Downsizing at Subway


When someone recently asked me if I was still writing at the Café Pasadena, I knew it was time – past time – to post something here!   It’s certainly not for a lack of “material”!  I’ve got plenty to write about our city of Pasadena.  Lemme say I’ve turned into a photographer more than writer. But I love doing both. Anyways, lettuce get back to my role as a scribe,…

The Subway name/brand is nearly as recognizable as McDonald’s is in the USA.  So even if they’re not to your taste, it’s unlikely you’ll take your last breath unless you’ve been their customer at least once.  I visit Subway approximately once per month.  Mostly for their 6’’” breakfast sandwich and 16oz coffee combo for $3.75. 

It’s one of the very best breakfast deals.

You can find similar, such as at TOGO’s. But their sandwich is smaller, their coffee cup is smaller, and for giving you less they charge you more: $4.00 here in Pasadena. Don’t ask me to explain the difference.  I’m sure Subway & TOGO’s have very bright, college-grads who have figured out their pricing strategies for them, and, us. 

Sometimes in lieu of price changes businesses will use downsizing as a means to reduce expenses or increase profit.   They give you less or smaller quantity for, initially, the same price. They feel it will work, for among other reasons, because you be less likely to notice or protest the fact they’re giving you less for the same, or sometimes, higher price!

My first recollection of encountering this downsizing business tactic was with rolls of paper towels. Slowly, over a few years, the number of towels per rolls and related thickness of them was decreasing. At first, the price stayed the same, but soon it too changed –  prices increased.  Therefore, with this paper towel industry they had the best of both worlds: downsizing, along with price upswings!

Now, with restaurants you’re entering a very, very competitive business. Everyone from your high-end, $500 a meal celebrity restaurant up to your gasoline stations are selling food & drink.  And everyday eateries are opening, and, closing! 

Subway & TOGO’s are direct competitors. So it wasn’t too surprising to see in the past month  Subway make a move in this breakfast combo race. They chose to downsize their coffee cup from 16oz to only 12oz. Same size as TOGO’s.   25% quantity decrease for the same price.   I suppose it’s similar to a 25% price increase. Even the annual inflation rate is much, much lower!   Price unchanged , for now.




I suppose the smart people at Subway made this decision because they believe it’s either what their customers would want, or which would  benefit the customer. And, therefore, probably benefit Subway. Give the customer what they want and your business will be rewarded!

Now, as far as your customer/writer is concerned, I don’t want to be given less of anything for the same (or, higher) price!   You?  However,  I will give Subway credit for free refills, something that many others don’t. 

My guess to why Subway is offering less coffee to its customers is perhaps they’re paying more for coffee beans or simply to get by with offering less to we the customer  in order to get more profit. Usually companies don’t announce price increases or quantity decreases.  Not the kinda of sales promotion they usually want to promote.

I will say this. This particular downsizing is not gonna stop me from ordering their breakfast combo.  Bet you they are betting this will be the normal customer response.


What about you, my loyal reader: are you inclined to take my view on this downsizing, or are you in agreement with Subway?

Where have you noticed downsizing, or when did you first notice this business tactic?

Do you prefer a price increase over a quantity downsize, or the other way around?



Gotta Go Get Coffee To Write More! Stay Thirsty My Friends

Red rose


With Family…

The annual family holiday of ThanksGiving has just come, and gone.  The holiday season is every month, all year long but ThanksGiving is one of the big ones.  Today, most Americans give thanks a back seat relative to using it as the day to bring the family together to share a meal (for 1 day at least) & watch football games. And now with some retailers opening on Thanksgiving, to get a headstart on Black Friday for buying & consuming even more material things!

Last weekend I got a headstart on some of those traditions – football, and coming together to share a meal with the  USC Alumni (and future alum’s) Association (USCAA) family.  The San Gabriel Valley (SGV) chapter to be exact. Ok, it’s an extended family but we’re like-minded people, the allies, wearers of the white-hats, from the same cardinal & gold blood, those who root for the home/family team!

Alumni associations do many things for their alums in exchange for their membership dues!  Holding football game watching parties where the family/alums meet to eat, drink, and root our team onto victory against the bad guys is only one thing USC AA does. The SGV chapter usually gathers at El Cholo, a spanish/mexican cafe here in Pasadena.  Listen, I don’t eat often at El Cholo, but when I do, it’s always with the SGV USC AA!

As in any family there are bumps in the road and last weekend didn’t go as planned for your poor Dog. I thought it would simply be a nite with family, food, fun, football, and then catch up on sleep deprivation.

Our game watch gatherings always bring in a good crowd, yet for some reason (no sleep?) I convinced myself that this would be less crowded than normal.  For one, we’re only playing Colorado!   The first change in my simple plan: upon arrival at kick-off this is the 1st scene I saw…IMG_8615

The Main Bar. This is just a snapshot of the Trojans in the bar! And believe me – just a tiny portion of the USC alumni in the SGV. The bar was SRO and the walking aisle was a bumper to bumper lane of traffic. 



Ok, no problem. Most of the dining space at El Cholo is reserved for our game watching events – and besides, it’s the bar – so I’m sure there’s some empty seats elsewhere.  I visited the dining room overlooking Colorado Blvd and took a look…

IMG_8626 Also packed in.  Later, I would come back to this dining room to tell an alumna, “Heard the bad news? ucla won.”  She replied, “No they didn’t. They lost!”  I went back & forth with her trying to convince her I was right & she was wrong!  Fortunately I woke-up to tell her: “You’re right! I’m wrong.”  Blame it on the margarita I downed I told her.  (We were rooting for ucla to defeat the sun devils!  ucla was no help. What else is new.)


Next, I checked out the dining room on the other side of the bar… 


Again, beyond capacity. Busier than I anticipated alright. In fact, it was the biggest turnout of the 3 game watches  I’ve attended this season.


Nevertheless, seating would not be the main problem.  There was still one area with some seats available and 2 big wide screen TV’s: the Al Fresco outdoor dining area!

And it’s where I met the problem!  Q: Why were these Trojans watching a game with Baylor  playing?? A: Cuz these 2 TV’s literally not connected to the Pac 12 cable network!   Seats, but without our USC game on these same 2 TVs which have had our games before??  So much for my simple plan for the nite.

So the game was on – but not on our sets!  I was scrambling around to make sure the organizers and El Cholo knew the problem and reassuring the alums that a solution was coming.


Another thing that didn’t go according to my plans: I did not eat, besides settling for the chips/salsa of the alumni from South Pasadena at our table! However, I made sure to shoot some porn from my friends at the next table!  Food porn. It was that kind of a busy night for me.IMG_8632 


But I did have a nice drink to celebrate & toast our victory over Colorado last Saturday nite!





Oh yeah, we finally got the Al Fresco TV’s correctly connected to our game on the Pac12 channel… in the 2nd quarter. I watched most of the game here…



In addition to my main seat on the patio Al Fresco, I got around to view the game from each of our reserved areas I previously showed, even though it usually meant standing or sitting with a view, and, an angle…





Now it’s a new weekend, with new threats to the family. Tonite it’s those growlin’ animals the ucla bruins who feed off your trash-cans/dumpsters, the bad guys from across town.  They’ll again try to disrupt the peace & love of our family, especially with our injuries and manpower shortage. And once again we’ll have to rally behind Tommy Trojan & Traveler to protect all that is good & peaceful in the family. Time to spoil the bruin plan.


On days like Thanksgiving, if it doesn’t stress you out!, it’s good to eat at the family table, at least once a year.  But on days/weeks like the last it’s even better if you have another family, an extended family, that bleeds your own cardinal & gold.  Btw, the USC AA holds raffles at halftime.  No-Luck me actually had my name called & won something!  That wasn’t in my plans either – it was that kind of a nite.


Gotta fight off bruins tonite. Stay Thirsty My Friends, and, Fight On!


Open House: Urth Caffe Pasadena

Restaurants open & close – always. In this industry especially it’s been nearly as reliable as a politician breaking a campaign promise.  So do businesses in general to a lesser degree – like Zinke’s shoe repair shop & The White Hut in Pasadena.

So when I happened to meet the district manager (DM) of the Southern Cal Urth Caffe’s, during a stroll in the Playhouse District, she told me about the upcoming “grand opening” of their newest right here in Pasadena.  My reaction was, “Oh, Ok.”

You see, I’ve been hearing about & seeing the coming of the Pasadena Urth Caffe (UC) for about three years now. Losing Zinke’s shoe shop & The White Hut, which had some history in Pasadena, from that corner was probably the clearest sign something new, and hopefully better, was coming.  Nevertheless, the bulldozing of those old businesses revealed some other Pasadena history, as I wrote here: All About The Watchmaker.


Urth Caffe has been around for about 20 yrs with locations from Downtown LA westward to Santa Monica. However, their 1st caffe began on Melrose in West Hollywood. That was also the place I had my 1st and only experience with UC back in the 90’s.  UC was a popular cafe when it first opened, even for WeHo, and celebrities were often seen there. 


This “grand opening” on August 18th was actually an Open House. Nothing was actually being bought or sold, no regular hours nor full menu. This would be the day for a FREE sampling of their food & drinks as UC’s offer to be known & accepted by its potential customers in the vicinity. It would also be my return visit to UC since that time in West Hollywood back in the 20th Century.  IF UC were closer I wouldn’t have waited until this century to return.


Perhaps you were one of those who made it to their open house.  The event ran from 12-7pm. Around 10:30am I passed by and already a few dozen people were lining up outside, starving to get inside for the FREE food/drinks. I figured these were some of Pasadena’s young & homeless dressed in their Sunday best.


After the Open House I told the DM that I would write about this new UC but I wasn’t sure if it would be this Open House or the Grand Opening planned for September. Her response: “Both!”   Sure.  She understandably didn’t how productive & lazy this blogger is.  For now, lemme just continue with this write up on the open house.


Lemme talk less & put up some pics from that FREE day.

UC asked the city to close down their street on Madison Avenue. I assume bicycles were given equal treatment with motor vehicles.





I alerted some of my Pasadena foodie friends of this FREE event. When I first arrived on the scene I saw a brunch of people standing & sitting.  I went to talk with a police officer to make sure she was aware of the FREE food & drink when I was approached by the head honcho of the Downtown Pasadena Neighborhood Residents Association and bike hugger. Well, at least one person listened to me!



I saw brunches of people, but where was the FREE food??  Luckily, I promptly recognized the DM and she directed me on the straight & narrow.  After barely thanking her I immediately recognized another friend who listens to me, Jian, by her USC jersey. She’s a special breed: loves to eat but also loves to cook. Hell, she’s just full of love!


Our 1st stop upon entering the caffe were drinks: lemonade, teas, and water.






Next stop was coffee. UC brought in some of their best barista’s from their other locations.  They went virtually non-stop putting out Latte’s, Spanish Latte’s, and regular reliable coffee.

Coffee Station. They brot in their best Barista's among their UC's.



Next station held sliders, sandwiches, and sweets.  From my recollection, among the sliders & sandwiches were grilled cheeze, Panini’s, turkey burgers, & chicken curry.  Sweets included cheezecake, flourless chocolate cake,  carrot cake, tiramisu, and coconut cake.







We filled up! – we only had 2 hands & small plates. But this was like Korean All You Can Eat BBQ or American All You Can Eat Souplantation (w/o the price tag), so we made happy returns!





Inside looking out. For those who simply wanted to street people watch…




Another person I recognized was a Pasadena Media cameraman (sitting on the right corner) who was there to document another local event.  We chatted about our last event.



For some reason the water station wasn’t quite as busy as the others.




Although the lines moved very quickly, the treats sometimes came to the people on that warm day.




I sampled a few of these.




The Photographers Photographer.  Suddenly among the customers one customer sets up a microphone and begins to sing. Not just any singer: an Opera singer,  who I overheard was Golda the daughter of the owners, Shallom & Jilla Berkman.  UC providing FREE entertainment as well!




UC was assisted by a catering company which has also catered big events such as celebrity award shows.  It was no surprise then when the open house closed for the day there were still boxes and trays of food.



Behind me were the last customers – 2 beautiful girls: “We never been to Urth Caffe.”  “We just moved to Pasadena.” Oh, and where did y’all come from? “Michigan” & “Tennessee.”  Oh. Can I ask what brought you both to Pasadena? “Work.”  I shared a piece of Pasadena history with these newest Pasadenan’s, although I miss the old-timers and their long history with our city.  Another couple of girls I happened to know were shut out. They sadly came a minute too late. I gave them some of my pumpkin pie to lift their spirits.


Anyway, it’s too bad this was the only day I could eat FREE Cafe food!  Thank God it wasn’t the only day: below is a sample of what was in my Doggy bag for my happy meal the next day! 






This Open House is in the books. Hope you got to attend, but if not, UC plans another FREEBIE day when their next UC opens. Hope it’s nearby!  Since that day, UC had a soft opening last Monday: limited hours with only pastries & drinks for now while they fully staff & train their kitchen to handle the full menu. Although I was given a date of September 2nd when they would be ready to fully open and truly have a “grand opening”, it’s best I hold off until I see it with my own eyes.  Restaurant openings have  a tendency to change.

So, Pasadena has another new restaurant.  Check out the Urth, at the southeast corner of Colorado Blvd & Madison, and lemme know what you think.  Whether it becomes a regular stop for you will depend on your personal taste buds & budget, of course. On this particular day I had no complaints!


Gotta Go: Gotta eAT! Stay Thirsty My Friends