The pastor of True Bethel Baptist Church in Buffalo, N.Y., serves up more than a possible path to salvation. He’s also serving up sandwiches and job skills training through the franchised Subway restaurant integrated into his congregation’s house of worship.
According to Subway, True Bethel’s franchised restaurant is one of 8,000 “non-traditional” locations worldwide fielded by the chain based in Milford, Conn., which has nearly 35,000 units globally, including 24,299 in the United States.
Officials of Doctor’s Associates, the parent of the 100-percent franchised chain, said the system’s non-traditional offerings are located within a diverse group of sites, including airports; bus and railroad terminals; athletic facilities; casinos; colleges and universities; and convenience, grocery and department stores. Non-traditional restaurants are also found in convention centers, factories, hospitals, hotels, military bases, office buildings, parks and recreational facilities, schools, stadiums and theaters.
“Because of the Subway concept’s flexible floor plans, minimal space, and equipment requirements and popular menu offerings, Subway restaurants are uniquely suited for these special sites, which are an integral part of our overall growth and ongoing development strategy, and have been a large contributor to our record-breaking 137 months of consecutive positive growth,” Don Fertman, Subway’s chief development officer, said in a written statement released when the chain recently reached 8,000 non-traditional stores.
Fertman said the chain’s embrace of non-traditional locations not only provides an “increasing number of business opportunities to new and existing franchises,” but also helps “[host] business owners and facility managers attract and retain customers and employees.”
Among the most unique non-traditional Subway restaurants is the one serving construction workers at 1 World Trade Center in New York, formerly known as the Freedom Tower. The mobile-home-like establishment is hoisted upward with the addition of each new building floor, and may ultimately rise 105 stories.
The Subway unit in Detroit’s Central High School is unique not only because it’s within a school, but for its role in the education process. Students in a business class run the school, and they can qualify for college credits by taking online University of Subway training and development classes, Subway spokesman Les Winograd said.
Non-traditional locations represent about 20 percent of the system’s locations and generate about 20 percent of its sales, Subway said. And while that suggests that non-traditional units are, as a whole, average in performance compared with the rest of the chain, Winograd noted that the reduced size, limited menus, hours or seasonal nature of many of those restaurants confirms some star sales performers within their ranks.
Documents provided by Subway on estimated expenses for opening and operating a restaurant in the first three months indicate that non-traditional restaurants may have start-up and initial operating costs from $84,300 to $200,100. Comparable expenses for a conventional Subway unit may range from $114,800 to $258,300, the chain indicated.
— Alan J. Liddle