The subway sandwich machine at California College sells fresh pre-made sandwiches

Subway has tested a take-out sandwich machine at a college, and the company says it has received “extremely positive” feedback from students.

The multinational sandwich chain reportedly installed a new Subway Smart Fridge at the University of California, San Diego in September, Subway announced in a press release on Monday, November 14.

According to Subway, the “completely unattended” and “interactive” smart refrigerator is the first of its kind.

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The branded vending machine is powered by Subway Grab & Go — a network of franchisees that prepare sandwiches for third-party retail locations — and is stocked daily with fresh ingredients from nearby franchisees in the La Jolla, California area, according to Subway.

Subway 'Grab and Go' sandwich machine next to photo of real Subway location

Pictured here is the new Subway Smart Fridge (left) and a Houston Subway restaurant (right) as of April 2022. The multinational sandwich chain is exploring sandwich vending machines as a potential “non-traditional retail channel.” (Subway/Brandon Bell/Getty Images/Getty Images)

Subway’s unmanned smart fridge reportedly uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing, allowing customers to ask about product inventory or communicate sandwich orders.

The vending machine has built-in weight sensor shelves and a UV-C light sanitation device that measures the weight of the wrapped sandwiches to provide accurate prices while ensuring food quality, Subway said.

A digital representation of the Subway Smart Fridge also shows that the vending machine can be filled with soda bottles and bags of chips.

University of California, San Diego students walking down the path

College students from the University of California San Diego were the first consumers to try the new Subway Smart Fridge. The company reportedly installed the sandwich machine on campus. (iStock / iStock)

According to Subway, the initial feedback the brand has received from college students has been “extremely positive,” and its franchisees have expressed interest in adding smart refrigerators to their independent businesses.

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FOX Business reached out to Subway to comment on whether Subway Smart Fridges will be installed in other regions.

“Subway Grab & Go has quickly gained prominence as consumers are drawn to freshly made daily sandwiches from a brand they know and love, versus competing items that rely on a 14-day minimum shelf life,” said Karla Martinez, director of innovation at non-traditional development at Subway, in a statement.

Subway 'Grab and Go' Sandwich Vending Machine by Vicki

The Subway Smart Fridge is an extension of the sandwich company’s larger “Grab and Go” platform (founded in 2020), which consists of a network of franchisees who prepare sandwiches for third-party retail locations. (Subway/Fox News)

“As Subway continues to expand its off-premises concepts, guests can expect to find Subway Grab & Go and smart refrigerators in more convenient everyday locations like airports, college campuses and hospitals,” continued Martinez.

Subway’s expansion into the to-go sandwich business comes at a time when the brand has about 5,900 non-traditional locations across the U.S. and Canada, which accounts for about 25% of Subway’s North American footprint, according to the chain’s press release .

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According to Subway, non-traditional locations include airports, rest areas, university campuses, convenience and gas stations, and hospitals.

These locations have reportedly been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but according to Subway, the company has seen “an average 22% increase in sales” in non-traditional locations, marking a “strong recovery in 2022 across all channels impacted by the pandemic.” could mean,” Subway’s press release said.

Grab and Go sandwich wrapped on the subway

Subway Grab and Go sandwiches are reportedly freshly made by participating Subway franchisees. (Subway/Fox News)

“As more of our guests seek dining experiences that meet their needs of the moment, the brand’s non-traditional locations and platforms can serve them anywhere, anytime, wherever and whenever Subway craves them,” said Taylor Bennett, vice president of Subway non-traditional development at Subway, in a statement.

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Bennett continued, “As Subway focuses on strategic and profitable growth, there is a significant opportunity to expand our presence in non-traditional locations and for franchisees to generate additional revenue for their businesses.”

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