridge... it’s way more than just subs.” The grocery supply also includes items like fresh vegetables such as whole red onions, cucumbers, and tomatoes (hey, this stuff sounds fresh!), 2-lb. bags of signature soups (this, less so!), bulk pouches of sauce (sure!), plus cookies by the dozen, multi-packs of miniature bags of chips, and beverages.

A lot of the items are being sold in bulk, which seems more efficient than trying to package Subway inventory into chic meal kits at a markup. If you find yourself missing your daily shaved steak—or if you’ve always wanted to order an assemblage of items on your sub that would potentially embarrass you in front of your sandwich artist—this could be a solid option for you. There are options for both contactless pickup and delivery, though only at 1,200 locations so far; when entering a Chicago address, for example, the nearest Subway Grocery options were 20 miles outside the city. The website indicates, however, that new states and locations are being added every day.

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At this point in the quarantine timeline, it is perhaps overkill to mention the strangeness of seeing cartoon figures of cheery Subway employees wearing face masks as they drop off groceries at your door or in the trunk of your car. Or the surreal nature of this testimonial from a happy customer in Los Angeles displayed on the Subway Grocery homepage [emphasis ours]: “What a wonderful experience! I ordered easily online and it was here in less than two hours. Just waiting on our doorstep without having to have contact with anybody.” Or the idea that a graphic designer was tasked with drawing up a new Subway logo that includes a little grocery basket and a homepage graphic that features two heels of bread forming a big, crusty heart, crumbs and all, to demonstrate Subway’s solidarity with those going through difficult times. None of this needs to be repeated, but still—the strangeness just hits sometimes, and Subway Grocery is definitely one of those times.

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

cousinmatthewstinglingleg
Cousin Matthew's Tingling Leg

A 2-lb bag of Subway “signature soup.” I sense an “Arsenic and Old Lace” opportunity here for those being driven mad by people they are locked down with.

Can you imagine ordering Subway cold cuts and bread for home consumption, rather than being almost out of gas, patronizing a highway rest stop and while filling the tank realizing you haven’t eaten in many hours and Subway is the only option?

Just out of boredom I investigated whether it is an option for me. No, has to be within 5 miles, AND the minimum order is $45. Forty-five dollars. For $45 I could walk to my local, fortunately very well-stocked, supermarket, and buy enough good bread and top-notch cold cuts to feed myself for a week at least.

I suspect this won’t prove to be a successful pivot, but who knows.