Subway is adding another “S” to its process of slinging scintillating submarine sandwiches: in-store slicing.
The distinctively smelling chain will now slice its sandwich meat in-store, and its meat will be batch-sliced in restaurants daily — a first for the company. The company first told Restaurant Business Online in August 2022 about its plan to add automatic slicers in all 22,000 of its restaurants and, in the time since, has started by adding them by region.
The chain’s past process was shipping pre-sliced meat to each of its locations. As recently as fall 2022, competitors like Jersey Mike’s highlighted their own in-store meat-slicing in their advertising, so Subway hopes this move sharpens its image. But unlike Jersey Mike’s, whose workers slice the meat to order, Subway's staff will batch-slice meat in the mornings and afternoons.
“As part of Subway’s ongoing transformation journey, we are rolling out deli meat slicers to restaurants across the U.S., elevating the quality of our protein offerings even further,” a Subway spokesperson tells TODAY.com. “Our goal is to have freshly sliced meats in all U.S. restaurants by summer 2023.”
On the worker side, the new slicers have been a frequent bit of discussion, at least on the r/Subway subreddit. On r/Subway, multiple posts discuss how workflow may change for employees, trepidation concerning the machines and talk on whether or not all employees will be required to operate the machines.
For its part, Subway confirms that employees must be at least 18 years old to operate slicers in all its stores, adhering to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s standards that follow the the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Subway's latest reimaging effort comes at the tail end of many changes to the 57-year-old company, including a 2021 campaign to update and strengthen its offerings called the “Eat Fresh Refresh” initiative. In July 2022, Subway announced The Subway Series, a lineup of 12 all-new signature sandwiches which can be ordered by name or number.
Subway CEO John Chidsey also told CNN last week that sales from its Subway Series menu now account for 20% of total sales. He also added that he could “see down the road” that sales could reach up to half of Subway’s business, but what he was “most excited” about were the chain’s new slicers.
“We were one of the few, if only, sub shop that didn’t slice in restaurant. Not only does it give the guest a better perception of seeing the nice, fluffy meat, but we save a lot of money since we were paying a lot of money to have it sliced upstream,” Chidsey said to CNN, adding that cost savings will be reinvested into Subway’s upcoming menu changes.
The latest improvement to its process also comes with the news that the sandwich chain has begun exploring a sale of the company which could value the sandwich chain at more than $10 billion, according to a Jan. 11 report by the Wall Street Journal.