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11 Toasty Facts About Quiznos

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"Heating anything brings out the flavors in food products. I don't care what it is," Quiznos' founder once said. And they built a whole fast-casual sandwich franchise on that belief.

1. QUIZNOS WAS FOUNDED ON FINE-DINING EXPERIENCE.

In the 1970s, Chef Jimmy Lambatos served as executive chef at the Colorado Mine Co. steakhouse, where he cooked for the likes of Elvis and the Rolling Stones. He left in 1978 to open Footers, his own Italian restaurant. It was while running Footers that Lambatos developed the signature toasted subs as an homage to the sandwiches he grew up with in New York City and, in 1981, he launched Quiznos.

2. QUIZNOS' LONG-TIME CEO JOINED THE COMPANY AT JUST 22.

Rick Schaden opened a Quiznos franchise in the Denver area in 1987 when he was just 22, along with a little help from his father. Over the next few years, the father-son team acquired several more stores, and in 1991, the pair purchased the entire company from the founders. At just 26, Schaden became CEO of the company—a position he held till 2007.

3. IN 2005, QUIZNOS LAUNCHED A LINE OF GYMS.

The restaurant chain partnered with former pro wrestler and fitness guru Ray Wilson to launch a line of gyms called 123 Fitness, which focused on 30-minute exercise classes. At the time, Schaden said "Second only to serving great sandwiches that people love, franchising is a core competency at Quiznos … Partnering with Ray, who is known as the father of fitness, on a health club concept is a winning idea."

Unfortunately, by 2008, there were twice as many closed 123 Fitness clubs as there were open ones, and many of the franchisees faced bankruptcy.

4. QUIZNOS TOOK ON SUBWAY…

During the late '90s and early 2000s, Quiznos sat comfortably in second place among fast food sandwich joints—but far behind first-place Subway. Quiznos always maintained that their ingredients were of higher quality (to justify the higher price point), and in 2006 they launched their most aggressive advertising scheme against the sub behemoth. The campaign claimed that their Prime Rib Cheesesteak contained twice as much meat as Subway’s Cheesesteaks, and invited consumers to put their claims to the test.

"I feel so strongly that our new Prime Rib Cheesesteak is better in quality and abundance than Subway's that I am spreading the news to consumers and offering them a 100% satisfaction guarantee or they get a free sub from Quiznos,” then-CEO Schaden said at the time.

5. …AND LOST

Quiznos made a valiant effort to catch Subway, topping out at over 5000 locations in 2007. But the recession hit the slightly-more-upscale Quiznos far harder than Subway. While the $5 footlong boosted the latter’s business, Quizno’s sales and market share both dropped by more than 50 percent between 2008 and 2013, landing it behind not just Subway but also Jimmy John’s. Although the chain has recovered from having declared bankruptcy in 2014, there are currently only 1500 stores worldwide.

6. THE CHAIN IS LOOKING FOR NEW LIFE OVERSEAS.

There’s no way to sugar-coat Quiznos' struggles recently, but as the brand bounces back from bankruptcy they’ve got a new business plan in the works: conquer the overseas market. With thousands of domestic Quiznos locations shuttering in the past few years, the sandwich chain announced plans to replace them with new locations in Asia and in the Middle East where there’s high demand (but less competition) for American-style fare. Over the next decade, they plan to open 1500 restaurants in China and 100 more in Taiwan.

7. JIM PARSONS GOT HIS BIG BREAK—SORT OF—IN A QUIZNOS COMMERCIAL.

Long before he was the highest-paid actor on television, Jim Parsons was in need of a gig—and he found one playing a man raised by wolves, in a 2003 Quiznos commercial. It didn’t exactly make him a star. “But, it broke me into the rent stratosphere,” Parsons told CBS in 2012. “It did get some attention. It certainly gave me a conversation piece. Half the battle, and I'm not kidding, in certain casting sessions and everything, are—well, you have something interesting to say. And then if you've suckled at the teat of a Siberian Husky, you have something interesting to say. Maybe not good, but it's interesting."

8. QUIZNOS HAD A PAIR OF SHORT-LIVED, MEME-TASTIC MASCOTS CALLED SPONGEMONKEYS.

They don’t really look like monkeys at all, actually. But that’s what the bizarre, heavily photoshopped, musical marsupials who appeared in a couple of Quiznos commercials in 2004 are called. Quiznos didn’t create the quirky creatures; that honor goes to British web animator Joel Veitch, who posted a video of the pair singing about the moon on his website in 2003. An employee at Quiznos' ad firm saw the video, and thought it had just the right level of attention-grabbing weirdness for a new campaign.

9. QUIZNOS' CEO INADVERTENTLY DISSED THE MCRIB.

Talk about punching up. In 2012, then-brand new CEO Stuart Mathis made headlines when he said McDonald's cult-favorite McRib was "not a great sandwich, in my view." His disparaging remarks were actually taken largely out of context; Mathis meant to praise McDonald’s smart marketing of the sandwich. The full quote includes a desire to emulate the McRib’s success. “McDonald's has done a masterful job with the McRib sandwich. It's not a great sandwich, in my view,” Mathis said. “But they've been very effective in putting it in and taking it out, and it creates buzz. We'll try to take the same approach, for example, with our lobster sandwich, which is very popular."

10. QUIZNO’S TOASTY.TV IS FULL OF VIRAL HITS.

One area in which the company has been super successful lately? Online viral marketing. Last year, Quiznos launched Toasty.TV, a platform for original and curated content. Their slick, high-budget parody videos were an instant hit. Their first video, "House of Thrones" (a Game of Thrones meets House of Cards parody), has over 2 million views, and later videos like "Mad X-Men" and "Startourage" have well over a million. But the videos have driven traffic not just to the brand’s YouTube page—in the first year after Toasty.TV launched, Quiznos' store locator traffic was up 76 percent.

11. BURNING MAN MIGHT SUE QUIZNOS.

A Toasty.TV video that was posted last month took aim at the Burning Man festival—and it looks like the festival might fight back. It’s not the mocking tone of the parody that Burning Man took issue with, it’s Quiznos’ corporate ethos. Burning Man spokesman Jim Graham said in the Reno Gazette-Journal, "We are pretty proactive about protecting our 10 principles, one of which is decommodification. We get quite a number of requests each year from companies wanting to gift participants with their product or to capture imagery or video of their products at the event, and we turn them all down." His actual beef? That Quiznos used the idea of Burning Man to sell subs. But, funny 'cause it's true? That Insta filter was dope.

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Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Sam's Club Brings $.99 Polish Hot Dogs to All Stores After They're Cut From Costco's Food Courts
Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In early July, Costco angered many customers with the announcement that its beloved Polish hot dog was being removed from the food court menu. If you're someone who believes cheap meat tastes best when eaten in a bulk retail warehouse, Sam's Club has good news: The competing big box chain has responded to Costco's news by promising to roll out Polish hot dogs in all its stores later this month, Business Insider reports.

The Polish hot dog has long been a staple at Costco. Like Costco's classic hot dog, the Polish dog was part of the food court's famously affordable $1.50 hot dog and a soda package. The company says the item is being cut in favor of healthier offerings, like açai bowls, organic burgers, and plant-based protein salads.

The standard hot dog and the special deal will continue to be available in stores, but customers who prefer the meatier Polish dog aren't satisfied. Fans immediately took their gripes to the internet—there's even a petition on Change.org to "Bring Back the Polish Dog!" with more than 6500 signatures.

Now Sam's Clubs are looking to draw in some of those spurned customers. Its version of the Polish dog will be sold for just $.99 at all stores starting Monday, July 23. Until now, the chain's Polish hot dogs had only been available in about 200 Sam's Club cafés.

It's hard to imagine the Costco food court will lose too many of its loyal followers from the menu change. Polish hot dogs may be getting axed, but the popular rotisserie chicken and robot-prepared pizza will remain.

[h/t Business Insider]

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Two of the Last Blockbuster Stores Are Closing
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The fact that Blockbuster still has three stores in the U.S. may come as a surprise, but the video rental chain's days are numbered. The brand's two branches in Alaska will be closing up shop next week, leaving only one last holdout in Bend, Oregon, according to Engadget.

"If you'd asked me 14 years ago, there's no way I'd thought we'd be the last one," Sandi Harding, General Manager of the Oregon store, tells Engadget. "It just seems a little crazy.”

Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy in 2010 but continued to license its logo to franchisees. In 2013, there were 13 remaining Blockbuster stores, and by 2016 there were nine. Many of these branches were located in Alaska, where internet is costly and many areas lack a broadband connection, making streaming difficult.

This alone wasn't enough to keep Blockbuster's Fairbanks and DeBarr Road locations in business, though. The stores will close July 16, but they'll reopen the following day for an inventory sale that will last until the end of August.

John Oliver, host of Last Week Tonight, became an unlikely champion of the DeBarr Road outlet last April when he bought the jockstrap worn by Russell Crowe in Cinderella Man for $7000 and donated it to the store in hopes of generating interest and foot traffic. It worked for a little while, but the effect was temporary and business dropped off once again. Indeed, the age of Netflix marks the end of an era.

[h/t Engadget]

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