Potbelly Sandwich Shop serves up delicious toasted subs and amazing milkshakes. With locations in 30 states, there’s likely a location near you.
Earlier this month, I was in Maryland visiting family and friends. I go every summer, as my final relax/rewind/recharge before the insanity of football season hits. The first game isn’t until Labor Day, but the prep days are nonstop until the first home game.
Heather and I have been friends for about 20 years. We worked together in the athletic department at Maryland, and we have been there for each other through thick and thin, good and bad. Most important, we have remained very close. My vacation almost always falls around her birthday, so our annual tradition is lunch at Marathon Deli. We pulled into the parking lot, and saw that everything was closed because the sidewalk was under construction. We regrouped, and decided on Potbelly Sandwich Shop instead.
Potbelly began in 1977 in Illinois, by a couple who owned an antique shop and began selling sandwiches to customers. Bryant Kiel bought the location in 1996, and began to franchise.
Potbelly was one of my early blog reviews, but the pictures were horrible. I’ve been meaning to get back for ages, but the problem is location. Potbelly has locations in 30 states, plus a few international shops. If they can have a location in Kuwait, they can expand into Oklahoma.
The College Park location is in the heart of downtown, on Route 1, and has a prime corner location. It’s not a huge space, but it is very open and both sides facing the street have huge windows. The seating is a combination of regular tables, high-boys and booths, with seating for approximately 50. The decor is primarily Maryland-related.
There was a musician playing the guitar and singing when we arrived. I’d never seen that in a fast-casual restaurant before, especially at lunch. I learned that music at lunchtime is normal at Potbelly, and occurs in locations across the country. What a great way to set yourself apart from the competition.
Potbelly is a fast-casual concept. As you wait in line to order, there is a large sign above with the menu items. Bottled beverages are in a cooler at the first stop in the line, and you pick up a bag of chips as you walk through the line.
The Potbelly menu is surprisingly large, featuring sandwiches, salads, soups/chili, sides, breakfast, shakes/malts/smoothies, and baked goods. I’d never noticed the breakfast option before, so I’m not sure how long it has been available. Breakfast is not available in every location, so if you’re wanting breakfast, make sure to check first.
You choose from 2 sizes of subs: original and big. The bread choices are regular, multigrain, and flatbread. There are 14 regular sub options, plus 6 skinnys (450 calories or less). The toppings are complimentary, and you can add as many as you want. Avocado is available seasonally, for an upcharge.
Potbelly offers cole slaw, macaroni salad, potato salad, and potato chips as sides. I always go with the chips, because quite honestly I didn’t know that other sides are available! You can choose from Lay’s, Sun Chips, and Zapps, a Louisiana-based company. These kettle chips are thick cut and the flavors I’ve tried are delicious.
Heather got the chicken salad sub
I didn’t try any, but she said it’s one of her favorite things on the menu.
I got the turkey breast with Swiss and avocado. Yes, avocado is an upcharge, but sometimes it’s worth it for creamy, delicious avocado.
I almost always get this sub, because it never disappoints. The bread is crispy on the outside, chewy inside. The toppings are always fresh, and they are generous with the portions.
The best thing about Potbelly? The hand-made milkshakes.
Heather did the chocolate malt, and said it’s better than the malts at the on-campus dairy. I always get the Oreo shake. I love the mini cookies on top, especially because the cookies match the type of shake or malt. My milkshake was thick and rich, and full of Oreos.
Out of curiosity, I checked into franchise costs to open a Potbelly. No surprise, it’s way out of the price range or me or any of my friends. I do hope Potbelly expands into Oklahoma soon, as it would be a huge hit.
For reviews of more restaurants in the College Park area, click on the photos below!