The Subway restaurant chain has been busy this quarter, opening stores throughout the world. Between Oct. 1 and Dec. 21, the chain’s franchisees opened more than 500 restaurants, according to spokesman Les Winograd.

Subway increased the number of its prototype café stores, such as the one in Milwaukee, Wis. They are typically found in office buildings. “It’s a huge step up from fast food. This one has a fireplace. It’s a place to get away for a break.” Is it a cross between the traditional fast food store and Starbucks? “Kind of, yes,” says Winograd.

Based in Milford, Conn., the chain now has more than 33,700 locations across the globe. The figure is updated daily. “The month of December isn’t over yet. We’re still opening restaurants,” says Winograd.

The 500 newest shops total 600,000 sq. ft. of retail space and have about 5,000 employees. The shops average about 1,200 sq. ft. apiece, although some are larger and some, far smaller.

In Brazil alone, the chain now has 500 restaurants as of the fourth quarter. Subway reached 50 locations in Malaysia during the quarter. In California, the chain now has 2,400 locations, the largest number of any state.

Subway franchisees have established thousands of restaurants in such non-traditional locations as hospitals, airports, and even a zoo in Taiwan.

In 1984, the chain opened its first overseas location in the Middle Eastern nation of Bahrain. Now it has more than 9,000 individually owned and operated restaurants outside of the U.S.