I have seen the future...

and it is at Subway.

As I walked into the restaurant, I notice three computer terminals along the counter where the customer usually stands as he/she dictates his/her sandwich preferences to the “Sandwich Artist” on duty. I get in line by the bread display as is customary only to have the “Artist” (following an exchange of friendly greetings and discussion of the weather) point my toward one of the terminals. “Go ahead and order with the touchscreen,” he says.

Whoa there! I’m just here for a sandwich I think. Noting major. I cautiously approach the screen and “Touch here to begin” as instructed. After a minute or so of flipping through option and tapping to specify a lot or a little of various topping, the terminal informs me that I am order number 82 and prints out a receipt to that effect. As I pay at the register, the “Artist” begins to make my dinner based on a copy of my receipt that printed behind the counter. Another minute later, my number is called and I am handed a sandwich made to my specifications without having said a word to the “Artist” since “We could use some rain.”

As I left the establishment, I half expected to see futuristic architecture and cars flying past but was greeted only by the mundane sights and sounds of the 21st century.

But I have been to the future.

Have many Subways adopted this technology? Are they the only chain to do this? Thoughts?

I haven’t seen that yet around here, but the idea appeals to me for some reason. Maybe it’s the absurdity of communicating via computer to someone only a few feet away.

We can still exchange pleasantries with the person at the register I guess.

Sheetz (mid-Atlantic convenience store) has been doing things this way for probably over a decade now. Their MTO’s (made-to-order) have been touchscreen ordered for a LONG time…

I suppose it’s a natural tie-in to their new online ordering. (availability varies wildly by area, and probably depends on franchisees being willing to buy the terminals)

But yeah, getting a sandwich has always been an interactive process as they slide down the line, even if I’ve met more than a few sandwich makers that were dumber than the mayonnaise.

Thanks, jayjay. I was trying to remember the name of this chain as I was reading the OP.
I first saw this in Virginia at Sheetz many years ago.

Arby’s used to have this, 8 or 10 years ago. I liked it.

one more interactions with humans I don’t have to do.

That’s exactly the feeling. It’s like they’re specifically trying to phase out human interaction. Rather than just talking to a guy who’s literally feet away, you now poke the screen a couple times and he reads your pokes off of a print out. A bit silly, really.

I just got another thought though. I imagine that this sort of technology is helpful for individuals who lack the language proficiency to communicate their order to the “Sandwich Artist.” The menu had pictures just about the whole way through from the bread to the combo options. I imagine that if one is unable to communicate “Turkey on wheat with lettuce” vocally, touching the pictures of wheat bread, turkey and lettuce would be a reasonably agreeable alternative alternative.

Oh, and naturally the Google ads are for Drug Rehab.

I don’t hate this idea, only because of the one time my friends wanted to go to Subway after a weekend band trip. I had been sick and yelled to much at the basketball games, losing my voice. I ended up having to right what I wanted on my sandwich in my notebook and nodding or shaking my head. Give me some pictures!

WaWa does it, as well as a few Burger Kings around here.

I especially like the ones at Burger King. They have an ATM built right into them, so I can order and pay via machine. Why, I hardly have to have any human contact at all!

As someone who works fast food, I think it’s a great idea. The hardest single part of my job is decyphering/ interpreting/ translating what the customer is trying to describe into what type and amount of food they expect to see on their plate. Negotiating treaties for the United Nations couldn’t be any harder.

Well, I’m from the city where Sheetz began and where they still have their corporate HQ, Altoona PA (where there’s a Sheetz on every other corner).

I’ve seen it at WaWa, also. In many cases it’s a time-saver. Too many times I’ve said to a sandwich-maker “I’d like a ham and cheese on a 6-inch whole wheat, lettuce, tomato and honey mustard,” only to be asked each of those questions over again one at a time. Some clerks can deal with the one-sentence order efficiently; others are for whatever reason only able to hold onto one concept at a time. With the touch-screen order, you get to think about each item as long as you need to, and the clerk can look at each one in whatever order is most convenient. It also saves the hassle of “Hey, I didn’t ask for onions,” or “You forgot the tomato.” It’s all down there exactly as you ordered it.

That would pose a problem for me at Subway. I love the Veggie Sub; however, I despise getting 3 slivers of lettuce on the sandwich. I always always always have to ask the Artiste to add more lettuce.

For each veggie, the screen had three quantities available: normal, more and less. I guess this option is there so people like you (Lots of lettuce) and people like me (a little lettuce) can specify.

During my last visit to Disneyland in Anaheim last May, one of the restaurants was testing a new touch-screen menu kiosk where we can order everything from burgers to drinks. There was a Cast Member (employee) to help out any guests, just in case. We got our ticket with item listings and costs, paid at the register, and picked up our food, just like we ordered it.

jayjay and others beat me to mentioning Sheetz MTOs. Been doing the touchscreen ordering for over a decade. I saw it at Sheetz a few years before I saw it at WaWa, and have yet to see it in a Subway.

And I gotta give credit to Sheetz MTOs, for a gas station/convenience store, they make a damn good sandwich.

You should come to the Subway near me. They give me so much lettuce that the sandwich can’t close properly. I want more room for the vegetables that actually taste like something.

The terminal idea sounds good to me, because so many times in the past several years my parents have given me money to go buy sandwiches for the 5 people in my family (I still have not forgiven them for this). It would definitely eliminate the confusion of ordering: “Mayo on the BLT. No, no mayo on the BMT! Lettuce, green peppers, and tomatos on the veggie; lettuce, green peppers, and pickles on the turkey; lettuce, pickles, tomatos, and spinach on the ham–no, no, I said lettuce, green peppers, and tomatos on the veggie…”

I would find it useful when I’m abroad. Heck, just the other day I was with Mom’s at a bread store in my hometown, across the one where we usually buy. We asked for “romano”. The girl didn’t know what it was, sorry. Mom said “I mean that rectangular one with the flour sprinkled over it, how do you guys call it?” ‘artesano’ Aaaaaaaah.

And this was in my hometown! In my own country! Across the street from the usual place, where that bread is a romano!

Now picture being in a sandwich place in the States, and the guy behind the counter says something like “whaidorrai” (white or rye, I was later told it means) and I have no idea what is he saying or which is which, so I point to the pile of slices that I fancy and say “that one”. He says “ahrai”. Oooook… so I like rye bread. Gee. Mom doesn’t even speak English, going to get a sandwich with her was kind of an adventure. In Spain you ask for a chorizo sandwich and the most you can get in the way or options are crushed tomato or not, full sandwich or half. In the US? Oh, my…

I haven’t been in a Subway lately, so I don’t know if the ones near me have this or not. But I like the idea of not being stuck behind someone who can’t decide what he wants on his sandwich. Or worse, someone on a cell phone relaying that information from his buddy. :rolleyes: