The Surprising Business Quiznos Used To Run

As far as quick-and-easy sub sandwiches go, Quiznos seems to be an American staple. According to its website, the popular chain restaurant has satisfied multitudes of hungry customers for nearly four decades, with a focus on quality ingredients and a specific manner of preparation from the very beginning — all of their subs are toasted to enhance their delicious melange of flavors. In addition to Quiznos' signature crusty bread and piping-hot fillings, the Denver-based franchise has made a few other business decisions that differentiate them from their competitors, and some of them may shock you. 

Denver Business Journal reported in a 2005 interview with Quiznos CEO, Rick Schaden, that in order to keep with one of the company's primary goals of franchising, Quiznos was pairing up with "father of fitness" Ray Wilson to start an unusual and unexpected venture. The hot sandwich restaurant backed a chain of circuit-style gyms called 123 Fitness, which advertised simple 30-minute exercise routines to clients and promised enormous client lists to investors.

Partnering with 123 Fitness was a recipe for disaster

Unfortunately for those involved, the reality of 123 Fitness was much less successful than it was touted to be. According to Franchise Times, the company lost over $10 million in less than three years. Due to inflated start-up costs and a pitiful membership turnout, franchisees simply could not keep their doors open. Many people described completely draining their savings and retirement accounts to try keeping their portion of the business afloat, and several were forced to file bankruptcy. By 2009, Schaden sold 123 Fitness and was wrapped up in multiple lawsuits from individual investors, who blamed the corporation for financial misrepresentation and a myriad of other infractions (via Blue MauMau).

However, the 123 Fitness shareholders are not the only group to experience an adversarial relationship with Quiznos over the years. In 2015, Forbes noted a "constant battle" between the restaurant and its franchisees, many of whom cited problems with market over saturation and purchasing exclusivity. In the wake of many years of challenges, Quiznos began to rebrand itself with the help of a business transformation consultant in 2019 (via QSR Magazine). One of the biggest changes appears to be an increasing level of consideration towards franchisees and their success. Exciting improvements for customers include new menu items, and drive-thrus in many locations.