Would You Hang Out at Subway? Chain Tries Café Concept

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Rumor has it that this whole Starbucks model of doing business works. And Subway has taken notice, testing out an upscale Subway Café concept.As Starbucks jumped past Burger King and Wendy’s into third-place in the domestic restaurant retail giant race (based on 2010 total sales), the number-two chain on the list, Subway, doesn’t want to lose any ground.

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And with McDonald’s—obviously the list’s top chain—already trying out an upscale approach, Subway has to get on board too. The sandwich franchise launched its own personalized model recently with 15 locations and hopes to add another 10 yet this year, giving office complexes a higher-end option to the usual fare.

To keep a handle on the branding, Subway features brick or wood-paneled walls in all café locations, comfy seats, new lighting and even an occasional fireplace. This doesn’t sound like a coffee shop at all, does it?

Subway will beef up its average store size to open up space for that coffee-crowd flood. Of course, an increased array of Seattle’s Best coffee offerings that include espresso drinks, lattes and frozen blended beverages might help too. To keep in the vein of high-end coffee, expect baked goods as a highlight to a more embellished menu. Jared must be so proud.

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