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    Subway Tries Café Concept, Plans 2,000 New Locations

    The upscale Subway Café is being tested in around 15 locations, with 10 more to come this year.

    MILFORD, Conn. -- Subway is adding some class to its footlongs through the new Subway Café, an upscale format that the chain is currently testing, according to a Nation's Restaurant News report. It is aimed at franchisees who want to open Subway stores in office buildings and similar high-end locations.

    Subway Café is still being developed, but company spokesman Les Winograd said it's intended to be a cross between a sandwich concept and a coffee bar. It is also slightly larger than the average 1,200-sq.-ft. Subway location. The menu features baked goods, coffee, hot and cold espresso drinks, hot and cold chai latte, hot chocolate and frozen beverages, along with Subway's traditional sandwich and breakfast offerings.

    "Employees will need some specific training for the cafes," said Winograd.

    The cafes will have standardized decoration that features brick or wood-paneled walls, lounge-style seating with comfortable armchairs, and a fireplace in some stores, he noted. However, the company plans for the design to be flexible to accommodate development in a variety of locations.

    Initially launched by a single franchisee in Alexandria, Va., the test has expanded to about 15 locations, and the company hopes to add 10 more this year, said Winograd.

    Subway is also pursuing aggressive growth of its traditional stores with plans to open 2,000 North American locations in 2011, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. This week, a group of company representatives is attending the ICSC RECon convention in Las Vegas.

    "To continue to provide career opportunities to entrepreneurs and offer our world famous submarine sandwiches, which includes a wide range of healthier meal options, we will be aggressively looking for sites and ready to make deals," said Chris Kan, training and business promotion specialist for Subway Real Estate LLC. "We have a proven system in place and an ever-increasing consumer base. We will have more than 100 Subway developers, field staff and leasing specialists from all across North America attending the event."

    As of January, Subway is the global leader in number of stores operating, beating out McDonald's with more than 33,000 locations worldwide, as CSNews previously reported.

    This is partially due to the company's willingness to consider both traditional and nontraditional venues, such as hospitals, airports, sports arenas and more, according to the report. One continually changing location is the New York Subway housed on a crane at the World Trade Center construction site, which rises along with the building.

    Since January, Subway has opened roughly 700 new stores in 50 countries. Interested franchisees can seek more information by calling the Subway Real Estate office at (800) 888-4848.

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