Mediocre chain-restaurant sandwich lovers at UC Irvine rejoiced last month when Subway opened inside BC’s Cavern on the Green. UCI Dining, which operates Subway, gave away a year’s supply of footlongs (one sandwich a week) to the first 50 customers in line during its grand opening event on March 2.
The immediate impact of Subway is not only affecting students’ palates, but also other campus eatery options. The main food court portion of BC’s, which serves standard cafeteria burgers, wraps, Tex-Mex cuisine and the like, has seen shorter lines while the queue at Subway winds out the door. Quiznos, Subway’s arch-nemesis and a veteran of UCI’s Student Center food court, has seen its lines dwindle dramatically in the first couple of weeks since Subway opened its doors for business.
Workers at Quiznos did not seem too worried and they predicted that the lines would even back out once the new sheen and hoopla of Subway wore off. This begs the all-important debate: who will reign king over campus sub sandwiches? Should students “Eat Fresh” or stay “Mmmm…toasty”? Let the pivotal battle begin!
Starting with the meat, Quiznos has long marketed itself as having higher quality ingredients than Subway. When it comes to the chicken, this is indeed the case. Quiznos chicken chunks have a nice texture, and are neither overly dry nor too chewy.
Some bites are a bit too stringy, but overall the meat quality at Quiznos is quite satisfactory. Meanwhile, at Subway, stay away from the chicken options. The Oven Roasted Chicken sandwich features chicken that comes in a weird slab which tastes processed and fake. Meanwhile, the chunks on the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki are overly saturated in sauce, causing the chicken to lose its natural qualities.
As for the bread, probably the second most important factor in a quality sandwich, Subway easily wins with an array of choices such as Italian Herbs and Cheese, Honey Oat and Jalapeno Cheese in addition to all the usual suspects. Meanwhile, Quiznos is limited to four choices, the most creative ones being Rosemary Parmesan or Italian Herb. At Subway you have the choice of having your bread toasted or not, while Quiznos, as protocol, puts your sandwich through their special toaster belt. So for those who like their bread softer and colder, Subway may be the better food choice as well.
Subway’s $5 footlong advertising campaign has burned the “five dollar footlong” song in everyone’s minds, unfortunately, but few know that Quiznos has matched their competitor and started offering $5 behemoth subs of their own.
In somewhat of an upset, Quiznos $5 options are actually more diverse than Subway. Since the campus Quiznos expanded to a full menu this year, the large (equivalent to a Subway footlong) Buffalo Chicken, Oven-Roasted Turkey, Honey-Cured Ham,
Roast Beef and Caprese sandwiches are available for just $5. Meanwhile, the Subway on campus only offers Meatball Marinara, Cold Cut Trio, Veggie Delite, Black Forest Ham, BLT and a special $5 special of the month, which is Meatball Pepperoni for March. In other words, Subway offers no chicken, turkey or roast beef options in its $5 footlongs, three crucial meats that one can get at Quiznos for the same price.
Meanwhile, Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki costs $6 for a footlong, $4 for the six-inch, and Roast Beef inexplicably groups in the “Selects” section meaning a $6.50 footlong price tag, $4.75 for a six-inch! In other words, Subway’s “six grams of fat or less” and “Jared diet” marketing is largely irrelevant when it makes so much more sense to get a footlong — who’s going to stop eating a footlong only half way in? Although Quiznos imitates Subway with its classics, only offering “large” and “half” (also costing around $4), the rest of their sandwiches have a convenient “regular” choice that is about nine inches.
This comes in handy for those who feel gypped by ordering the six-inch, but cannot fully eat a footlong in one sitting. The “regular” option at Quiznos presents the perfect alternative. For a Mesquite Chicken sandwich, one of the most popular choices, this costs you a decent $6 plus tax. For the increase in meat, decrease in gluttony and unnecessary calorie intake and overall quality and diversity of ingredients, this is worth it. The $5 options are much simpler, and while they simply lack the subtle touches that make a sandwich great, they get the job done.
In terms of friendliness and customer service, both Quiznos and Subway on campus seemed to have cheerful and personable workers. However, at Quiznos at 1:30 p.m. on a Tuesday last week, there were a total of three workers who could take their time in serving their customers. Meanwhile, 10 Subway workers were crammed in the narrow corridor of the assembly line, frantically trying to move a sandwich down the line.
Subway is overall more catered toward personalizing your sandwich, with everything directly up to the customer. The assembly line process means that the sandwich buyer remains actively engaged in his or her sandwich. Even if the workers are somewhat inefficient in getting your orders right, Subway can pride itself in its flexibility. Meanwhile, at Quiznos, workers seem more set on a rigid recipe and unaccustomed to requested adjustments. The big toaster in between the two employees who help build your sandwich leads to occasional communication problems as well.
One last issue that seems minute in nature, but quite possibly Quiznos greatest drawback — their sandwich sleeves. Unlike Subway, which nicely wraps your meal, Quiznos innovators decided to create a sleeve/bag that results in Quiznos sandwiches that are not tightly held together. It is very sloppy and difficult to eat until you “peel” back the “zipper” on the bottom of the bag, a perforated strip that leads to the sleeve becoming a place mat. The only problem is that this zipper is on the bottom of the bag, making it very difficult to unzip while you have a long sandwich sitting in the bag, lettuce falling out everywhere, the whole thing threatening to unravel.
In the end, Quiznos is the option that makes more sense on paper. Take advantage of those short lines while you can!