After 18 Years At Tutu Park Mall, Subway Closing Its Doors For Good Tomorrow
CHARLOTTE AMALIE — With a nod to the effects of coronavirus on people’s purchasing habits, the world’s largest submarine sandwich chain will close one of its four locations on St. Thomas starting tomorrow.
Subway at Tutu Park Mall is open today, but the restaurant said it will be “permanently” shuttered on Sunday, according to a sign attached to its front door.
“To our valued customers, please note this Subway location will be permanently closing effective Sunday February 28, 2021,” the message states. “Thank you for supporting Subway Tutu Park Mall over the last 18 years.”
The restaurant chain’s local management said customers can still visit Subway locations at Red Hook Plaza, Buccaneer Mall and Nisky Center.
According to its website, the Tutu Park Mall location on St. Thomas was the only outlet on island serving a breakfast menu.
Subway closed as many as 10 percent of its restaurants in 2020 as the coronavirus accelerated the decline of the country’s largest restaurant chain by unit count, according to a variety of sources.
Those sources told Restaurant Business that an estimated 2,200 to 2,400 of the chain’s units closed last year.
Actual numbers were not available. Asked for comment, Subway would not provide the number of restaurants in the chain and noted that the number of permanent closures last year was “lower than your estimate.”
“Subway does not disclose this information, but we can tell you that the figure you provided is not accurate,” the company said in an emailed statement. “The number of permanent closures in 2020 is lower than your estimate, as there are temporary closures due to COVID.”
Subway’s unit-count decline has been well documented. The Milford, Conn.-based sandwich giant has been shrinking for years and closed more than 1,000 locations in both 2018 and 2019. In the five years going into 2020, the chain shrunk by 12% as its franchisees closed more than 3,000 units overall.
Subway entered 2020 with 23,801 locations. If the company closed 2,400 locations it would have 21,401 locations right now, wiping out well over a decade’s worth of unit count growth.
The pandemic has been particularly bad for the company’s locations in malls and in urban areas where industry sales have been weakest.
Meanwhile, the reaction to Rock City losing one of its four Subway location was predictably mellow.
“Permanently. Sorry, it pains me. Sorry for the closing,” Ronnie Lockhart said.
“Big place like that SMH,” Anisha Emanuel said to Ronnie Lockhart.
“Haha, I noticed that, too,” Mimi de Seda said to Ronnie Lockhart.
“EU ruled their bread as cake because it has so much sugar,” Simon Britton said.
“Unfortunately small businesses and us all are affected by this COVID-19 economic slowdown,” Ray Fonseca said. “Plus, when you add in the cost of utilities and rent it makes it even more difficult to remain open.”
“I was just here yesterday and didn’t see this,” Siena Wilkie said. “Did they just post it?”
“So sad and sorry for the owner,” Patty Zelaney said.
“Red Hook Plaza in Brooklyn?” Kevin Murray said. “This dude gets around!”
“Looks like an opportunity for another local sandwich shop,” Taurian Deveaux said. “The ECC has special discounts on commercial rental spaces. Also, the small business center in Nisky can help. If two can agree it lessens the load. Partner up.”
“They could have done takeout,” Hila Babin said. “Order ahead and then someone would bring it out when you texted them.”
“Aw, sorry to hear that,” Mimi Boom said. “I hope the staff will be placed in the other store locations and they don’t lose their job.”
“Which location is closing?” Judith Wheatley asked.
“It says Tutu Park right in the photo,” Jacob Jamieson replied to Judith Wheatley.
“WTF,” Drew Porcupine said.