Operating under the principle that melted cheese makes everything better, Subway decided to introduce new melt sandwiches to help shore up its sagging fortunes. And so, with great fanfare, Subway Fresh Melts made their debut this week in three classic varieties: tuna, ham and cheese, and steak and cheese.
But there was not the joy across the land that Subway execs had hoped for. Instead, there was a full-fledged uprising, not from the people, but from the Subway franchise owners. In a letter to corporate headquarters, the North American Association of Subway Franchisees, or NAASF, announced that, while it appreciated Subway’s decision to start selling higher-priced premium sandwiches, which could improve profits, it could not endorse the new Fresh Melts because making them put employees in danger. The sandwiches come in bags, which the employees have to put in the toaster by hand, putting them at risk for burns. Furthermore, the melting cheese damages the toasters themselves.
“NAASF cannot endorse this promotion under these circumstances,” the association said in a “franchisee warning notice” sent to its members and reprinted by Restaurant Business. “We are hopeful that [Franchise World Headquarters] will confront these issues immediately and allow us the opportunity to stand with them and endorse this promotion.... The majority of the significant issues to this point have either been ignored or met with ‘we are working on it’ as responses.”
Restaurant Business contacted Subway’s Franchise World Headquarters, which defended its decision to introduce the new melts in an emailed statement: “In addition to providing extensive training materials, a standard protocol is to thoroughly test all new products and innovations and make operational and equipment adjustments as needed, ensuring that our franchisees and hard-working sandwich artists are able to safely and consistently execute a quality meal that guests expect.” (Translation: Subway employees are encouraged to use tongs or a paddle to put the sandwiches in the toaster.) Matters remain at a deadlock. But maybe, in this case, melted cheese is not the answer.