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