Subway serving falafel, fast-food restaurants fail to "stay in their place"

The Hot Dish recently reported on fast food eateries' plans to add more gluttonous dishes to their menus in 2011.

But some of the additions--Taco Bell's partnerships with Cinnabon and Jimmy Dean to add new breakfast items, Dunkin' Donuts' foray into sausage-pancake pigs in a blanket--as well as Starbucks' plans to start pouring wine and serving dinner and McDonald's new oatmeal are adding up to a trend that Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Johnson describes as fast-food enterprises "failing to stay in their place."

As evidence, Johnson cites:
• Subway's new falafel sandwich
• Domino's Buffalo wings, pasta bowls, sandwiches, and "chocolate lava crunch cake"
• McDonald's "cappuccino"
• Noodles & Co.'s sandwiches

Restaurateurs often struggle with writing menus that will attract the most customers as well as finding a balance between doing just a few things (and executing them with excellence) and trying to offer something for everyone. Johnson sees the recent menu creep as a sign that fast-food chains are feeling squeezed:

Even if it doesn't get that bad, it just feels wrong and, frankly, a little desperate. Domino's doing breadsticks, I get: It is total carbohydrate overkill, but it's the same food family. Domino's offering chicken appendages and a fancy dessert "with molten chocolate on the inside" makes me wonder if the chain is suffering an identity crisis.

Would you order a falafel from Subway, or will you stick with the Veggie Delite and wait to eat the fried chickpea balls till your next trip to Falafel King?

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