Off the Menu: Subway reshapes brand with ‘Eat Fresh, Refresh’

The on-going “Eat Fresh, Refresh” initiative that Subway, the Milford, Connecticut-based sandwich chain, has been pursuing over the last year is reshaping that brand while at the same time garnering industry-wide recognition and praise.

Earlier this month the latest phase of the “Eat Fresh, Refresh” program was introduced; it features 12 new chef-designed sandwich options that Subway is calling the “Subway Series.” In addition to offering new eating experiences, this latest “Eat Fresh” rollout, which the brand is calling “a whole new way to Subway,” represents a subtle yet significant shift in the chain’s approach to building sandwiches and serving customers.

The new sandwiches, which incorporate the “improved-quality” ingredients that Subway has introduced over the last twelve months, are divided into four categories — Italianos, Cheesesteaks, Chicken, and Clubs.

The Italian lineup includes creations like the “The Boss.” Served on toasted Italian Herb & Cheese bread, it’s a meatball sandwich further enhanced with pepperoni and fresh mozzarella.

As part of the Subway Series “Cheesesteak” options, Subway has introduced “The Monster,” a sandwich build that includes shaved steak, bacon, red onions, sliced ​​bell peppers, and a double layering of Monterey Jack cheese.

Rotisserie chicken is the main protein component in “The Great Garlic,” where the chicken is teamed up with bacon, provolone, lettuce, tomatoes, and red onion. The sandwich includes the only “new” ingredient used in the Subway Series — a roasted garlic aioli spread.

A deliberate impact of this new sandwich lineup on the way Subway locations do business is to downplay the traditional “build-it-your-way” approach Subway pioneered in favor of “pre-curated” options like the Subway Series.

Subway’s product development people say that the sandwiches were specifically designed to have broad appeal and thereby require less customization at the time of assembly. Subway Series menu boards are now set up to encourage customers to order items by name or number, and although swapping out sandwich ingredients is permitted, it’s not encouraged.

While conducting in-store testing, Subway has discovered that a large number of customers order the new sandwiches “as is,” a shift in operations that reduces sandwich assembly times while also simplifying training and increasing employee productivity. Subway, therefore, is keen on further emphasis on “curated” sandwich options.

The chef-designed Subway Series sandwiches, Subway executives claim, also score higher on customer satisfaction surveys than do the typical customer-specified sandwich builds.

To introduce and promote the Subway Series sandwiches, participating Subway locations are giving away up to 50 six-inch subs from the new Series lineup from 10 am to 12 pm on July 12, the first anniversary of the original “Eat Fresh, Refresh” rollout . The chain expects to distribute up to a million free sandwich samples that day.

Go to Subway.com for more information on the Subway Series and contact your local Subway shop to verify participation in the sandwich giveaway.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store locations have recently enhanced their morning food offerings by introducing a Build Your Own Homestyle Breakfast. Guests can choose from eggs, grits, and a choice of breakfast meats that includes plant-based and spicy chicken sausage options.

Cracker Barrel’s fried apples and hashbrown casserole are also side order options within the Build Your Own deal.

Also new on the menu is a Stuffed Cheesecake Pancake Breakfast that features pancakes stuffed with cheesecake filling, topped with seasonal fruit, and served with strawberry syrup. Two eggs and a choice of bacon or sausage is also included with the breakfast.

There are Cracker Barrel Old Country Store locations in Holyoke at Ingleside and in Sturbridge on Route 20.

The Brass Rail Meeting House in Southwick is currently featuring a server-assisted brunch buffet every Sunday. With seatings available from 10:30 am until 1:30 pm, the brunch lineup incorporates a DIY waffle bar, quiche, French toast, and eggs Benedict as well as luncheon-style options. The latter include a fresh catch of the day and a chicken entree as well as a selection of side dishes, homemade soup, desserts, and beverages.

On Sunday, July 17, kids can enjoy brunch for free at The Brass Rail, with up to two kids per paying adult qualifying for the deal. In addition to the regular menu selections, the brunch will feature kid-friendly items such as hot dogs, mac & cheese, and chicken tenders.

The kids eat free deal is an once-a-month occasion at the Brass Rail this summer.

Brunch reservations can be made by calling the Brass Rail at (413) 569-9585 or going online to the venue’s website, brassrailmeetinghouse.com.

Outback Steakhouse locations are celebrating the summer season with a new Strawberry Salad. Based on a blend of arugula and Romaine lettuce, the salad is garnished with fresh strawberries, spiced pecans, and goat cheese crumbles. A raspberry vinaigrette is the default dressing option.

A limited-time-only menu offering, the salad is available as a side dish or can be reconfigured into an entree by the addition of grilled or crispy chicken.

There are Outback Steakhouse locations on Riverdale Street in West Springfield and on Southbridge Street in Auburn.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, NYC Restaurant Week kicks off on Monday, July 18 and runs through Sunday, Aug. 21.

Participating eateries across the city’s five boroughs are offering special menus-two courses at lunch and three at dinner — at three price points — $30, $45, and $60. In celebration of the Week’s 30th, some restaurants are also offering a special $30 bottle of wine to go with dinner.

Over 600 restaurants are participating in this year’s Restaurant Week lineup, including 14 establishments that took part in the original restaurant week back in 1992.

As is customary, Saturdays are excluded from the Restaurant Week schedule, and Sunday participation is at the option of individual establishments.

MasterCard is sponsoring this year’s NYC Restaurant Week, and MasterCard cardholders can pre-register to receive a $10 statement credit on each transaction of $45 or more while dining at NYC Restaurant Week locations through July 31. Go to the MasterCard website, priceless.com, for details and limitations on this promotional offer.

More information about NYC Restaurant Week, as well as a complete database of participating restaurants, can be found at nycgo.com/restaurantweek.

This Sunday, July 17, the Miss Florence Diner in Florence will be featuring live acoustical music during brunch. Party of Two, the vocal and instrumental duo of Keri Klee and Andrew Banas, will be performing from 11 am to 2 pm, with the Diner’s regular brunch menu available at that time.

Contact the Miss Florence Diner at (413) 584-3137 for details.

The Belchertown Cultural Council will be sponsoring a Food Truck Friday on July 15 from 4 pm until 8 pm To be held on the Belchertown Town Common, the gathering will feature a selection of food trucks such as Thai Chili, Rooster’s Roaming Cantina, and Batch Ice Cream. Live music will contribute to the fun.

For more information contact the Belchertown Cultural Council at (413) 813-5207.

This July McDonald’s USA LLC, the domestic operating division of the global burger chain, has organized a virtual summer camp.

Camp McDonald’s is, according to the company, “an epic lineup of food deals, menu hacks, merch collabs and music performances by some of the hottest artists.”

The Camp, which can only be accessed through the McDonald’s smartphone app, includes a schedule of special food promotions throughout the month-long camp session as well as “insider” tips on creating “secret menu” items that are mashups of standard McDonald’s fare.

A full schedule of Camp McDonald’s activities and deals, as well as a download link for the McDonald’s app, can be found online at McDonalds.com.

Table 3 Executive Chef Enrico Giovanello will be hosting his second patio dinner of the summer season on Wednesday, July 27, at 6 pm

The event, which will be held at The Collection at Wight Farm in Sturbridge, will feature a New England clambake menu. Cost to attend is $65, an amount that does not include either taxes or gratuity.

Patio dinners are served outside, but arrangements to move the experience indoors are in place should the weather not cooperate.

Reservations are required and can be made by calling (774) 241-8450.

Hugh Robert is a faculty member in Holyoke Community College’s hospitality and culinary arts program and has more than 45 years of restaurant and educational experience. Robert can be reached online at OffTheMenuGuy@aol.com.

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