Subway sandwich fans, brace yourselves: The store's classic $5 footlong sub looks like it's leaving the station ... possibly for good.
On Monday, Subway's CEO Trevor Haynes told USA Today that starting in September, each franchisee (Subway is 100 percent franchised) will get to decide whether they will offer the reasonably-priced sub with one of the catchiest jingles known to man or not.
After the chain brought the deal back in 2017, franchise owners complained to corporate that there wasn't enough of a margin of profit to sustain making $5 footlongs. Overall, meats like ham, roast beef and chicken are hard to cut costs on, John Gordon of the Pacific Management Consulting Group noted to USA Today.
"Those are generally more costly on a per-pound basis than the ground beef that the burger guys use, so Subway has a hard time discounting," he explained. "[Franchisees] take it in the shorts. Their average check goes down."
The $5 footlong was launched in 2004, and experienced a big spike in popularity a few years later due to the recession and clever marketing, Gordon added.
But there is good news: some franchisees may continue to offer the $5 footlong, while other customers might be able to snag a 6-inch sub for $3.99 — like they already do in San Francisco. All is not lost!
"Affordable food is what we've always stood for," said Haynes. "It's not just about one price point."
So are there any sub-stitutes on the horizon? You bet!
New sandwiches based on "regional flavors" are being tested in San Diego, California, locations, which include a Steakhouse Melt, a California Club, a Provencal Tuna Melt and an Italian Grinder. A spokesperson for the chain said hundreds of Subway stores are also testing a BBQ Pork Rib, a Pulled Pork Crunch sandwich and a Cuban-inspired sub.
Plus, piping-hot paninis are in the pipeline! They're being rolled out at select locations in California this month.
And it looks like the chain may be even start experimenting with another all-American favorite. Added Hayes, "We need to stick to what we know and do it very, very well. We can't be distracted. Burger chains are big competitors. We need to make sure we're playing in that arena, too."