Culinary innovation is an incredible force. Unfortunately it’s not always a force for the better.
Who would have ever thought pre-prepared frozen eggs, thawed and reheated, would be a dish any restaurant or fast food operation could not only promote but would be proud of.
Yesterday, I took advantage of the complimentary egg sandwich Subway Sandwiches had promoted for the past week. In a publicity advertising blitz announcing the chain’s entry into the breakfast-world wars, Subway decided to offer the free creation from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00a.m.
I have never been a fan of breakfast sandwiches in restaurants without a hood system. That’s a sure sign that the operation is preparing eggs in a less than conventional way. Subway, however, has taken unconventional to a new level.
When I opened the door to Subway, the aroma of Italian subs wafted about. The coffee station was set up in a booth complete with a table cloth, paper cups and help-yourself, air pots.
The disappointment started early.
The picture at the right is an example of how they display their eggs – triangular paper thin slices – that are stored in a refrigerated work station.
The sandwich preparation was Subway style. English muffin, cheese, egg triangle, a piece of ham and the ultimate question, “Any vegetables?”, and then it was placed in the convection oven.
Opting for a sandwich, sans vegetables, I appreciatively thanked the sandwich creator – I don’t believe subway has come up with a name for their counter employees yet- and chuckled at the printed sandwich pouch he placed it in. For some reason, the tag line, “Eat Fresh” just didn’t seem that appropriate.
I couldn’t eat the sandwich. I gave it to a Starbuck’s barista to try. Her comments are in the vault.
The point here is simple. I learned the lesson early on in my culinary trek to build a restaurant empire. I was rapidly losing money in my first venture- The Crocus Hill Market- and although I had a meat department, fabulously fresh produce, grocery delivery and a phone ordering service, I decided to take the last $5000.00 Kranston and I had and remodel one side of the store into a coffee caf?. To attempt this in the 90’s was unheard of. I was behind the eight ball and ahead of the times. Caribou Coffee had yet to launch and Starbucks Coffee was just a little Seattle Coffee company that few in
Antique booths that would make Ralph Lauren’s eyes glimmer where installed. An antique oak general store counter was refinished and elevated to work as a coffee bar. The entire room – 1200 square feet would have made Martha Stewart proud. But it till was one-shade-off. At the time, I had no clue as to what to do with a coffee caf?. The meat counter was offering hot dogs for lunch on Mondays and Meatloaf Specials on Wednesday. Through a doorway we were selling sweet rolls and coffee. I attempted to be all things to all people. My concept lost the quality and asset of creative focus. I ended up losing the investment, closing the 100 year old store I had purchased when it was on the downside of the mountain and thought about the costly lesson. Kranston and I refocused, plotted a more profitable course and eventually did find our culinary footing.
In the case of Subway, entering the breakfast wars is tragic for the chain. The product they are offering wouldn’t be bad, if they could just get rid of the eggs. Of course if they did that, they would just be a sandwich shop selling subs for lunch, dinner and late night snacks.
And who would want that success?