Subway's main operations office is in Milford, Connecticut, and five regional centers support Subway's growing international operations. The regional offices for the European stores is located in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Australia and New Zealand are supported from Brisbane, Australia, the Middle Eastern locations are supported from offices located in Beirut, Lebanon, the Asian locations from Singapore, and the Latin America support center is in Miami, Florida. In the UK and Ireland the company hopes to expand to 2,010 restaurants by the year 2010.
Many restaurant analysts attribute Subway's fast growth to the growing concern on health by restaurant customers, a trend that Subway has taken advantage of in its marketing. In 1999, an Indiana University student named Jared Fogle lost 245 pounds (110 kg) with a diet made up mostly of Subway sandwiches combined with exercise. The story is used by Subway as a large part of their marketing campaign to this day. Jared has emerged as a spokesperson for Subway, furthering their image as a health-conscious restaurant chain.
Fred De Luca borrowed $1,000 from family friend Peter Buck to start his first sandwich shop in 1965, when he was only 17 years old. He was trying to raise money to pay for college. He chose a mediocre location for his shop, but by noon on the first day of the opening, customers were pouring in. On the radio advertisement they had promoted the name as "Pete's Submarines", which sounded like Pizza Marines, so they changed the name to "Pete's Subway"; eventually it was shortened to "Subway", as it is known to this day. As of June 2nd, 2008, the company has 29,546 franchised locations in 87 countries and produces US$9.05 billion sales every year. In 2007, Forbes magazine named De Luca number 242 of the 400 richest Americans with a net worth of $1.5 billion.
In addition to traditional restaurants, Subway operates in many non-traditional locations. For instance, there are over 900 Subway locations inside of Wal-Mart stores and 200 on military bases, including several in Iraq, in addition to three located inside The Pentagon - as well as an increasing number on college and university campuses.
Subway restaurants has been consistently ranked in Entrepreneur Magazine's Top 500 Franchises, and was selected as the #2 overall franchise in 2008. Additionally, it was ranked as the #3 "Fastest Growing Franchise", and the #1 "Global Franchise" as well.
Subway's main products are sandwiches called "subs".
In 2000, Subway added seasoned breads and a line of specialty items to its menu and in 2003, most Subway markets switched their beverage contracts to supply Coca-Cola products exclusively, having previously left it up to the individual market to decide whether to serve Coke or Pepsi.
In order to ink the current deal with Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola helped pay for the initial rollout of toaster ovens to all existing restaurants in North America. Subway gave customers the option to have their sandwiches toasted in response to increased competition from a rival sandwich chain, Quiznos Sub, which popularized toasted submarine sandwiches. In Australia, the introduction of Fresh Toasting enabled the Subway Franchise to prevent Quiznos from gaining market share. The TurboChef and Merrychef toaster ovens are a microwave and convection oven hybrid. The deal with Coca-Cola led to Quiznos switching to Pepsi chain wide, except in Canada.
Subway menus vary by store, by country and by market. These are considered COP (country optional program), SOP (store optional program), MOP (market only program) — in Muslim countries omitting ham and other pork cold cuts — but retain core items which are included at every store. The main food sold by the store is Submarine sandwiches, sold in "Six-inch", "Footlong", and the new four inch "MiniSub" sizes. All Subway stores offer customers lettuce, tomato, onions, bell peppers, cucumbers, olives, jalapeños and pickles, as well as market selected options such as carrot, corn, radish and avocado. Like other fast-food restaurants, they offer "limited time offers" or LTO from time to time. In addition to their standard menu, Subway also offers catering for all types of occasions. They offer "Giant Subs", which are a minimum of three feet long, and also offer a sandwich platter. These giant sandwiches can be ordered in bulk and to nearly any specification, something which Subway has promoted as a part of their campaign to tailor every sandwich to the individual customer's taste.
In 2006, the first kosher Subway restaurant in the United States opened in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. Fogle, who is Jewish, was in attendance at the opening. "With slight modifications, such as no pork-based products, and the use of soy-based cheese, the menu is virtually identical to that of any other Subway restaurant." . Since then, kosher Subways have opened in New York, Los Angeles, Kansas City, and Baltimore and plans have been announced for Milwaukee, Boston, and one inside the JCC in West Bloomfield, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. Some of these locations serve soy cheese, but most don't serve any form of cheese at all.
All Subway restaurants in Muslim countries serve a halal menu. There are also at least two Subway restaurants in the United States that do the same, and a growing number in the United Kingdom. The success of these stores has been mixed, but the company will open more halal stores anyway.
Subway also offers items other than sandwiches; breakfast items include such baked goods as bagels, egg & sausage sandwiches, and as of July and August 2006, "personal pizzas" are available in select markets to their menu. The personal pizzas are made upon order (as with their sandwiches) and heated "in less than 90 seconds" (cooking for 85 seconds) as advertised on televised commercials. Breakfast and pizza items are only available in some stores. Most stores offer additional toppings upon request.
In 2008, Subway began to offer "Five Dollar Foot-long" submarine sandwiches in the United States as a limited time only promotion. The fanatical response however, prompted Subway to make a "Five Dollar Foot-long Everyday Value Menu" that includes 8 footlong sandwiches (Spicy Italian, Cold Cut Combo, Tuna, BLT, Black Forest Ham, Meatball, Veggie Delite & Oven Roasted Chicken) as a permanent menu item.
The book blames the "Development Agents" who are given the task of growing the company regionally. They retain a percentage of the franchise fee for their local area, and so it is in their best interest to saturate markets with Subway restaurants in a region, despite the effect it will have on that region's Subway locations. Although this may lead to lower profits per Subway location, it leads to overall higher profits in the region, and therefore higher profits for the entire chain and the Development Agent.
On February 2, 2007 KNXV-TV with the help of the Arizona Department of Weights and Measures, reported that three Subway sandwiches, nominally each long, were only , , and long. The maximum variance in length allowed in that state is 3%, which on a 3-foot sub is . Upon further study, the report showed that the box designed to store Subway's 3-foot sandwiches were only in length; shorter than the maximum allowable variance. In response to the report, Subway stated that they are currently in the process of reevaluating their advertising, promotional, training and packaging materials with regard to the specific or implied length of Giant Subs and are taking steps to advise their franchisees to only discuss with customers the approximate number of expected servings and not a specific length of measurement.
SFAFT is in legal battles with Subway over their excessive spending of advertising funds on things other than advertising.