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Diatribe: Why Is Subway So Stingy With Their Napkins?

07/02/2011

I’m messy and I use a lot of napkins.  I keep napkins in my desk at the office, in the glove box of my car and in at least two places in my house.  I hate the little machines that are found in fast-food restaurants that make it difficult to take more than one napkin at a time and I’ve been known to open them up to get what I need.  But my strangest and most consistent napkin encounters have always happened at Subway restaurants.

At every Subway, and there are almost 35,000 of them in 98 countries, the napkins are kept behind the counter and doled out in tiny allotments.  Why is Subway so stingy with their napkins?  In each restaurant the “sandwich artists” are instructed to give one napkin to anyone that orders a six-inch-long sandwich and two napkins to customers that order foot-long sandwiches.  Diners that want more napkins are supposed to be given more upon request.  Subway is very specific about the quantities of the items served in their restaurants.  For example, only three olives on a small sandwich or six slices of tomato on a larger sandwich.  They do this to be consistent from one franchise to another.

Clearly, Subway’s napkin policy, like their other portion-control procedures, is supposed to help control costs and keep prices from rising.  But getting an extra napkin with a sandwich shouldn’t be like going to the gates of Oz and asking to see the wizard.  It shouldn’t be a big deal.

They’re not even nice napkins!  And I think I know what I’m talking about.

Am I the only one that doesn’t like to beg for napkins?

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