SOLON— The restaurant crawl has been intentionally avoiding a trip to the Subway restaurant located in a strip mall at the edge of town. That there would be one is not surprising, although the only thing local about it is the employees and its iteration of industrial food architecture.
According to the chain’s website, Subway has 41,348 restaurants in 104 countries. It’s as popular as any, with about ten patrons when I stopped by at lunch time. Another chain restaurant had opened in a strip mall across the highway, but closed soon after the grand opening— Subway seems to have better staying power.
More than any other local eatery, Subway sits at the retail end of a processed food manufacturing supply chain. I picked a foot long sandwich for $5, and Subway is all about picking from their large stable of proprietary sandwich options. The fare is well advertised, with an ever changing menu. The current promotion is for Flatizzas, a piece of flat bread topped with tomato sauce, cheese and toppings from the sandwich bar, served like a pizza. It all looks the same to me.
Gone are the nostalgic images of the New York subway system that decorated the early stores. The dominant features were the sandwich bar, clean rest rooms and adequate table seating for guests. I noticed one of the sandwich artists changed plastic gloves twice while I was going through the line. Once after a trip to the store room to get something, and once to take money at the cash register. Like most big companies, Subway can’t afford to get on the wrong side of the public health department.
That’s really the saving grace about Subway. Because their processes are designed in a central location and trained locally, the products we buy in Solon are little different from what might be found anywhere else in the United States. Travelers want something familiar and consistent, and Subway meets that need.
I submit that the Solon Subway is no better or worse than any of its outlets worldwide. If that’s what trips your trigger, then there it is on Highway One south of town.