Here's some food -- well, "food" -- trivia for you: Which fast food chain has the most store locations in the United States?
Correct answer: Subway, and it's not even close. The sandwich shop's 26,000-some restaurants nearly double the number of McDonald's (13,800-some, as of 2016) in America; Starbucks comes in third with around 10,000 locations.
The location king is on the decline. Subway's sales are down in each of the past three years, and last week the company announced plans to close 500 of its restaurants, making this the second year in a row with triple-digit closures.
As one food business consulting expert told the Washington Post: "[Subway] is just not what people want anymore."
These are dark times for anyone who still wants to "Eat fresh."
Just which Subways are marked for death remains to be seen. With this grim qualifier in mind, we bring you a far more uplifting piece of information.
Isaiah Bryant, a 15-year-old resident of Toronto, Canada, is quickly estabilshing a reputation in cool digital cartography. Specifically: Bryant is getting pretty good at finding all the Subway sandwich shop locations in a given geographical area, then mapping them out to look like they're stops on an actual subway.
A week ago, it was the Twin Cities' turn to be blessed by one of the wunderkind's designs. Bryant's map of the Subways of Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington is a thing of beauty, so long as you don't stop to think about what's acutally being mapped, and even comes replete with a Metro Transit logo. (Note: Do not use this map to try to get to work, unless you work at Subway, or intend to quit your job to spend more time with your sandwich artist.)
Bryant posted his finished work to Reddit's "r/subwaysubway" sub-reddit. (Of course that's a thing.) He tells City Pages he's always liked making maps, and says "as I got older" -- reminder: he's 15! -- "I got into public transportation, particularly rapid transit." When he saw a joke map of Subways-as-subways, it "clicked," and he's done "lots of cities" since then.
Anything interesting about the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington area?
"Minneapolis surprised me," Bryant says, "because unlike all the other cities, there aren't so many Subways in the suburbs. Where I live, for instance, there are Subways spread out evenly throughout the entire city. In Minneapolis, there were long stretches of city without a restaurant. So when it came down to visualising it, I found that it wasn't really that realistic."
So there you have it, Subway. Market analysts might be telling you to close up shops to cut expenses, but this wise teenager says the Twin Cities, at least, could use a few more, at least if we're people are ever going to want to live along the Subway subway line.
Please, no one show this map to Minnesota's House Republican Caucus. Odds are, they'd rather fund this subway than the Southwest Light Rail Transit line -- which, at least at present, has far less focus on cold cuts.
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