Back in 2011, a Yelper by the name of Alex B wrote an exclamation point-punctuated review of Snarf's, a homegrown sandwich shop that got its start in Boulder. The sandos are really great, as evidenced by the fact that I've been three work days in a row!!" he gushes, but his review of Snarf's begins with a shout-out to Potbelly Sandwich Shop: "A "Potbelly's substitute has finally arrived in Denver!!! Until Potbelly's decides to franchise here, this is the next best thing!!!!"
A romp through other sandwich shop reviews on the Denver Yelp site also reference Potbelly. "It's my favorite Midwestern chain," declares one Yelper. "Some day, Potbelly's will come and drive all these other places out of business with their cheap prices and delicious hot subs," boldly predicts Matt H, who then describes the sandwiches at Jimmy John's as simply "average."
Mr. H's theory will be tested sooner rather than later, because Potbelly Sandwich Shop, which is headquartered in Chicago, is opening its first store in Denver, in the University Hills Shopping Center, which now has several restaurants, including Lark Burger and the Slotted Spoon.
Its original name, Potbelly Sandwich Works, started, notes the website, in 1977 as a "small antique store run by a nice young couple," who then "decided to bolster their business by making sandwiches for their customers." The sandwiches were a major hit, and in 1996, a guy named Bryant Keil -- now the chairman of Potbelly -- bought the original Chicago store, and has since gone on to open close to 300 Potbelly Sandwich Shops in numerous cities across the country, including New York, Texas, Oregon and Tennessee.
And according to the website, the company might be the world's largest keeper of potbelly stoves. "No one knows for sure, but we're pretty certain that we own the title since there is one in each of our shops around the country," says the website. "It's a symbol of what we are. It's a place where folks gather to grab toasted sandwiches and freshly prepared salads, catch a local musician, enjoy a hand-dipped shake and maybe even make some new friends. We're not just in your neighborhood, we're your neighborhood sandwich shop," continues the verbiage.
Like Snarf's, Potbelly toasts its sandwiches, which number fifteen, and include turkey and Swiss; roast beef and provolone; chicken salad and tuna salad; an Italian sandwich mounted with pepperoni, capicola, mortadella, salami and provolone; and the "Wreck," a sandwich with salami, roast beef, turkey, ham and Swiss. They're available in two sizes: "original" and "big," and there are "skinnys," too, all of which are under 300 calories and stacked between "thin-cut" slices of bread.
In addition, salads, daily soups, chili, side dishes (think coleslaw, macaroni salad, potato salad, chips and dill pickles) ink the menu, which is also stamped with hand-dipped shakes, malts and smoothies; fresh-baked cookies; steel-cut oats, yogurt parfaits and and breakfast sandwiches.
Along with its toasted sandwiches, Potbelly is also known for bringing in live music. "Local musicians are behind our lively groove, and many are pursuing music degrees, while others are seasoned veterans who perform at rock clubs, tour with bands and have released their own albums," says the website.
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The Denver space is currently under construction, and, according to the signage, "opening soon-ish."