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8 Strict Rules Subway Employees Have to Follow

Here's how the largest fast-food chain in America keeps business booming.

Since its founding in a nondescript building in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1965, Subway has grown to be the largest fast-food chain in America, with more than 21,110 locations spread across the nation as of spring of this year. Because Subway operates under a franchise business model, locations are owned and run by private operators or businesses not technically affiliated with the actual Subway corporation. That said, there are still a number of rules, some bizarre, that Subway employees have to follow in order for a given franchise to remain in operation.

And while many Subway employee rules make perfect sense, like changing gloves between orders and being mindful of food allergies, a few are just downright strange. But hey, anything that keeps the customers happy and the sandwiches selling. With over 21,000 locations, clearly the Subway way of doing things works. Plus, don't miss 7 Shocking Secrets About Subway, Straight From Employees.

They must greet customers with the words: "Welcome to Subway"

subway employee welcoming customer

Being polite alone just won't cut it, not for a Subway employee, according to an official Subway Employee Training Manual. All customers who enter the store must be greeted with the specific words: "Welcome to Subway." After that, the employee can go ahead and chat. Or just take orders.

Subway workers must give you as many veggies as you want

subway condiments

If you want to really get your money's worth at a Subway restaurant, load up that sandwich with veggies. While you will be charged for extra meat or cheese, there's no limit on the vegetables, according to 12Onions. The worker will put a certain amount of any veggie asked for on your sandwich, but you can just ask for more. And more.

Sandwiches must be "made" with ingredients separated if asked for

subway items in bag

A former Subway employee—or "sandwich artist," as they are called at work—told a Quora Q&A that they are required to give a customer each ingredient asked for on its own if requested. That means you could order a turkey and cheese sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and mayo, and get a piece of bread in one bag, meat in another, cheese in a third, lettuce in… well, you get the idea. And now consider that there are about a dozen toppings that can be added to any given sandwich.

Prepared meats must be microwaved, even for cold sandwiches


Suppose you want a non-cold cut meat on a sandwich at Subway, like the rotisserie chicken, for example. In that case, workers either have to "toast" (which really means microwave) your sandwich or, if you want it cold, they have to zap the meat separately and then make the sandwich, according to former employees sharing via Reddit. This is to kill off bacteria that may have formed even though the meats are pre-cooked.

 The #1 Worst Sandwich at Subway, Says a Dietitian

Managers are expected to act like spies when making bank deposits

ordering subway

According to Food-n-Fun, Subway managers are expected to take their work very seriously, especially the part of the work that deals with taking money to the bank. One rule for Subway managers states they must: "Make daily bank deposits at different times of the day and using different routes to the bank." They are also required to count cash out of the view of customers and to "protect company assets at all times."

Workers undergo five days of training and take multiple tests

employee training

It might seem like overkill, but new hires at a Subway restaurant have to undergo some rigorous, multi-day training complete with several written exams, according to a Subway Employee Training Manual. The days are divided up specifically, with some dedicated to training in back-of-the-house matters, like food storage and dishwashing, and others with customer-facing work like making sandwiches. There are written tests administered several times throughout the five-day process.

They have to make you a pizza if you ask

subway pizza
psychprofessor / Tripadvisor

While it's not on the menu, a former Subway employee told a Reddit thread: "With a little creativity, and an unabashed abuse of the patient worker who is helping you, you can make a pretty decent pizza at Subway." The trick is to pile cheese and toppings onto an open piece of flatbread and then have it toasted. The employee will have to bill it as a sandwich.

 30 Secret Menu Items at Every Fast Food Chain

There is a limit on black olives and tomatoes

subway employee

Though not always followed, Subway has rules for the number of black olives and tomatoes workers are supposed to put on sandwiches. The Sandwich Artists are only supposed to use three olives and three tomato slices per six-inch sandwich, and twice that for foot-longs.

A previous version of this article was originally published on May 31, 2022.

Steven John
Steven John is a freelancer writer for Eat This, Not That! based just outside New York City. Read more about Steven