6 Things You Didn’t Know About Potbelly Sandwich Works

This sandwich shop is on a roll
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The first location opened inside an antique store in 1977.

There’s been a huge push toward more “fast casual” dining recently, and chains like Panera, Chipotle, and Potbelly are reaping the benefits. Potbelly Sandwich Works, which was founded in 1977, has taken off in recent years, with around 300 locations nationwide. The menu includes a variety of made-to-order sandwiches as well as soups, salads, shakes, malts, smoothies, and cookies, and many feature live music from local musicians during lunch hours.

Here are six things you most likely didn’t know about Potbelly Sandwich Works.

It All Started with an Antique Shop

A couple who ran a Chicago antique shop one day decided to start selling toasted sandwiches and homemade desserts, and soon enough lines reached  around the block on a daily basis. In 1996 an entrepreneur named Bryant Keil bought the shop and converted it into a full-scale restaurant, but kept much of the menu and the lunchtime live music tradition.

They’re the World’s Largest Collector of Potbelly Stoves

The antique potbelly stove was a holdover from the first restaurant’s days as an antique store (and original owner Peter Hastings refurbished potbelly stoves there), and today every location is home to one. Each is unique, and is meant to symbolize gathering with family and friends over a good meal.

They Promise a Wait of No More than 8 Minutes

Employees are trained to work fast.

They’re Going Green

They’ve taken up a handful of green initiatives, including recycling, paper packaging, energy efficiency, and eco-friendly cleaning chemicals.

Their Regular Bread is Vegan

The only reason their multigrain bread isn’t vegan is because it has honey in it.

There’s an “Underground Menu”


There are a bunch of off-menu items, including peanut butter and jelly, the Elvis (peanut butter, bacon, and bananas), and the Wrecking Ball (ham, turkey, roast beef, salami, and meatballs).