Potbelly Sandwich Shop opens today uptown. Here’s why I love it so much

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In 2005 my life changed forever. Let me set the scene: That was the year Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Tom Cruise jumped on Oprah’s couch, and the classic tune, “Candy Shop,” by 50 Cent was at the top of the charts … for nine weeks. (Judging you a little, 2005).

I was a student living in Washington, D.C., and interning at a magazine called DC Style, where I wrote influential articles like “Why diamond dog collars are so in right now.” And because I needed fuel for this kind of “Spotlight”-like reporting, I’d plan my day around taking a long lunch.

One day, on my lunch quest, a restaurant down the block caught my eye. It appeared to be a fairly nondescript deli, but the long line convinced me I must be missing something inside its glass doors. So I made my first trip to a Potbelly Sandwich Shop.

Anyone who has been on a first date with the person they ultimately marry understands what I felt. That first bite of a Potbelly sandwich rendered all previous sandwich bites pointless. I instantly regretted all the wasted afternoons I’d spent with Subway’s subs. I tried to block out the night I’d spent with a Quiznos turkey club. All I could think was that God had blessed the broken road that brought me straight to this warm and toasty sandwich.

You see, Potbelly sandwiches are served on thick and fluffy bread. They’re best when topped with some warm turkey, melted Swiss cheese, lettuce, onion, tomato, mayo, and seasoning. But what makes Potbelly sandwiches the kind of things that make me want to write Shakespearean sonnets are the hot peppers. They’re a mix of serranos, jalapenos, and red bell peppers, all packed in oil — and they take a sub from “Pretty tasty” to “Everyone else please leave. I need a moment alone with this sandwich.”

Congratulations, Charlotte. Today you get your first taste of Potbelly when the sandwich shop opens on South Tryon Street. I imagine when someone is making a Charlotte historical timeline in the future it’ll include things like the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, Billy Graham’s birth and this day.

So celebrate accordingly with a sub — and toast the occasion with one of Potbelly’s hand-dipped shakes. Oh, and hurry up. Because I’m getting there early and can’t make any promises to leave subs for others.

Potbelly Sandwich Shop: 320 S. Tryon St. (where the Salsarita’s used to be at the entrance of Latta Arcade). 

Photo: Corey Inscoe

10 COMMENTS

  1. Not sure what all the excitement is over corporate food chains. The differences between Potbelly, Subway, Jimmy John’s, etc. are negligible. Also not sure that “Why diamond dog collars are so in” is much better than “Potbelly opens today. Here’s why I’m excited.” We’re better than this, Charlotte.

    • Oh, Andrew. Poor, poor, dear Andrew. You’ve never eaten at a Potbelly, have you? You’ve never experienced the euphoric high of that first bite of crusty bread soaked in hot pepper oil… or the soul-killing low of the last bite of a perfect sandwich. I feel sorry for you, Andrew. Not as sorry as I feel for dogs that don’t have diamond dog collars, of course. But sorry, nonetheless. Go get some Potbelly and cheer up!

  2. I’d say in general, corporate restaurants don’t always put awesome taste first, but there are the exceptions like In-N-Out and Chick-fil-A that almost everyone agrees is good. I live in the PNW and we take great pride in our restaurants being local. Potbelly, however, is the one corporate sandwich shop that always has a line outside. Those sandwiches are memorable for sure with their tasty bread and hot peppers. Whew. I’m glad Charlotte is finally getting one for when I visit.

  3. Sarah you poor delusional dear. You need to get out more. Try Mancino’s or Penn Central on Remount Road. Coming from Chicago where Potbelly is like Walgreen’s on every corner.

    • Vic! You come from the Potbelly Motherland and STILL say these things? Did you also boo when the Cubs won? Do you hate deep dish pizza and wind? Vic, it’s time to let it go. Potbelly will welcome you back–with open doors and warm subs.

  4. While the metaphors and imagery in this article were enjoyable, it would have been nice to learn a little bit more information. Other menu suggestions. Some history of the chain. The fact that they are trying to open four other locations. Food for thought.

  5. Andrew is probably a hardcore liberal who probably chews organic gum (Just kidding). Sarah, we have been waiting on Potbelly’s to open here for 5 years. The closest location before today was in Greensboro so we would head up there for our fix. My favorite sandwich is the chicken salad sandwich with hot peppers. That thing has gotten me out of the doghouse several times. Also, you cannot resist their bite size oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. The Greensboro folks know us now because we used to order 5-6 bags at a time. For 3.98 a dozen, it’s not a bad price…

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