'Eat Fresh,' Anywhere

Subway reaches a rather nontraditional milestone

Dana Squilla, Freelance writer

MILFORD, Conn. -- Sure, you're bound to see a Subway sandwich shop in the middle of a crowded food court, across the street from your office complex or on a city street corner. But what about floating along a river, inside of a church or attached to a car wash? If you thought no, think again, because nontraditional locations are quickly becoming the norm for this popular sandwich chain.

The latest franchise location to pop up on the Subway map? Inside of a Toledo, Ohio, Chrysler and Jeep assembly plant--a milestone for the company as it marks the opening of its 8,000th nontraditional site.

What is it about the 46-year-old sandwich chain that gives it the ability to pop up almost anywhere and have the ability to succeed? Don Fertman, chief development officer, points to its flexible floor plans, minimal space and equipment requirements and crowd-pleasing menu. "In a nutshell, we are able to fit into spaces that other chains can't ... so we can go almost anywhere."

A couple of other notable spots that will take you by surprise include the True Bethel Baptist Church in Buffalo, N.Y., where the pastor is the franchisee and uses the store to teach job skills to local residents who are in need.

[image-nocss]And what may be the most unique location to date is the Subway shop fitted into a shipping-container type structure that rises (with the help of a crane) alongside the Freedom Tower in New York. As the building grows upward, so does the Subway. The purpose of this eatery is to turn out subs for hungry builders who can't spare the time to head back down to the street during work hours.

So, in painful economic times, can we expect nontraditional Subway locations to continue to pop up across the map? According to Fertman, absolutely. "It's really been in the past 10 years that the nontraditional locations have become such a significant part of our development to the point that it's now 22% of our total chain," he says. "And there are no signs of it slowing down.

"As for the company as a whole, we project to close out 2015 with 45,000 stores and by 2030 we predict 100,000 stores around the globe. There's no telling where the next one will pop up."

Pictured above: A Subway store on a riverboat cruise in Rudesheim, Germany.