Why Did Subway Discontinue Oven Roasted Chicken

After years of declining sales, Subway is hoping to reintroduce itself to customers and convince them to give its sandwiches a shot.

Next week, Subway restaurants across the country will unveil an updated menu designed to improve items across the board. The chain says the move is the biggest menu change in its history.

The revamp includes new recipes for the chains Italian and multigrain breads, as well as new sandwich toppings.

The chain is also tweaking items already on the menu. Subways bacon, for example, will now be hickory-smoked, and its turkey and ham sliced more thinly. Its also bringing back past items like rotisserie-style chicken and roast beef. To encourage customers to try the new ingredients, thousands of restaurants plan to give away up to one million free sandwiches between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. on July 13. The chain is also updating the look of its app and partnering with DoorDash to let customers order delivery directly from the Subway app.

Some shoppers once considered Subway to be an affordable, relatively healthy option — they could load their sandwiches with their preferred mix of veggies and protein without breaking the bank. But in recent years, competition in the fast casual space has helped edge Subway out.

“We want to make a loud enough bang … to draw those people back to give us another look,” Subway CEO John Chidsey told CNN Business.

With the new menu, Subway is courting those customers and hoping to please its franchise operators.

According to the foodservice research and consultant firm Technomic, sales at Subways U.S. locations have been falling in recent years. System-wide sales at Subways U.S. locations were $12.3 billion in 2013, which was its best year of the past 15, and about $8.3 billion in 2020, according to Technomics analysis.

In response to a request for comment on those numbers, Trevor Haynes, Subways president for North America, said in an emailed statement that “Subway is a privately held company and does not publicly disclose sales figures.” He added that “for the first half of 2021, on average sales are doing well compared to 2019, pre-pandemic levels.”

When Subway first rose to prominence, it “owned” customization, said Robert Byrne, director of consumer and industry insights at Technomic. But the rise of fast casual made customization the norm. Now, customers can build their own burritos, salads, sandwiches or bowls, making competition in the space fierce. As more restaurants offer custom options, “we want to continue to … dominate that space,” said Chidsey.

With that in mind, the company decided to “focus on raising the quality of the core ingredients, since with those core ingredients you can make almost an infinite number of sandwich combinations,” Chidsey said.

Its not just about customization. “Perceptions of health and what is healthy [have] evolved,” said Byrne. “From an ingredient standpoint, I know consumers would love to hear a little bit more about the sourcing.”

Recently, questions have been raised about Subways tuna — a lawsuit alleged that Subways tuna sandwich is not actually made with the fish. The suit has since been amended to allege that the tuna Subway uses is not made with 100% tuna and does not always use skipjack or yellowfin tuna. Subway called the original lawsuit “meritless,” and said that “the new claims are untrue,” adding that “the lawsuit constitutes a reckless and improper attack on Subways brand.”

Subway is still proudly serving the product, saying that “the 100% wild-caught tuna remains a fan favorite among sub lovers.”

The refresh also has the possible benefit of pleasing franchise operators, some of whom have been clamoring for changes.

One metric of the updates success is a “re-energized franchisee community,” said Chidsey. “Its important for us internally.” Franchisees have also been calling for more menu innovation, he said.

Some Subway franchise operators have complained publicly about the companys treatment of them. In April, an anonymous group of “concerned franchisees” wrote an open letter to Elisabeth DeLuca, a co-owner of the chain. The Subway dream “has turned into a nightmare,” they said, writing that Subway hurt their business by franchising new locations nearby or shutting down stores for minor infractions, among other things. In a separate letter, they complained of high franchise fees. Subways franchise fees are “competitive,” said Trevor Haynes, Subways president for North America, in an emailed statement.

“There are still a few people who are disgruntled about the past,” Chidsey said, in reference to the franchisees complaints. “But I would think that if you talk to the vast majority of our franchisees, theyd say weve had a hell of a six-month run,” he said, suggesting that the higher sales are encouraging to franchise operators. “Things are improving rather dramatically.” He added that the chain is focused on growing sales rather than the number of Subway restaurants in the United States.

Aligning franchise operators with the corporate team is essential for the company to turn around, noted Technomics Byrne. “I dont think they can do anything until those two groups get on the same page.”

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After years of declining sales, Subway is hoping to reintroduce itself to customers and convince them to give its sandwiches a shot.

Customers and franchisees have questioned Subway’s strategy

Subway was among many restaurant chains like McDonalds, Panda Express, and Taco Bell that trimmed menu items during the early days of the pandemic.

But when restrictions lifted in various parts of the US, Subway operators wanted to bring back the two sandwiches to appease consumers, who were demanding the return of the two premium subs on social media.

“The customer reaction was horrendous,” the franchisee said. “People were pissed off that those two items were gone. You would think that they would bring them back faster, but they didnt. But finally, this year, they said they are bringing them back.”

“I wont eat at Subway again until they bring back Roast beef,” reads one recent comment on Subways Facebook page. “I thought it was a temporary thing but the restaurant I was at today said it was a forever thing. So I said thats the stupidest thing I heard today. I canceled my order and walked out.”

The decision to ditch rotisserie chicken and roast beef is not the only strategy that franchisees say has come from the top without support from the operators that own 100% of Subway locations across the US.

Last June, many franchisees refused to participate in a heavily-hyped two-for-$10 sandwich deal. Franchisees told Insider they have also pushed back on the companys decision to require stores to pre-pandemic hours of operation, despite sales slumps and difficulty staffing locations.

Some franchisees blame CEO John Chidsey, who was hired in November 2019, for the top-down approach.

“He doesnt really communicate well with franchisees,” a second franchisee told Insider. This source also asked to remain anonymous as this person was not authorized by the company to speak to the press. “Its obvious that he thinks franchisees are his employees.”

A Subway representative said in a statement to Insider that franchisees “are an important and influential part of our business.”

“We encourage and maintain an open line of communication with our franchise investors to drive long-term growth and evolve our business together, which has recently included navigating through a global pandemic and changes to our menu,” the company said in a statement. “We listen closely to feedback from both franchisees and guests as we continue to grow and transform.”

Are you a Subway franchisee or employee with a story to share? Email [email protected] and [email protected], or get in touch via the Signal encrypted messenger app at (646) 768-4740 or (714) 875-6218

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Some tweets are from Subway employees (or so they claim to be) and suggest that the meat price is too high to purchase at the moment. We’re not sure what the reason is, exactly, but if Subway wants to keep customers happy and coming back, they need to think of another, better promotion.

When fast-food chain Subway decided to remove the rotisserie chicken sandwich and the roast beef sandwich from its menu last year, customers and even operators were baffled by the decision. According to some employees, the rotisserie chicken sandwich was, in fact, one of the chains top-selling items, so the decision to discontinue it while keeping some less popular items on the menu seemed odd.

The sandwiches were removed from menus in June, and while an official reason was never given for the move, the fact that rotisserie chicken and roast beef were two of the most expensive proteins on Subways menu may have had something to do with it, according to Business Insider.

In the wake of months of complaints and requests to bring one or both items back, many in the form of Tweets aimed at the chain, Subway has finally relented. The chain confirmed that the sandwiches will be returning to their restaurants this summer. Franchise owners are hoping their return will quell what one owner called “horrendous” customer reaction to the menu changes last year.

At present, Subway has 15 sandwiches on its menu along with 15 “Signature Wraps,” though some of the menu items are temporary, such as the Bacon Tatum sandwich, named for NBA star Jason Tatum, according to Chew Boom.6254a4d1642c605c54bf1cab17d50f1e

While the roast beef and rotisserie chicken sandwiches are the favorites of many, neither tops the list of the best Subway sandwiches on any of more than half a dozen reviews surveyed for this article. A ranking of Subway sandwiches by Mashed declared the Spicy Italian “the best sandwich sold at Subway.” Thrillist and Time Out also called the Spicy Italian sandwich the best one on offer, while Urban Matter chose the classic Turkey Breast as their top pick.


Why did Subway get rid of their oven roasted chicken?

“They got rid of them because they were the two most expensive proteins that we have on the menu,” the franchisee said. (This franchisee asked to remain anonymous as this person was not authorized by the company to speak on the decision, but the source’s identity is known to Insider.)

Is Subway bringing back rotisserie chicken?

The popular sandwiches were removed from the menu in June. When fast-food chain Subway decided to remove the rotisserie chicken sandwich and the roast beef sandwich from its menu last year, customers and even operators were baffled by the decision.

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