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Dear Subway: Please Share the Gluten-Free Oregon Love

Celiac.com 08/14/2015 – Recently I took a last minute, end of Summer road trip with my family and on one of our pit stops I was delighted to discover the often rumored, highly elusive and possibly "Holy Grail" of gluten-free food: Subway's gluten-free sub rolls! Yes, I am here to tell you that they do indeed exist, even though I almost couldn't believe it even when I saw them—but there they were...a whole stack of six inch long gluten-free Subway rolls—sitting right in front of me in tidy, individually wrapped cellophane packages.

Photo: Scott AdamsI had to rub my eyes and look twice to make sure that I wasn't dreaming because I, like many people, believed that Subway had discontinued them after a temporary Oregon-only trial run, and had decided against a permanent gluten-free roll out. Apparently though, in Oregon at least (and perhaps in other states?), they are still going strong many months after their rumored demise. To top this off, they even offered a gluten-free brownie for dessert!

Rather than getting stuck with a chopped Subway salad again I was finally able to order a real submarine sandwich—just like everyone else. So, I immediately honed in on an old favorite and decided to try their Spicy Italian sub on a gluten-free roll. What...no bewildered look on their faces when I asked for gluten-free? They seemed to know exactly what I wanted, and the employee who prepared my sandwich seemed to follow a carefully prepared script—she first cleaned off the prep counter, then changed into a new pair of clean gloves, and finally pulled out a new, clean sheet of paper onto which she set the packaged roll. The roll was pre-cut, thus she didn't have to use the bread knife to cut it, which was likely contaminated. While making the sandwich I was offered the option of having it toasted (some sensitive celiacs may want to skip the toaster oven part), and I noticed that when she toasted mine she made sure that it went into the oven solo, so that it would not touch other sandwiches (it was also on its original sheet of clean paper when it went in).

At this point you are probably wondering how it tasted, right? It was simply fantastic! Why can't other companies make gluten-free bread taste like this? It was soft, strong and slightly chewy. It wasn't at all dry, and seemed very fresh. My wife wanted me to ask them if they were sold separately so that I could take some home with me, which I didn't do, but you get the idea—they were really good and tasted very fresh.

I was so excited about the prospect of being able to once again eat Subway sandwiches that I ended up stopping at Subway several times during our road trip.

Each time I visited a Subway in Oregon I noticed that other people were also ordering or eating gluten-free subs, and in each case the staff seemed to follow their gluten-free script perfectly. It is difficult to estimate the exact ratio of gluten-free customers from such a small sampling, but it seemed to me that around 10-20% of total visitors ordered the gluten-free roll. Most companies would do almost anything to grow their business by 10-20%, but in this case the opposite could be the case—businesses should be willing to offer gluten-free options so they don't lose 10-20% of their business! I certainly hope that Subway's Oregon test bed is going well, and that Subway has learned that offering gluten-free sub rolls is great for business.

And now for the $64,000 question: Will Subway roll out their gluten-free rolls to other states, and if so, when? It's time for Subway to share the gluten-free love beyond just Oregon! Of course with the P.F. Chang's litigation still ongoing, they are likely now in a holding pattern to see how that case turns out.

Have you seen gluten-free Subway rolls outside of Oregon? Please let us know below.

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62 Responses:

 
Suz
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said this on
14 Aug 2015 10:54:10 AM PST
Please bring to Montana!

 
Sheila
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 1:41:08 PM PST
I was in Seattle in June with a group of friends who wanted Subway, so I thought I would have a salad. Lo and behold they had GF rolls!!! All the people who worked on my sandwich put on new plastic gloves to make my sandwich...it was delightful. I haven't found any Subways here in Arizona who have GF rolls.

 
Carol
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said this on
14 Aug 2015 3:23:12 PM PST
Saw gluten free in Texas a while back....

 
Brenda Smith

said this on
17 Aug 2015 11:46:32 AM PST
Where in Texas? I would love to have a subway sandwich again!

 
Rose
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 3:18:27 PM PST
Where in Texas??? This is great news, I love Subway!!!

 
Jenn
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said this on
18 Aug 2015 2:44:45 PM PST
Rose, they have them in almost all Dallas and Plano, TX stores!

 
Cheryl
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 6:21:03 PM PST
In the Houston area? I used to be a Subway regular and I really miss my BMT!

 
Leslie
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said this on
15 Aug 2015 6:12:09 AM PST
Does the script include avoiding cross contamination from dipping into the "fixings" and putting them on gluten filled bread? Aren't the fixings then contaminated? Is there a separate area for fixings that have not been used to make non-gluten free subs? I'm not posing these questions hoping for an answer. I'm just saying I wouldn't eat a GF Subway sandwich unless I'm sure these issues are included in their script.

 
admin
( Author)
said this on
15 Aug 2015 6:04:31 PM PST
Clearly you have that choice. I'd like the option of eating at Subway exactly as they've set it up in Oregon.

 
Alan Corbin
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 7:04:06 AM PST
I presume the bread was baked and cooled on racks all in a GF dedicated area either on site or delivered in a GF dedicated vehicle.

 
admin
( Author)
said this on
17 Aug 2015 9:25:09 AM PST
They are not made in Subway stores and are packaged, unlike their regular wheat rolls. The rolls are undoubtedly gluten-free, and would test below 20 ppm, otherwise they could not make the claim that the rolls are gluten-free.

 
jul
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 8:50:17 AM PST
I agree. What about the cross-contamination of the fixings?

 
admin
( Author)
said this on
17 Aug 2015 9:21:22 AM PST
If you are super sensitive you may want to avoid Subway (and any other restaurant situation).

 
Pauli
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 12:40:15 PM PST
I was "glutened" by the toppings when I asked for a salad. I didn't notice at the time but even though they put on clean gloves each time they made a sandwich. The process of making regular sandwiches makes getting glutened likely i.e., put the pickles on the bread (touching bread) then dipping into pickles etc and again touching bread.

 
admin
( Author)
said this on
17 Aug 2015 5:08:40 PM PST
Did you know that you can always ask for fresh ingredients from their refrigerator?

 
Cindy
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 2:39:31 PM PST
I won't eat salads at Subway because of cross contamination I have seen and so I doubt there is a difference with the gluten free sub rolls. Why can't they use tongs or something? It would be WONDERFUL to have a sub.

 
admin
( Author)
said this on
17 Aug 2015 5:06:21 PM PST
You can ask for fresh fixings.

 
Dina
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said this on
15 Aug 2015 8:32:51 AM PST
Please bring to Utah also!

 
Mary
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said this on
16 Aug 2015 10:45:00 AM PST
Please bring them to California!

 
Forress
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 3:57:28 AM PST
I live in Washington state and we have them here also. I don't know if they make the buns themselves or buy them somewhere, but they are the BEST.... Leslie every time I have gone in there they clean every thing off and bring out fresh stuff from the back so that I am not getting any cross contamination. I have never gotten sick there and I am very sensitive. They do a great job to make sure I am taken care of in a safe and very friendly manor.

 
Phil
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 4:31:47 AM PST
I wouldn't trust the counter personnel at Subway, but applaud the effort of the owner in Oregon. It is personal for him so I know he will take care, but the rest, not so much.

 
admin
( Author)
said this on
17 Aug 2015 9:27:39 AM PST
I'm not sure if you understand that it is in all Oregon Subway stores, and apparently in some Washington ones as well.

 
Migdalia Hettler
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 5:07:32 AM PST
Great news! I do not even go into a Subway because is depressing to only be able to eat a salad while my family eat the sandwiches. Please bring to Florida!!!

 
Kelly
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 5:56:48 AM PST
Florida would be great also!

 
Heather
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 8:35:37 AM PST
Having watched my husband's sandwiches made there, I would not eat there due to contamination of fixings. However, for those who are simply gluten intolerant and don't have the potentially fatal risks of gluten exposure this is wonderful news. For those like myself, the only answer is to never eat out at restaurants that have any gluten on the menu. As long as the food is served by people who have never had to worry about gluten, there is a strong possibility of exposure. Shortly after diagnosis, I would explain to restaurant staff about my needs. I would be assured those needs would be met. Then I would get terribly sick from gluten exposure, roughly nine times out of ten. It is just not worth the risk. If establishments are noticing our needs though, it brings us closer to a day of completely gluten free restaurants available in every town. Right now the nearest one to me is over an hour's drive away (Worth it)

 
Luann
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 8:47:53 AM PST
That would be so AWESOME. We want this in California too!

 
Holly
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 8:55:21 AM PST
I ran across GF Subway in Washington, maybe that's progress? Anyway still waiting for Canada to catch up.

 
Cathy
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 11:44:45 AM PST
We have them even in a rural area outside Pittsburgh. My GF daughter hasn't tried it yet, but it's so nice to know she has that option.

 
Annette
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 11:44:48 AM PST
Just called our local Subway and asked if they carried them and sadly they do not. That's here in Ohio. Should have known.

 
kathy lange
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 12:04:34 PM PST
BUT the rolls cost a dollar more for being GF. No one has stated that.

 
admin
( Author)
said this on
17 Aug 2015 5:10:57 PM PST
Gluten-free ingredients cost more than heavily government subsidized wheat, and most celiacs are happy to pay it and have the choice. The cost of a six inch sub was $5, which was the cost of a foot long. I'll take a $5 six inch any day!

 
Cheryl
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 6:26:24 PM PST
That's how it is at most places and I don't care! I just want to be able to eat something I've missed for years. If you don't feel the same way, don't eat it, but please don't complain. I'm really irritated with those people suing P.F. Chang's. I used to live in China and now I can't even eat Chinese food -- you don't think that's worth a little extra to me?!

 
Vickie Dotey
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said this on
06 Sep 2015 12:52:56 AM PST
That should be against Subway Policy, especially if they don't sell that many GF buns. They probably throw away more than they sell. I live in Colorado and I'm still waiting for GF buns. When I was first diagnosed with celiac and asked about GF buns at Subway the dumbfounded looks I got was amazing. Subway and all restaurants should educate their staff on celiac disease and the definition of cross-contamination. Also the effects it can have on someone that is gluten-intolerant.

 
Huntress
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 1:25:07 PM PST
It would be great if Subway A) rolled this out nationwide in their restaurants and B) came out with a line of GF rolls and buns similar to the way Dunkin' Donuts sells its coffee or Panera and Olive Garden sell their salad dressings in supermarkets.

To the naysayers: Remember the perfect is often the enemy of the good. Not everyone who avoids gluten is hyper-sensitive to the point of being overly concerned with potential trace amounts of gluten from cross-contamination. It's this kind of all-or-nothing attitude that likely prevents more companies from jumping on the GF bandwagon and giving us all more GF choices.

 
admin
( Author)
said this on
17 Aug 2015 5:07:55 PM PST
Not sure what you mean here...their rolls are packaged and gluten-free...

 
Huntress
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said this on
19 Aug 2015 4:35:42 PM PST
I meant they should sell the rolls/buns in supermarkets as well as offering them in their restaurants.

(if you were referring to the later part of my post, I wasn't at all disagreeing that the buns and rolls were GF or appropriate to be consumed by those following a GF diet--quite the opposite. I am very supportive of the option and would welcome it).


 
Marcy
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said this on
18 Aug 2015 7:29:39 AM PST
Being aware of cross-contamination is not being a naysayer. I'm shocked that a fellow GF person would not even supportive of an actual celiac's GF needs. From where I'm sitting, I'm supportive of the trendy GF eaters out there because their eating food far has brought more options to the celiac table. In turn it would be nice if the fad GF eaters could likewise give support to the celiacs that actually HAVE to be aware of and restrictive of cross-contaminated "options". Geesh!!!

 
admin
( Author)
said this on
18 Aug 2015 9:07:37 AM PST
In your other comment (below) you made it clear that you have already reached the conclusion that no matter what Subway does, their subs will always be cross-contaminated. Apparently training, packaging, and even taking out fresh gluten-free ingredients stored in their refrigerator won't prevent this. I believe that this is not the case, however, it is your preconceived notion. Don't eat there--this is the best solution for your situation. You have that choice. I believe, however, that the majority or celiacs would like the option of eating there, regardless of a very small risk that can be mitigated by Subway's well-trained staff. This is really about choice--you've made yours, but it seems like you don't believe that others should be able to make theirs.

 
Zloduska
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said this on
21 Aug 2015 8:44:51 AM PST
Huntress, you are annoyingly dismissive. Really, "overly concerned"? There is no such thing when it is a matter of your life and your health. CLEARLY you are not one of us who are super-sensitive to trace gluten and celiac, otherwise you would not be so callous.

 
admin
( Author)
said this on
25 Aug 2015 10:49:23 AM PST
But if you are super sensitive you likely would not eat there no matter what Subway did...right?

 
Susie
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said this on
21 Aug 2015 12:51:44 PM PST
From a naysayer: It's your attitude that allows companies to lower their standards/precautions when preparing GF foods and make those like myself (extremely sensitive) have an even harder time keeping healthy and an even harder time being criticized as "paranoid" by others. Food for thought: how do you know that just because you're not having a reaction that damage isn't being done?

 
admin
( Author)
said this on
25 Aug 2015 10:47:37 AM PST
Again, you need not take this risk. Others may want to. It is a personal choice, and the company has taken reasonable measures to cater to those on a gluten-free diet. No matter what they did, I doubt that you would eat there.

 
Denise
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 2:16:06 PM PST
I am wondering if subway in Canada will carry the gluten free buns also. It will be nice.

 
Rhonda
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 3:30:48 PM PST
I saw the gluten-free sandwich sign at the Subway in Newport, WA over Memorial Day weekend. When we got into Spokane, the Subway shop in Qualchan didn't know what I was talking about.

 
Lucy
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 4:20:28 PM PST
Does anyone know if they have this in the UK? I love Subway but haven't been able to have one.

 
Coleen
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 4:29:30 PM PST
I was recently in Washington and they had the gluten free bread there too and it was amazing and the lady working at subway was very well trained and very cautiously changed her gloves, laid the bread on clean paper and got all of the fixings out of the back so they were not contaminated. I was very impressed. I wish they were in California!

 
john j acres
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 4:29:59 PM PST
please bring to Brisbane Australia , more coeliacs would eat out.

 
Debbie

said this on
17 Aug 2015 4:46:45 PM PST
Bread crumbs are flying all over that place!! Gloves have laid lettuce on bread, then reached for the peppers, onions, etc. No way I would eat a salad or anything else at ANY sandwich restaurant! If you are just cutting gluten out for personal reasons and not because you are sensitive, it would be different. It's all or none, though, really. I make my own amazing bread and biscuits!

 
admin
( Author)
said this on
17 Aug 2015 5:04:11 PM PST
As mentioned by at least one person who commented, they are happy to bring out fresh, uncontaminated fixings for those who ask--and no, I did not see bread crumbs "flying all over that place" at any of the Subways I visited.

 
Marcy

said this on
18 Aug 2015 7:46:15 AM PST
That's just the point- no one "sees" the bread crumbs flying...just like no one sees the flour dust at the pizzeria settle into the salads. Or maybe it's not the flour, maybe the cross contamination comes from ( _fill_in_the_blank___). But the point is, that any restaurant that is making a bread product in house will inevitably have cross contamination. I get your pretty darn excited about these subway rolls. And for most, it's a win. But, I still can't and won't be able to eat at subway because of the cross contamination factor. Weather or not you want to believe it, it happens. And there are a significant number of celiacs that have to take caution and restrict themselves from cross contamination. We need support not the contrary of being told we are being to picky. My GI doctor just told me that I have to give up Chick-Fil-A fries for heavens sake and they are always (at the location that I go to) fried in their own dedicated fryer. But somewhere somehow, I'm getting glutened at CFA. So you see, it's not that we are being picky- a true celiac MUST not eat where there is a chance of cross-contamination... Like it or not- the crumbs are flying around Subway. You really think every minimum wage kid that can't even define gluten is going to be absolutely sure to clean his cutting board and knives before prepping toppings in the back? Half the time they think I'm asking for "free" food. Gluten?

 
admin
( Author)
said this on
18 Aug 2015 9:04:17 AM PST
If you are this sensitive you likely can't eat out in dedicated gluten-free restaurants either...after all, they bring in foods from all over and there is no guarantee that cross contamination hasn't happened to one or more of their ingredients. This article is for those who do eat out, not for those who have already decided not to eat out (and apparently spend their time and effort scaring others from doing so).

 
Vickie Dotey
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said this on
06 Sep 2015 1:15:27 AM PST
Subway needs to train their staff on cross-contamination, as well as maybe putting up a sign or two saying that their staff is trained in knowing the difference in knowing what to do about someone with a special need with celiac disease ! That way there is a definite guarantee that they know what can happen if cross-contamination happens. I get really sick !!
Even if I just get my regular sweet onion chicken teryiaki chicken salad with spinach dry !!

 
Edward Epifani
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 5:35:01 PM PST
Hey, y'all
Let's put some pressure on STARBUCKS! Mine in Oregon has zero GF options. Mean while, gees, it's a no brainer, subway needs to offer GF elsewhere.
Thanks, Scott

 
Susan
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said this on
17 Aug 2015 7:13:57 PM PST
I work 1/2 block from a Subway in Sacramento, CA, but it opened after I was diagnosed. I would eat there regularly if GF rolls were available, but they're not in California yet as far as I have heard.

 
Robert
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said this on
18 Aug 2015 12:11:57 AM PST
I miss subway tuna sandwiches so much, this would be heaven if they brought this to California...to bad I wouldn't even dare trying it if they did.

I would be scared of cross contamination too much. Seems like a place were it would happen fairly easy. A guy can dream though.

 
Noni
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said this on
18 Aug 2015 5:40:07 PM PST
I would like to say to all the hypocrites...Scott mentions many times that it may not be the best option for you if you're highly sensitive and if you are...I doubt you eat out very often at all. I for one would love to have a gluten free sub option at Subway. As a person living with celiac I know that there's always a risk when eating out. I live my life with more of a no risk, no reward attitude. Thank you for the great news Scott! I'll keep my eyes open in my area.

 
sc'Que?
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said this on
19 Aug 2015 2:46:10 AM PST
Three words: PARTS PER MILLION.

It all comes down to "how full your bucket is".

 
Huntress
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said this on
19 Aug 2015 4:49:39 PM PST
Companies that offer gluten free options should be encouraged not picked apart. It is my understanding there is a continuum of gluten intolerance/sensitivity. For those on the extreme end, it is likely no option other than a fully dedicated facility is acceptable. That is not the case for everyone and therefore, this type of option should not only be welcomed but applauded and those who believe this option is important should not be labelled "GF faddists."

 
Patti in New York
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said this on
23 Aug 2015 10:53:43 AM PST
We need gluten free Subway's all across America!!!!
I haven't had a good sub since being diagnosed 4 years ago. In fact, no sandwiches at all. I don't like the Udi's frozen bread but I do like the Udi's frozen pepperoni pizza. I'm in New York and am always on the look-out for fresh gluten free foods but not finding too many. We also don't have places to eat that serve gluten free. I think if someone could take the reins and open up a franchise nationwide for gluten free that they would make a mint!!!

 
Maddie
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said this on
17 Sep 2015 11:47:52 PM PST
I live in Connecticut and we have them!

 
rita
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said this on
08 Oct 2015 6:31:16 PM PST
I would love the GF option, here in Minnesota. Culvers offers a GF hamburger option that charges $1 extra, and it is pretty good. I do not have celiacs but am sensitive to wheat. Slight cross-contamination does not bother me. I would take that small risk to have another option to eat out

 
Julie
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said this on
05 Jan 2016 1:56:31 PM PST
I so wish Subway (& Quizno's) would offer a GF sandwich in Minnesota. However, I have found Erbert's & Gerbert's have Udi's GF buns for their sandwiches. They charge an extra $ 3.00, which I think is excessive but I don't get them real often so what the heck. They aren't bad but they don't toast them, which is what I really miss.




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