Sunday, June 4, 2023

Why Did Quiznos Fail?

Quiznos was, at one point, one of the most popular sandwich chains in America. Subway considered it to be their number one threat, but now, things are changing. Quiznos stores are shuttering at a breakneck pace and many are worried that the once-beloved chain will end up a thing of the past.

Truthfully, the rise and fall of Quiznos remains a precautionary tale to other restaurant chains across the country. Here’s the true story behind this chain’s meteoric rise, and why you don’t see Quiznos around anymore.

The first Quizno's Subs restaurant,
The first Quizno’s Subs restaurant, Denver, Colorado.

Quiznos and the Toasted Sub

If you were ever wondering how mainstream sub stores got their starts, Quiznos is a good option. The chain originally started off as an Italian deli that served sandwiches to businesspeople on their lunch break in the 80s.


What made Quiznos particularly popular, back then, was its practice of toasting subs. Believe it or not, the concept of toasting sandwiches was brand new during the decade–and Quiznos was the company that really brought it mainstream in the Denver area.


As the deli improved, they started to tinker with red wine vinaigrette and specialty breads. Soon, it became a mainstay on the West Coat. Within 10 years, the Quiznos brand spread to the Denver area. In 1991, all 18 Quiznos chains were sold to franchisers.

The father-son duo who bought Quiznos, both named Rick Schaden, quickly set out to expand the chain throughout the country. By 1993, the number of Quiznos locations skyrocket. The brand soon became known for high quality ingredients and great sandwiches. By 2007, a total of 5,000 stores were opened on both coasts.

A Quiznos Sub restaurant located in San Jose

The Decline

The expansion ended up being a major issue. It was just too fast an expansion. The upper management of the franchise started to dole out franchises to anyone who had the money to run a store. This led to a drop in quality that hurt the brand immensely and harmed sales.

Soon, lawsuits started to pop up against Quiznos’ poor management and franchising practices. Making the issue worse was their new policy involving ingredients. In order to make up for lost sales, Quiznos began to charge franchisees high rates for ingredients.

Eventually, Quiznos had to restructure and file for bankruptcy. The chain now has about 800 different stores that are still in operation, many of which are still struggling. Will Quiznos turn its business around? One can only hope.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart is a food critic, writer, and at home culinary enthusiast!


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