Even though I consider myself an avid foodie, I don’t write about it that much (except on Yelp). Most Friday’s I usually get a big lunch, either at Oasis Cafe, or Khyber Pass, or something else the office decides on. Today everybody in the office was busy, so I ventured out to Subway.
I wandered in and had my sights set on an advertisement on the outside of the store for a new “Orchard Chicken Salad”, but as I got up to the front of the line a new advertisement crossed my path. Subway was now offering a new “Falafel” sandwich, so I snapped a picture on my blackberry so I could chat it up later on Twitter and Facebook. I just have to say that I LOVE falafel, however I had a falafel sandwich the day before, so I really wasn’t in the mood. I was at the register paying for my chicken salad when I was approached by a man (Ed Zaibak) and he asked, “Did you just take a picture of that ad?”
A little confused and cautious, I answered, “Yes.” He then handed me $5 and told me that he wanted me to try the sandwich. It turns out that Ed helped Subway develop and test market the sandwich. I went back, waited for them to make my falafel sandwich (I ordered it exactly as pictured), and then unwrapped it and took a bite.
It was way better than I had expected. It had all the flavor, and also a cool, creamy cucumber sauce (say that five times fast). The cucumber sauce was great, it paired well with the falafel, and had so much distinct flavor that I didn’t notice the absence of tahini and hummus. The only complaint that I have is that the falafel were pre-fried, then microwaved, which made them a bit mushy. I know subway doesn’t have deep fryers, so getting a “fresh” falafel is out of the question, but I wonder if they could somehow use the toaster to re-heat them without making them too mushy.
While I liked the sandwich, I’m no marketing expert, but I’m not sure that this concept will fly in Chicago (or elsewhere) at this price point. The 6″ sandwich was $3.50 + tax. I’m not sure of the profit margin on the sandwich, but I know that I can go to Mezza, Oasis or Sultans and grab a falafel with tahini & hummus on a pita for roughly $3.75 + tax. I can get one for $3 if I’m in the Albany Park neighborhood.
Overall, I’m a fan, and if I’m at Subway i’d order it over other sandwiches (easily), however, there is some headway for progress.