An antique in of itself, the Potbelly sandwich comes with a bountiful heritage identical to its deliciously rich fillings. What started as a small antique store in 1977 run by a quaint, nice young couple, unexpectedly turned into a flourishing sandwich business with the wife’s use of the traditional Potbelly oven as a sandwich toaster for snacks made to visitors and passersby. Used as a tool to bolster business in the competitive world of antique-dealing, the couple never expected the warm and toasted sandwiches to become an instant hit; people who couldn’t care less about vintage glass doorknobs were stopping by to enjoy special sandwiches and homemade desserts in this unusual atmosphere.
As the years passed, the lines grew. Booths were added, along with ovens for toasting sandwiches to perfection, hand-dipped ice cream – even great music. A signature element present in today’s many Potbelly Sandwich shops is the vintage photograph of the first live jazz band entertaining Potbelly goers outside the sandwich shop, a reminder of a charming time, and timelessly mouthwatering great sandwiches. Soon enough, the little antique shop became a full-fledged, totally unique sandwich joint. When entrepreneur Bryant Keil brought the original sandwich shop to Lincoln Avenue in Chicago in 1996, the true journey for Potbelly began. Keil, along with his team of experts, embarked on taking the original Potbelly experience to new heights, obsessing over every detail of each new store to ensure that they maintained the authentic charm and heritage of the original store. With a current standing of over 200 stores, Potbelly remains a neighborhood favorite, and a welcome addition to the local dining scene in Kuwait in the heart of the Avenues shopping haven.
As soon as we heard about the opening of the new sandwich joint, we invited blogger, and bonafide foodie, Ansam AlRadwan (www.ansam5I8.com) to join us in sampling the authentic Potbelly experience. Upon our arrival, we are transfixed with the smiling staff eagerly inviting us inside; the charm of a vintage shop quickly takes over. Potbellies in different sizes and forms are apparent throughout the shop, along with grand wooden tables, walls adorned with antique posters, and the rising aroma of warm toasted bread ushering us closer to have our taste of Potbelly greatness. Known for toasty warm sandwiches, extra good soups and salads, and cookies that are baked every day, we decided to try the whole Potbelly package.
The actual experience of ordering couldn’t be simpler or faster than ordering at a fast food joint, except that the difference in taste and quality is monumental. First of all, you simply choose your sandwich and bread. For the breads available, you choose between two sizes of bread, the original or bigger size, and then you have your option between regular or healthier multigrain. Do not be fooled, as healthier does not mean tasteless. If anything, the multigrain bread makes for a richer flavor when deciding on one of the delicious fillings on offer. For health watchers, you can order your bread “thin-cut” for about a third less bread, leaving off the mayo, and loading up on lettuce, tomatoes, or sliced pickles.
As soon as your choice is made, the friendly staff places your sandwich through the oven to appear mere minutes later, and that’s where all the fun begins; when you enter the sandwich fantasy of your dreams. Double up with meats, extra cheese or mushrooms, extra hot peppers and veggies a plenty. Then it’s done; Potbelly greatness between your fingers in absolutely no time.
As we earlier decided, we ordered the broccoli cheddar soup, a heartwarming start, as well as the uptown salad. Diced cubes of juicy grilled chicken, dried cranberries, whole grapes, diced red onions and apples, with crumbled blue cheese and candied walnuts, this salad was an instant hit with us, especially with our customized dressing of ranch with a dash of balsamic vinegar. Not only so, the kind people at Potbelly also offer you the choice of dressing and tossing your salad for you, so the perfect marriage between dressing and salad happens even before you crack open the lid. Offering a great value meal on its own, the salad is quite filling, and we had to take a long pause in order for us to dig into our sandwich choices. Instead, we each sipped on a hand-dipped, real strawberry ice cream milkshake that is made with love, as the milkshake comes with a cute little butter cookie on the straw. We got two of them.
Torn between inhaling the creamy goodness of the milkshakes, and finishing off the salad, we decided to calm our nerves, and give our taste buds a whiff of the freshly toasted sandwiches.
The passion for food couldn’t be more apparent in these delicious Potbelly sandwiches. From simple smoked turkey breast, traditional meatballs tossed in marinara sauce and provolone cheese, to all-star favorites like the carnivorous ‘Wreck’, the select ingredients signify the Potbelly greatness. Going for the ‘Wreck’ as one of our sandwich choices, we glanced at its meaty filling, and immediately understood why Potbelly became a sandwich sensation rather than an antique store. Made with roast beef, old world salami, oven roasted turkey breast, hickory smoked turkey and melted Swiss cheese, each bite was a perfect balance between the veggie toppings we opted for, and the meaty variety. Another favorite of ours included the grilled chicken and cheddar cheese sandwich, along with leafy toppings, mustard and mayo. Trying this sandwich on regular bread rather than multigrain, our testament is slightly changed, as our bread verdict approves both as equally delicious! Although we ordered two original sized sandwiches and went for halves, we were so surprised to be completely stuffed.
Ansam, however, would truly make for a welcome addition to our dining guide tasters, as her eagerness to try dessert matched, if not rivaled, ours. Holding the urge to go all out and try the ice cream sandwiches, we tried the homemade brownie cookie, as well as an unforgettable oatmeal and chocolate chip cookie. Both were still warm and chewy, fresh out of the oven, and melted in the mouth upon contact—those cookies, with their outrageous goodness, delivered the truly desired, earth-shattering effect that is only induced by the successful cookie.
Will we be going back to Potbelly? Absolutely! And we’re pretty sure we’ll be running into Ansam, munching on a ‘Wreck’ sandwich, her new favorite. On a more editorial note, we will be going back to Potbelly for its great tasting sandwiches, good vibes, and its quick and breezy ordering process. By the time we were done with our meal, we witnessed a birthday group come inside, place their what-seemed-like-an-endless order, receive their sandwiches, sit, eat and sing happy birthday. This large group was served in less than ten minutes! Coffee lovers on the go come in and order their favorite Starbucks fix (Starbucks coffee is sold in store, as well) along with their Potbelly sandwich, and promptly leave after quickly having their meals. In a bustling mall like the Avenues, Potbelly is the charming haven filled with good vibes, and great sandwiches.
Get your own Potbelly, and make your sandwich dreams come true, by heading to the food world at Phase II of the Avenues. For more information, please visit www.Potbelly.com or call 22581997.