Subway eases into new fresh-baked biscuit sandwiches

For Subway, a key aim in introducing different items is keeping things the same. Easy implementation and simplicity in operation were crucial objectives in the development of the new Breakfast Stuffer biscuit sandwiches currently being tested in the Southern California market.

“We’ve been looking at ways to do breakfast as a program more than just as items here and there for quite some time,” said Steve Lawrence, vice president of operations for Subway, the sandwich chain with 28,000 franchise locations worldwide.

About 7,000 Subway locations have been offering breakfast sandwiches made on regular six-inch bread, but Lawrence said ensuring easy implementation was usually the obstacle to bringing in other sorts of morning items.

“We’ve been toying with different breakfast opportunities for several years,” he explained. “The others weren’t more successful because of a lack of franchisee acceptance.”

While breakfast has done well in participating locations, Lawrence described the Breakfast Stuffers as “one of the more promising” selections.

The adoption of high-speed ovens to toast Subway sandwiches was a main force behind the creation of the Breakfast Stuffers. The new oven is different from the one used to bake the bread for the restaurants’ sandwiches. Besides toasting sandwiches quickly, the new high-temperature oven has other capabilities that Lawrence said opened the door to several new products, especially with its ability to cook a product from a raw state to completion in a matter of seconds.

AStuffer consists of egg, bacon or ham, and cheese wrapped in a raw biscuit dough that is baked in the high-speed oven. The dough is a proprietary ingredient that arrives frozen and is defrosted for use. Lawrence said it is less complicated to use than the frozen dough used to make sandwich bread.

“With the bread process, a bread dough comes as a frozen dough and we bake it off. During the baking process, there are several steps in the process to get a final baked product,” he said. “Any kind of yeast product has a low-level of tolerance. Anything can mess up the end product.”

However, with the raw biscuit dough, there are not multiple production stages.  It only requires defrosting and baking. “You take the raw dough and make the Breakfast Stuffer. It’s real fast and real quick,” Lawrence said.

The egg used for breakfast items arrives frozen and precooked, requiring only defrosting and reheating using equipment already in place at Subway stores. The bacon, ham and cheese used for the Stuffers are already stocked for other Subway items.

“That’s the beauty of the breakfast menu,” Lawrence said. “Besides a few ingredient items, that’s the only difference.”

The production process for breakfast is similar to the assembly used for Subway’s lunch and dinner sandwiches. That allows Subway to make its entire menu available during breakfast, Lawrence said.

“Customers can actually order lunch at the same time, and it’s something we promote,” he explained. Patrons can then take the sandwich with them to eat at their desk around midday.

In Los Angeles, where the Stuffers are being tested at 850 units, several locations also are trying 24-hour service. Breakfast is promoted until 11 a.m. throughout the test market, but  Lawrence said the home office currently is modifying the policy so that breakfast can be served all day.

“There’s not a strong demand, but there are those asking for it,” he said. “We have the products so there’s no reason to actually not do it to satisfy the need and it doesn’t interfere with our current product.”

In Canada, about 98 percent of Subway locations offer breakfast. But those units have apparently not been outfitted with the equipment to produce the Stuffers.