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Big Changes Are Coming To Subway In 2024

subway employee making sub
subway employee making sub - Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

Subway was founded in the 1960s as Pete's Super Submarines, and over the decades it has become the dominant force in sandwich-based fast food. The company has tens of thousands of stores in over 100 countries across the world. At one time, Subway even boasted more locations than McDonald's, proving its international popularity. Suffice it to say, if you love fast food or even just sandwiches in general, there's a better-than-average chance you regularly eat at one of Subway's restaurants. But the next time you do, things might be a little different.

In 2024, Subway will be making some serious alterations, and there's high hope the dining experience will see vast improvements -- and in turn, so might the company's bottom line. As of press time, we're only a third of the way through the year. But already, Subway has revealed new menu items, new promotions, and new products. From a different breed of bread to a celebrity collaboration, here are some of the big changes you'll see at Subway in 2024.

Read more: Ranking Fast Food Fried Chicken Sandwiches From Worst To First

Why Changes Are Needed In 2024

Subway restaurant sign
Subway restaurant sign - John Keeble/Getty Images

While other fast food chains like McDonald's have seen continued success over the last few years, Subway has struggled. In late 2023, the company announced that it had finally gained positive growth for the first time since 2016, particularly notable after nearly a decade of challenges that led to the closure of thousands of stores. A year earlier sales were reportedly struggling mightily, with some of the chain's competitors doing twice as well per restaurant with a fraction of the number of locations.

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Even with those challenges, the company received an infusion of new energy in August 2023, when private equity firm Roark Capital shelled out over $9 billion, taking control of the sandwich king with the hopes of achieving a big turnaround. Roark isn't going in blind, however; the business has experience in the restaurant industry, having previously purchased big stakes in Dunkin', Jimmy John's, and Arby's, among others. But one of the many difficulties for Roark will be overseeing a brand overhaul, despite Subway locations being franchised and independently owned and operated. Inevitably, this has left the firm with some big decisions to make moving into 2024, some of which were already being unveiled before the calendar year turned over.

The Big Menu Changes Of 2023

subway worker making sandwich
subway worker making sandwich - MP kullimratchai/Shutterstock

Before Roark Capital swooped in to try and save Subway, the chain was already making major efforts to reverse its previous poor fortunes. Even as it was hit by a major lawsuit involving the quality of its tuna, Subway announced new master franchise agreements in the summer of 2023, including a major deal to increase its footprint in China. This came just months after introducing a slew of new menu items, new freshly-sliced meats, and several partnerships with various charities, celebrities, and sports stars.

Some of the bold new offerings in 2023 included a Baked Lays Footlong Crisp, a 12-inch crispy treat timed for National Potato Chip Day, not to mention an entirely new menu for its stores in Canada. In addition, the chain also announced an initiative to add electric vehicle charging stations at many locations. This was done with the hopes of creating a "Charging Oasis" that would provide customers with what Subway described as "charging canopies with multiple ports, picnic tables, Wi-Fi, restrooms, green space, and even playgrounds." But that's not all -- with Roark Capital's presence, even more changes are coming, starting with the Subway digital app.

The Subway App Is Changing

phone screen with food apps
phone screen with food apps - S3studio/Getty Images

There are many ways to get your food these days, from pick-up and in-house dining to standard delivery and services like Uber Eats and DoorDash through your mobile device. During the pandemic, these apps saw an explosion in use, and nearly every fast food chain has since capitalized on the digital trend. With restaurant-specific platforms, customers can order food and get special deals. Subway is no different, and in the past few years, the company has seen several important changes, including the addition of rewards points in the fall of 2023, allowing customers to earn discounts and free items with various purchases.

Likewise, the Subway app will see another big shift in 2024. In April, the company announced that it would be doing away with the existing rewards scheme, giving notice to customers that they would need to use their accumulated points by May 14 or risk losing them entirely. Subsequently, Subway announced that changes to its mobile delivery system would feature a new rewards point system exclusive to the app. Subway also said it will be doing away with physical reward cards, and the app will eventually be replaced with an entirely new, updated version.

Next-Level Bread For The Next Generation

flatbread closeup
flatbread closeup - Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

Subway had something of a bread controversy in 2020, as the Irish court decreed the chain's baked sandwich vessels weren't really bread at all. Thanks to the sugar content exceeding local limits, Subway's bread was technically deemed a confection by local experts. In 2024, Subway decided to take a stand on the matter, doubling down on quality by introducing a new specialty flatbread that could be used with any sandwich on its existing menus.

Announced in early April, this new offering is described as a lavash-style flatbread, a staple in regions like Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran. Now, it's making its first appearance at Subway. Though there was no mention of whether this new flatbread would be available for a limited time or not, outlets like Food Business News say it is expected to be a permanent part of the menu for the foreseeable future. In an official statement, Senior Vice President of culinary and innovation Paul Fabre said the development of the new flatbread was made with quality in mind. He also noted the introduction is part of a new influx of fresh menu items.

New Sandwich Items Are On The Way In 2024

closeup Subway chicken wrap
closeup Subway chicken wrap - Subway/Facebook

Thanks to the addition of Subway's new lavash-style flatbread, the restaurant now has the ingredients needed for a variety of menu options. Specifically, it allows for a style of sandwich wraps, crafted with inspiration from Middle Eastern cuisine. The four new wrap options provide a full serving of protein typically reserved for footlong sandwiches in a six-inch package.

First up is the Homestyle Chicken Salad wrap, made with rotisserie-style chicken, mayo, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion. Next is the Honey Mustard Chicken, a delectable chicken wrap with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and Monterey cheddar, doused in sweet honey mustard sauce. A third wrap, the Turkey, Bacon, & Avocado, is packed with oven-roasted turkey, loaded with crispy bacon, smashed avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, Monterey cheddar, and topped off with peppercorn ranch sauce. Last is the Cali Caprese wrap, with BelGioiso mozzarella, avocado, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, red onions, and cucumbers, topped with roasted garlic aioli and MVP brand Parmesan vinaigrette. You can read our review of these wraps here.

The Footlong Desert Menu Is Here To Stay

Subway's Sidekick Footlongs
Subway's Sidekick Footlongs - Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

Subway has long been known for its footlong savings deals, and in 2024, a big addition to that selection came in the form of footlong snacks. Introduced just after the new year, the debut of the new "Sidekicks" menu was a big hit right out of the gate. The three items -- a footlong cookie, footlong pretzel, and footlong churro -- were previously available on a limited basis, but are now here to stay. The cookie is a variation of Subway's classic chocolate chip treat, while the churro and pretzel are collaborations with other food brands. Cinnabon sponsors the former and Auntie Anne's lends its name to the latter.

It's not just a few novel tasty treats for Subway customers, but also a value meal of sorts at different price points. The footlong Sidekicks range from the $2 Cinnabon Churro to the $3 Auntie Anne's Pretzel and a full $5 footlong cookie. "The introduction of Sidekicks builds on six decades of equity and expertise in all things footlong," said President Douglas Fry in a statement revealing the items. "This whole new category on our menu offers Subway fans something they can't get anywhere else and kicks off a year of culinary innovation and delicious new menu items."

Subway Is Switching Sides In The Cola Wars

Subway sandwich with pepsi can
Subway sandwich with pepsi can - krista_freebird/Instagram

Sandwiches and snacks aren't the only changes that Subway is making to its menu in the coming months. Though it won't take full effect until January 1, 2025, the chain announced in 2024 that its entire selection of drinks will be undergoing a total overhaul, as Subway makes a new alliance in the global war for cola dominance. Beginning in 2025, Subway will be swapping Coca-Cola brand products (which includes Coke Zero, Diet Coke, Sprite, and Dasani water) for the beverages of Coke's chief rival, Pepsico.

In addition to Pepsi replacing classic Coca-Cola, Pepsi Zero Sugar, Mountain Dew, Starry, Tropicana orange juice, Lipton iced tea, and Aquafina water will also be available, as well as an optional assortment of Gatorade flavors. Subway also announced that it has renewed its deal with Frito-Lay, whose chips were already offered at most locations.

"The partnership with PepsiCo is an exciting milestone in our journey to become America's favorite place to eat, drink, and work," said President Douglas Fry in a press release. "It is a win-win for everyone, as it brings a delicious suite of beverage and snack choices to our guests, driving additional consideration of these menu items, while also providing cost-effective, streamlined solutions to our franchisees."

Major Restaurant Remodels Are Being Planned

The interior of a Subway restaurant
The interior of a Subway restaurant - Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

Making a restaurant chain successful goes beyond offering good food at good prices. There's also the matter of branding and marketing, not to mention the restaurant itself: If a store isn't appealing, clean, and tidy, customers may not be as inclined to go in and order the food. With Subway utilizing a franchise model where stores are operated by private owners, maintaining a consistent level of quality can be challenging. In fact, Subway has reportedly had a difficult relationship with its franchisees over the years. In February 2024, CEO John Chidsey laid out an ultimatum to his restaurant owners: Shape up or ship out.

"You can't continue in this restaurant world and have stores look like they're 20 years old," said Bill Mathis, chairman of the North American Association of Subway Franchisees (as reported by Restaurant Business). "People will stop coming." As a result, Mathis and Subway declared that older restaurants had to either update and remodel their stores or give up their franchises. While this is sure to rile some owners who may not want to make such a large investment, the company believes it's the right way forward if its efforts to bring back customers is to be successful.

Footlong Deals Are Becoming A Priority

A variety of Subway sandwiches
A variety of Subway sandwiches - Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

Many foodies have probably noticed over the last several years that Subway locations have been trimming back the iconic $5 footlong deals. That's because of the franchise model that Subway uses; independent restaurant owners have been getting squeezed by those deeply discounted deals as costs have risen, making them highly unprofitable. Because owners aren't contractually obligated to offer every deal and promotion that Subway makes available, more and more locations have been dropping the classic $5 footlong offer. All of that may be changing in 2024 as the new look Subway seeks tighter control over its stores.

As reported by the New York Post in December 2023, Subway's corporate managers have told franchisees to expect a major change in policy regarding discounted offers. In a notable shift, Subway will no longer make participation in those deals optional, forcing already-struggling restaurants to make those less profitable items available whenever they're told to do so.

A Big Change From 2023 May Be Reversed

Subway employee wrapping sub
Subway employee wrapping sub - Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

While Roark Capital may be making big moves to improve Subway in 2024, it's certainly not the company's first attempt at a turnaround. We've already seen the restaurant chain revamp its menu in 2023, but its attempts at major changes go beyond food. That same summer it also introduced a different method of slicing meat, providing employees with slicer machines to improve both quality and speed while saving their franchisees money.

Perhaps surprisingly, Subway corporate covered the cost of the new machinery for all of its 20,000 stores, seeing it as a cost-saving investment that would uplift the entire chain. Unfortunately, that's not quite what happened. "We haven't seen any data that says these slicers have driven sales, driven customer counts or profitability," said Bill Mathis, chairman of the North American Association of Subway Franchisees (via Restaurant Business).

Though Subway stands by the change, there have already been rumblings among franchisees that another swap of machinery may be necessary in 2024. A franchisee on Reddit even said the slicers have made sandwich-making more difficult and more expensive. If the company decides to make another change, the slicers will likely go down as another in a long line of Subway's biggest flops.

You Can Now Get Subway Sauces In Your Supermarket

Subway branded sauces
Subway branded sauces - Sara Jane Freie/Facebook

Sometimes when you're hungry, you want the flavors of your favorite fast food place at home. To satisfy customers' increasing appetite for brand-specific food, more and more restaurant chains are making their food available at grocery stores, from frozen entrees to boxed treats. Everyone from TGI Fridays to Taco Bell has joined the fun, and in late March 2024, Subway announced it would be getting in on the action too, releasing an entire selection of Subway-branded sandwich sauces.

"Subway fans love our signature sauces," said Subway Senior Vice President Paul Fabre in a press release. "Three of the new retail sauces –- Sweet Onion Teriyaki, Roasted Garlic Aioli, and Baja Chipotle –- are inspired by guests' in-restaurant favorites, and we've added an exclusive flavor to this collection with a Creamy Italian MVP, a new twist on Subway's MVP Parmesan Vinaigrette." The three new sauces are perfect to use when you're making sandwiches, pasta dishes, dips, and more.

A European Expansion Of Subway Is Underway

German Subway restaurant exterior
German Subway restaurant exterior - Tupungato/Getty Images

Subway may have struggled over the past decade and shut down thousands of stores, but we've already seen something of a turnaround as the chain has begun adding locations in the last year. Well, it isn't just expanding in the United States; in 2024 the company will be focusing abroad, with a major explosion of new locations across the European continent.

Also announced in March, Subway says it is partnering with an investment firm in Europe called the McWin Restaurant Fund SCSp, which is expected to be finalized midway through the year. When it takes effect, the two companies will kick off a bold plan to add locations in France, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, and Belgium. The deal will allow McWin to oversee the construction and franchising of these new Subway restaurants, and it will also take control of the 400 existing stores in those countries. Those stores are planned to receive upgrades and remodeling, while the broader goal is to at least double the number of Subways across the EMEA region.

A Major Meat Swap Will Happen The Great White North

chef using slicing machine
chef using slicing machine - Praphab Louilarpprasert/Shutterstock

Like most restaurants, Subway is always looking at ways to improve, from new slicers to better bread. In Canada, 2024 will see a big change in menu offerings too, but it goes beyond sandwich selections or snack options. Now, there will be a new variety of freshly sliced deli meats, including ham, turkey, pepperoni, and salami.

Said to be available for a select group of "Subway Series" sandwiches, it's worth noting that the new meats may not be available at every location in Canada. Nevertheless, Subway says the products are the key to improving the Subway experience. "We're always looking for innovative, better ways to excite and entice our guests," said Canadian Managing Director Courtney Hindorff in a press release. "We're thrilled to be the first major [Quick Service Restaurant] in Canada to offer freshly sliced meat to our guests, making each trip to Subway an even fresher, more valuable and delicious experience." The change was also announced as pairing perfectly with the chain's newly installed deli slicers.

NBA Stars Are Introducing A Whole New Menu Item

Scottie Barnes shooting a hoop
Scottie Barnes shooting a hoop - Cole Burston/Getty Images

Fast food chains love a good celebrity endorsement, whether it's a McDonald's collaboration with singer Travis Scott or Megan Thee Stallion's work with Popeye's. Subway did the same in 2021 with a campaign that featured Tom Brady, Stephen Curry, Megan Rapinoe, and Serena Williams. In 2024 it's happening again, but this time, NBA stars Scottie Barnes and Chris Boucher of the Toronto Raptors are getting involved in a new promotion for Subway in Canada.

Unlike some campaigns, these celebs aren't just putting their name on a product or commercial. Instead, the two ballers helped develop new menu items that pay homage to their Caribbean roots, including the Barnes' Jerk-Spiced Chicken Rice Bowl, which will include banana peppers and rotisserie-style chicken. Boucher's Jerk-Spiced Steak Rice Bowl brings together steak, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, and crispy onions combined with jerk aioli.

"When you think jerk chicken, you think of spices like chili peppers and allspice, which really come through in Subway's Jerk-Spiced Chicken Bowl, which pairs perfectly with the other bowl ingredients," Barnes declared in a statement.

Read the original article on Mashed