Sandwich chain Quiznos hasn't yet emerged from a nearly decade-long slump that led it to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March 2014. The Denver-based chain closed more than 300 domestic locations this year; there are now just 690 restaurants left in the country, compared to almost 5,000 in 2006.
Overseas, Quiznos isn't faring much better. There are now 575 international locations, down from 626 in 2014. "The brand anticipated closures after filing Chapter 11, and did not expect those closures to happen over night," a representative for the company said in an email. "There is a certain amount of loss Quiznos had to plan for over time."
"The longer a chain brand declines, the longer it takes to get back to growth," Darren Tristano, president of restaurant research firm Technomic, told BuzzFeed News.
Quiznos is experimenting with updates at a few Denver stores including "a new POS system, restaurant level-efficiencies, employee training and a focus on premium products, and elevated customer experience," the rep said. She added that customer satisfaction scores at these locations are up and "everyone is already excited about the momentum underway."
Quiznos also is testing a new higher-end concept called Quiznos Grill that will serve new hot sandwiches, salads, "signature Not-chos," craft sodas, lemonades, local beers and wine on tap.
Quiznos, founded in 1981 and known for toasted subs, had once been the fastest-growing restaurant chain in the U.S. But issues with pricing, declining franchise profits and lawsuits from franchisees, and competition with other sandwich chains eventually led to its demise.
Even after completing its financial restructuring, emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July 2014, and appointing new CEO Doug Pendergast earlier this year, it hasn't managed a recovery.
"You can always turn around a formerly successful chain but it is very difficult and we have seen very few examples of success," Tristano said. "But it's certainly not impossible." Marvel Comics filed for bankruptcy in 1996 and is now an entertainment juggernaut.
In the years that Quiznos has shrunk, the sandwich game has changed. Among the 10 fastest growing restaurants in a 2015 ranking by Nation's Restaurant News were sandwich chains Jersey Mike's, Firehouse Subs, and Jimmy John's. Still, Quiznos has maintained some loyal fans.