PolySciFi Blog

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


The Sub Rule

No one has ever convinced me that working in the fast and medium-speed food services is particularly difficult. Perhaps those of you who have done it can enlighten me in terms of a particularly cute experience I had today.

I like Quizno's subs. For me, they are sufficiently superior to most Subway subs that I don't mind the additional cost. I've decided that I like toasted subs, but that I don't like the way that Subway toasts their subs.

I am quite partial to Quizno's Mesquite Chicken with Bacon sub. It's pretty standard fare - mesquite chicken, bacon (surprise, surprise). lettuce, tomatoes, (I always get extra tomatoes on mine), red onions, and ranch dressing. Note the central ingredients: Chicken. Bacon. Ranch.

Putting aside the issue of just how tasty it is to eat two different kinds of animal on the same sub, I'll point out that it follow's what I will now call Jody's sub rule - that is, the name of the sub makes it quite self explanatory as to what you're getting for your money.

Here it is worth mentioning that Blacksburg hasn't been particularly kind to the sandwich places that have tried to find fertile purchase on College Avenue. I would say that Extreme Pita (where I never found the food to be worth the cost) went down in ignominy, except that Touchdown Subs went down in even more ignominy. They went out of business in a few months - before I even had a chance to try their overpriced food.

Now there's a new place whose name I can't remember. Jody ate there once, and came away with the complaint that inspired the sub rule. They apparently use unnecessary embellishment and failed humor to extend the description of their subs out to six or so lines. He posits that if you're not good enough to describe your subs in a few words, then you're on your way out of business. It should be about the food, and not what you might have to say about the food.

And I agree...well, maybe not as much as I did before.

I went to Quizno's today. I got to the counter, thought for a minute, and ordered the same thing I always get. (Variety? Bah!) Except that when I placed the order, I ordered a "Chicken Bacon Ranch."

Now despite the fact that I'd clearly communicated what I wanted on the sub, the woman at the counter looked at me and said "I think that's at Subway."

This is bad on two levels.

First, the corrollary to the sub rule is that if you tell the person behind the counter what you want on your sub, and they have the stuff that you want, then they should be able to make your sub without any problem. Giving a sub a simple name that tells exactly what you like on the sub should dispel any confusion as to what should go on said sub.

Now had I walked into Quizno's and asked for a "Ricochet Rabbit" - that's a sandwich at Macado's that is essentially a Mesquite Chicken with Bacon, except it's served on a bagel - that would be totally different. But Macado's can get away with giving the sandwiches personality-laden but totally undescriptive names because a) they've been in business long enough to be a fixture, and b) they have a listing of the sandwich toppings that they have, so someone could easily "build" his own sandwich by stating what they want on it.

When the woman behind the counter inadvertently tried to tell me that they didn't have the sub that I wanted and that I knew was on the menu, I was a new resident of the state of confusion. I had to scan the menu with some annoyance to find out where my sandwich was. And besides being annoyed, the fact that she didn't just make the sandwich I wanted consumed time, energy, and sanity - three things that I have in short supply.

Now as if this weren't bad enough (and I'm looking for you people who have been on the back side of the counter to confirm this) it occurs to me that one thing you should never do is to mention the competition in a manner that sells their product. What would she have done if I'd said "Oh, yeah. You're right." and then walked out of the door to go to Subway - that is, aside from being directly responsible for the loss of a sale and for a sale going to the competition? Isn't that something that they'd teach you on day 1 of Quizno 101?

Anyway, I got my sub. And it was delicious. Mmmmmm...meat.


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