subway.jpg
photo borrowed from the Repurposed blog
Under normal circumstances, it ain't exactly tough to get a table at your local Subway.

But then, under normal

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Nation's Most Exclusive Subway Franchise (I'm Not Sure if this is Sad or Awesome)

subway.jpg
photo borrowed from the Repurposed blog
Under normal circumstances, it ain't exactly tough to get a table at your local Subway.

But then, under normal circumstances, most people who care at all about food know about a thousand places to get a better sandwich than at their local Subway.

So what happens when a Subway becomes not just the most exclusive restaurant in your particular micro-neighborhood, but also the only choice you have for eating lunch?

Well, that should be obvious: the foodie press just goes bonkers.

On Wednesday, the first ever (I think) fast food franchise inside a moving shipping container opened for the exclusive benefit of the ironworkers, high-steel guys and associated contractors working at the 1 World Trade Center site in Manhattan. And by today, the New York Times, the New York Daily News, Eater, Gothamist and others were all over the story.

The basic details are this: The "shop"--a highly original Subway sandwich franchise--was actually built by the same company (DCM Erectors) that's putting up all the girders that will make up the frame of the tower being built on the World Trade Center site. It's one of four structures (the other three are offices, bathrooms and a locker room) being used by workers who don't want to come down from the high steel just to file a union grievance, eat a sandwich or take a leak. It's there to provide a hot lunch for the workers without them having to actually come down off the girders (a process which, apparently, takes for-fucking-ever). In order to get in, you need to actually be working at the site (which means being in possession of the proper security clearance, I.D. badges, union cards and what-not), and the whole thing is owned by accountant-turned-franchisee Richard Schragger who, for the moment, has the honor of saying that he owns and operates the single most exclusive restaurant in the entire city.

subway2.jpg
Photo courtesy New York Times
The actual Mecha-Subway in question
But what makes this thing super-cool is not merely its limited availability or the sheer size (it's made of nine shipping containers welded together into a three-story structure with the restaurant on top, air conditioned dining room in the middle and machinery and waste disposal at the bottom), but the fact that it moves. The entire thing can kind of crawl up alongside the building as it goes up, rising on hydraulic legs so that no one (who's willing to eat at a flying Subway) will ever have to come down off the girders in order to get some lunch.

Now to me, this story is pretty cool as it stands. But what's REALLY cool is what this means for the future of crappy chain sandwich shops everywhere. I mean, if there are laws and health codes on the books in Manhattan that allow for a shipping container (or nine shipping containers) to be turned into a kind of mecha-Subway, what's to stop some enterprising young restaurateur from converting, say, one of those articulated tractor-trailer rigs into a high-speed bistro capable of moving from city to city? What's to stop some clever little sonofabitch from taking his own load of shipping containers and making a taqueria that can scale the exteriors of skyscrapers all over the city to bring burritos to cubicle-dwelling masses?

Food trucks were one thing. But this? The possibilities for weird-ass restaurant innovation are endless. No longer will owners be tethered to the tyranny of addresses or solid ground. Restaurants will be able to move, float, fly, climb the walls or come and squat beside your house to bring you fried chicken and waffles in your bathroom.

It's a brave new world, baby. So is it any surprise that the guy who owns the moving Subway franchise is already talking about bringing in the world's first container-housed and mobile Papa John's pizza?

 
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