Thursday, August 28, 2008

Subway, Spencer Plaza, Anna Salai, Chennai

Subway, the sandwich (shaped in the form of a submarine) chain from the US, has been doing decent business in India. Today they operate out of Chennai, multiple outlets, serving major localities in the city. I am not so sure if these are franchisees. But knowing the US model, where Subway is the most franchised chain, there is no reason why these shouldnt be too.

The reason, i bring that up, is because, this commentary is very much about the Subway experience in India as compared to its chain in the US. I have been to about 5 different locations in Chennai. But a few highlights about this specific store has also been expressed, specially about the 'elli'.

First, things first. Their 6"seems so much smaller, that it appears to be based on a whole new scale. The other is the fad that is supposedly 'american' or 'phoren', blasting english music (and many times playing songs with questionable or vulgar lyrics). I had to point this out to a manager of a store, asking if he was paying attention to the lyrics, and didnt meet much success in getting him to understand.

The food is good, the sandwich here does justice to the name and quality they are famous for. The stores in India seemed to understand the mind here and so have two lanes one for veg and non-veg options. This does create problem when you want to 3 non-veg and 2 veg sandwiches !! Wonder why the non-veg guy cannot just take the veg order ? But then thats how it works. The sandwich artist do a decent job of carving and stuffing the sandwich. The sandwich and other food options are also priced nicely. You can get a 5.386" Veggie Delite for about Rs 78/-. Hmm, on second thought i take that back, that is a lil pricey, but hey, you are buying 'american' food.

The other surprising thing about fast food chains, is how dumb the people behind the counters become. I used to think it was a phenomenon that existed in the US, but i saw this in London, Bangkok, Malaysia and now here in Chennai too. So it is universal, they are all robots that do only what they are told to, and what their machine in front will allow them to.

This store at Spencer Plaza had interesting visitor or resident during my last visit. An Elli, rat, mouse or whatever name you would like to refer it by. The little chap ran from the inside. Luckily there is no kitchen where anything is really cooked, so his impact may have been small. In any case, he ran undistrubed to the dining area. And here is how the dumb phenomenon works best. I had just finished my order, and was not particularly repulsed, because i hardly saw it, except for the vanishing tail behind a chair. But i did change my mind about eating in.

Anyway, another customer had seen the 'elli', and brought it to the attention of the 'sandwich artist'. The artist, of course, knows only how to stuff sandwiches, and so stared back. The gentleman asked 'are you going to do something about it, or just stare?. Obviously this man didnt have a Phd, otherwise he would have known that this was not just an ordinary stare. To this challenge, our local friendly sandwich artist, moved an inch to the right. The manager/cashier, by then, knew he had to do something different, so he came out in front to see if he could interview the 'elli' in person. Of course, our good friend and mascot of Lord Ganesha, knew better, and was no where to be seen. This whole thing soon turned out to be just another myth, obviously. The store was back in business, the Gentleman walked away cancelling his order, the diners a few left, a few stayed, the money was back to being counted, and the artist was back at carving bread and stuffing lettuce.


--xh-- said...

subway is a l'll pricier, but the 'sub of the day' is almost vfm. the elli episode - i think here also the story would not have been same...
i hate to admit, but I think my reaction time have increased from what it was when I was in college - the thing which keeps my reaction time to minimum is riding. if we dont do anything other than the job, we all will one day turn into human robots. When we are in a rut, doing just the job and pushing along, we somewhere lose the power to analyze and act... one of the side effects of the new lifestyle...

sansmerci said...

really cute review .. rofl here.. n yea m readin ur reviews on burrp too.. ur doin gr8.. happy writing

Reshma said...


I was going through your food blog and found it interesting.

I write for Indulge, The New Indian Express, Chennai. Indulge is a weekly lifestyle magazine which comes out every Friday.

I would like to feature your blog for the Internet column. Do let me know if you would be up for a fun interview today or tomorrow.

My email ID is


Reshma Iqbal