This Is What Happened When Subway Tried To Go Kosher

On Friday, February 23, 2007, Subway announced in a press release via the Kosher Nexus that it had partnered with three Sephardic Jews to open a kosher Subway in Brooklyn's Flatbush. In practice, this meant that this Subway would close after sunset on Friday, reopen on Saturday after nightfall, and the menu offered no pork products. "I am not aware of any other popular restaurant chain in the country that has so thoroughly adapted its menu to meet kosher dietary laws," Jack Mosseri, one of the three Subway franchisees declared.

Subway had previously opened a kosher restaurant in a Jewish Community Center in Cleveland, and included in the press release their intention to open at least eight more kosher franchise locations in that year alone. "We feel confident that we are able to do this mainly because of our extensive experience adapting our menus for consumers in areas such as India or the Middle East, who have specific religious or cultural food preferences," Tim Miller, subway's Operations Management Specialist, explained.

Within two years, The Jewish News of Northern California lauded Subway, which had by then opened 11 kosher Subways, rendering it the largest kosher restaurant chain in the United States.

Being kosher was too expensive

The confidence expressed by all involved with Subway's kosher venture lasted until 2011. In September of that year, The Wall Street Journal reported that five years into the endeavor, only five of the 15 restaurants opened remained. The cause of the closures was that the expenses that come with being kosher made the restaurants unsustainable.

As already mentioned, these Subways couldn't serve pork. Nor could they serve meat and cheese pairings, meaning that ham and cheese as well as most other sandwiches were out of the question. Similarly, the preparation required for products to be kosher added costs, and sales were lost due to the Saturday closure. All together, The Wall Street Journal calculated, this added 30 percent to the operating cost while also not serving customers who wanted meat and cheese sandwiches. As of writing, no more kosher Subways remain. The two listed by Yeah That's Kosher in 2011 no longer appear on the Subway location finder.

In December, another kosher Subway closed in Pikesville, Maryland. "It's unfortunate the community cannot support it," one of the lamenting customers said to Patch. After closing, it reopened as a non-kosher Subway.