A New Yorker cartoon by David Sipress depicts a couple sitting in a Starbucks cafe. Its caption reads, “Are we in this Starbucks or the one down the street?”

The same could be said for Subway. In fact, when it comes to locations, Subway beats Starbucks hands down, with more than 26,000 stores in the United States to Starbucks’ 12,000. In Saline there is not a single Starbucks, but construction is almost complete on Washtenaw County’s first drive-thru Subway.

“We hope to open by June tenth,” franchise co-owner Sanjay Patel said in May. Once it does, he and partner Bhargavi Joshi will close the Subway they own in the Parkside Plaza on W. Michigan. The new location will be within a mile and half of two other Saline Subway stores, one in the Country Creek Plaza, also on E. Michigan, and another right across the street from that one, located inside Walmart. But that doesn’t faze Patel in the least. He points out that Saline has supported three Subways for years, and all have an interest in one another’s success: he and Joshi also own the Country Creek store, Joshi alone owns the Walmart location–and Joshi’s father, Navin Sheravia, manages the jointly-owned Subway that’s moving.

Patel is optimistic about the new location. “I noticed a shift in energy toward that area,” he says. And when he learned that Subway was starting to offer drive-thru, he researched it thoroughly and visited drive-thru Subways in Wayne and Oakland counties. “I saw only positive results,” Patel says. “For many reasons, a lot of people don’t want to get out of their cars. Maybe they have a short lunch break or small children, or they are older people. Or, it may be weather related.”

Originally from a village about 300 miles from Mumbai, Patel loves the United States. He and his wife have two children, one in college and the other in high school. Patel has owned Subway stores for more than seventeen years, including locations in Novi, Farmington Hills, Rochester Hills, and Ypsilanti.

Patel is passionate about the Subway brand. He values most the fact that its products are fresh and endorsed by the American Heart Association. “Yes, customers get their food quickly. It is fast, but Subway is the leader when it comes to healthy fast food. I am proud of that,” he says. Since the drive-thru Subway will be twice as big as the Parkside Plaza location, Patel plans to hire about ten new employees.

Subway, 1010 E. Michigan (The Oaks), 429-3267. Mon.-Sat. 7 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m.-9 p.m.