Craving a Subway sandwich, with real meat and fresh-cut vegetables on warm bakery bread?
Please be aware that the stores in Athens and Thessaloniki are closed, and the official Subway website only lists Greece and store locations when they are open.
*Article last updated March 3, 2013
Alex, Dylan and McKroes, kind and knowledgeable readers who gave me information to update this article.
Islands — All seasonal, in summer only
The official Subway website locator only shows locations that are currently open for summer, and status can change at any moment. It does not reflect all possible operating franchise locations (listed below).
Leyhimi, Kavos municipality
Beach Road – Dimokratias 58
(28970) 32371/(28970) 32398
Ag. Paraskevis 57
Leof. Elef. Venizelou 39 (Main Road)
Argiassi Tsilivi 29100
Defunct locations — Shut down
These stores have permanently closed.
Averof Street 6-8
A store was scheduled to open at the Mall of Athens in Marousi but never did.
Why is Subway Sandwich operating seasonally? Why did stores shut down in Athens, Greece?
Based on my experience and knowledge of the market in Greece, Subway failed in Athens long before the debt crisis and is failing as a year-round chain for four reasons:
1. Local tastes: Although the sandwich ranked #2 behind burgers as Greeks’ favorite fast food, the definition of a sandwich here is usually of three types:
a) A sandwich similar to Everest, which is a rectangle roll with substandard fillings of your choice flattened in a panini machine;
b) a cold cut, slice of tomato and leaf of lettuce stuffed into a bun, served at a bakery or coffee shop, picked up as an afterthought or filler;
c) tost (not misspelled), which consists of cheese and sometimes a thin slice of cheap ham pressed into a machine and served warm, aka, grilled cheese sandwich.
People don’t care so much about the quality of sandwich ingredients, and have never heard of Philly cheesesteak, BBQ beef, albacore tuna, hot pastrami, corned beef, Monterey Jack cheese, smoked Swiss, sourdough or onion rolls. Even the Greek version of a club sandwich is horribly compromised with limp bacon. Sandwiches are generic, and the same offerings can be found anywhere (even at home), so a place like Subway and its diverse menu would likely only appeal to someone from abroad.
If a franchise wants to survive, it must customize itself somewhat to local culture and habits of the population, aka, Greeks.
2. Limited market: Expats and tourists alone cannot sustain a business. Tourists provide only seasonal business, and there isn’t an overwhelming number of expats who frequent a business like this because of location or personal preference.
True, some of us get homesick and enjoy variety but eating a Subway sandwich once or twice a year isn’t going to help the owner turn a profit and stay in business. Personally, I didn’t eat Subway when I lived in the USA, so why would I start now?
My Greek partner loves Subway, but not so much to take public transport for 2 hours to the nearest location or fight traffic in his car for an hour, then pay more than the price of a sandwich for parking. It’s easier to wait until our next visit to the USA because prices are cheaper and locations literally everywhere, even in the airport before we get our luggage and hail a shuttle. I also make great clones at home.
3. Compromised quality: Even if the franchise has the recipes, it’s inevitable that ingredients have been compromised or the menu curtailed because of #1, so customers in #2 who care about authenticity are often disappointed because it’s not the same or their favorite isn’t offered. Chances of repeat business are slim.
4. Poor professionalism: Customers have a difficult time finding locations because franchises don’t use marketing, advertising and common sense, such as listing basic information: addresses, phone numbers and websites. For example, a rep for Subway Greece has twice left comments telling me this article is outdated but neglected to leave current info or URLs to update it, even after I told her what I needed the first time. If they don’t make it easy, people take their business elsewhere. Simple as that.
A lot of foreign franchises in Greece fail for the same reasons. It’s not just Subway. And yet, Subway Sandwich Europe continues to advertise for potential franchisees in Athens, Thessaloniki and elsewhere in Greece. Buyer beware.
In the News
“Subway passes McDonald’s” — WSJ