The restaurant chain Subway prides itself on serving fast food that’s good for you. But now, for the first time, one of its sandwich shops is answering to a higher authority.
The world’s first kosher Subway has opened at a Cleveland JCC, the Mandel Jewish Community Center — and the man who ultimately made it happen is a Lebanese Christian, Ghazi Faddoul.
The restaurant — which launched several weeks ago but had its official grand opening Tuesday — looks like the world’s 25,000 other Subways, but the chicken is kosher, the cheese is soy based, and the ham is actually smoked turkey. In addition to the chain’s usual fare, the Subway at the JCC offers shwarma and corned beef.
Because of the increased expenses associated with kosher products and preparation — kosher roast beef costs twice as much as nonkosher roast beef, according to Faddoul, the store’s main owner — prices tend to be 10% to 15% higher than usual.
The idea for the first kosher Subway came several months ago from Charles Zachowski, a member of the JCC and a friend of Faddoul. The JCC was looking to upgrade its food services with a well-known brand, so Zachowski approached Faddoul, a Subway development agent.
It “feels great” to be a Lebanese Christian responsible for the first kosher Subway, Faddoul told the Forward. “I believe in the rules. I’m very glad that [Cleveland Kosher, a supervisory authority, was] able to lead us and help us and direct us to the right things.”
Subway, which has yet to open a store in Israel, has several outlets throughout the world, including one in New Jersey, that offer special halal (Islamically permissible) options for devout Muslims alongside the regular menu choices.
For the JCC in Cleveland, Subway’s health-conscious reputation was crucial.
“It promotes what the JCC is about,” said Michael Hyman, the institution’s executive director.
Okay, so the food’s healthy and kosher. But what about the taste? Hyman reported long lines and personal satisfaction: “I’ve eaten there a number of times. The food was very good,” he said, adding, “Many of the rabbis in the community have been over.”
The grand opening was attended by Subway spokesman Jared Fogle, who boasts of losing 245 pounds by living on what he dubs the Subway diet. During his visit, Fogle spent time at the JCC’s aerobics and yoga facilities. At press time, his Subway order was unknown.