You may have had your occasional cravings for one of Potbelly’s delectable submarine sandwiches, as well as its other offerings like soups, smoothies, and shakes. But there’s a lot more to this restaurant chain than meets the eye, and there are so many interesting facts that all sandwich aficionados would love to hear. Knowing about how Potbelly began and how it expanded to the popular chain that it is today can also give a lot of insight about what makes up successful restaurants.
How Did Potbelly’s Begin?
- Potbelly’s beginnings date back to as early as 1977.
- It began as an antique store.
How many restaurants can claim that it began not as a store offering food but as a store selling antiques? Potbelly actually began when a young couple that owned this small and quirky antique shop started serving lunch to their customers. The unique ambience of the store and the good food started becoming a hit, and that’s how everything began.
- The original antique store that eventually became the first Potbelly restaurant was located in 2264, North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.
- Bryant Kell bought the original Potbelly store and expanded throughout the country, trying to recreate the original one as much as possible.
Tracing Potbelly’s Journey
- It was only after 2 full decades that the 2nd shop was opened, following the original one in Chicago, Illinois.
- A year later in 1998, Potbelly ventured into catering.
- Potbelly opened its 10th shop in 2002.
- By 2005, Potbelly would have opened new shops in Washington, D.C., Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, Houston, Baltimore, and Dallas. Potbelly has reached far and wide since its roots in Chicago.
- It was also in 2005 that Potbelly opened its 100th store, earning Potbelly a place in Inc. Magazine’s “America’s 500 Fastest Growing Private Companies.”
- 2007 saw even more innovations as Potbelly opened its 1st drive-thru.
- Currently, there are more than 280 Potbelly sandwich shops nationwide.
All About the Food
- Potbelly’s promise, about the food and the service, has always been “Fresh. Fast. Friendly.”
- By “Fresh” they mean all the ingredients – from the vegetables to the whole meats to the cheeses – are handpicked and freshly prepared. This means your cucumbers will always be crispy and your roasted red peppers will always be just delightful on the taste buds. Each batch of cookies is also freshly made.
- Potbelly’s is committed to get you in line and out of the line in 8 minutes flat. This means they’ll take your order and have it in your hands as fast as they can without compromising quality.
- To keep the freshness of the meats and cheeses, these are hand-sliced in the shop when the order is made.
- If you want to reward yourself with 30% more of everything, you may also order the BIGS sandwich variety.
- Health buffs may order Skinnys sandwiches, which contain 30% less fat than the regular sandwich offerings.
- Potbelly is also committed to nutrition, so you can actually find a handy nutrition calculator in their website, for ALL the items in the menu. It contains all nutrition info and allergen info, so if you need these to keep your diet on track, you can always use it to your heart’s content.
Taking Green Initiatives Seriously
- Recycling happens at 70% of Potbelly’s shops. Even old bulbs are recycled.
- Potbelly takes packaging for the environment seriously, and this is why you rarely (if at all) encounter Styrofoam, clamshells, and metallic wrappers. They use recyclable and compostable materials to ensure that the environment is taken care of.
- The reason why you’ll find compact fluorescent lamps in Potbelly’s stores is that this switch reduces energy consumption by as much as 20%.
- Potbelly’s brown pint sandwich bag and napkins are actually made of post-consumer recycled material. The sandwich bag alone saves 56 tons of virgin pulp, 175 gallons of diesel, and 945 pounds of CO2 emissions on a yearly basis.
- As much as possible, all chemicals used in the store carries the Designed for the Environment (DFE) designation of the EPA. Even the paint used is the one that’s low in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
Other Interesting Facts
- There’s a Potbelly stove in every shop all around the country, as a tribute to earlier times when stoves were warm gathering places for family, friends, and neighbors in their homes and communities. The same warmth can be found in every neighborhood Potbelly Sandwich Shop.
- In every Potbelly shop, you’ll find artifacts specially created in each local neighborhood. These are products of the artists and craftsmen from the Potbelly Workshop.
- Potbelly is committed to giving their customers a good time, so you can even catch a live musician during some days.
- You can host your very own fundraiser in any Potbelly shop, and 25% of the sales will be donated to your cause.