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How it All Began

A quiet antique store turns into a happening sandwich shop

Long before the sandwiches were toasted and cookies were on the straws, there was a young couple who owned an antique shop. This quirky shop of memories was doing well, but the determined pair knew they could always do better.

They decided to start serving lunch to their curious, collecting customers. Little did they know that the simple sandwiches served in this unique atmosphere would cause such a fuss, with lines reaching out the door and around the corner. As time passed the "little antique shop that could" was slowly turning into quite the lunchtime getaway, complete with toasty warm sandwiches, homemade desserts and even live music.

In 1996, an ambitious, entrepreneurial young man named Bryant Keil bought the original store on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. Together with his team, Bryant set out to spread the Potbelly love across the country, creating shops with the same neighborhood feel as the original.

Today, the magic continues with more than 400 Potbelly Sandwich Shops in neighborhoods around the country.

The original antiques store that became Potbelly
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Bryant Keil

Founding Chairman

Bryant Keil In 1996, fueled by a powerful combination of intense taste buds and the desire to spread the love of the growing Potbelly fans, proven entrepreneur, Bryant Keil, acquired Potbelly Sandwich Works, a unique and wonderful neighborhood sandwich joint located on Chicago's Lincoln Avenue. Since 1996, Potbelly has grown from the one shop on Lincoln Avenue, to include over 400 shops in neighborhoods across the country.

While Potbelly shops are popping up everywhere, Bryant, as Founding Chairman, is dedicated to preserving the individuality of each shop in an attempt to keep Potbelly from becoming just another fast food chain.

Although Bryant takes a low-key approach to building the business, the outside world has taken notice of the success of Potbelly. Bryant is the 2007 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award recipient. He was named the 2003 Illinois Restaurateur of the Year by the Illinois Restaurant Association. Crain's Chicago Business tapped Keil as one of its "40 under 40" young business leaders, INC Magazine listed Potbelly as one of our nation's 500 fastest growing companies and Crain's listed Potbelly as the 8th fastest growing company in Chicago. In 2008, Bryant was also named a Henry Crown Fellow, a part of the Aspen Institute. Among his other accomplishments are his involvement in investment and entrepreneurial ventures, primarily focused in the hospitality industry.

Bryant is an active member in several community and volunteer organizations including the Economic Club of Chicago, Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, The Young Presidents Organization, Field Museum, Kohl Children’s Museum, Big Shoulders Fund, and Best Buddies.

Potbelly Sandwich Shop through the years...

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Founded as a small antique store on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago

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Bryant Keil acquires Potbelly


Opened 2nd shop


Began catering menu


Opened 1st airport restaurant at Midway (Chicago)
1st breakfast store


Opened 10th shop
Opened first shop in Washington, D.C.


Opened shops in Michigan, Wisconsin, Baltimore & Minnesota


Opened first shop in Dallas


Opened shops in Ohio & Houston
Introduced the Box O' Sandwiches
Opened 100th store and was named one of "America's 500 Fastest Growing Private
Companies" by Inc. Magazine


8th in Crain's Business "50 Fastest Growing Companies"
Opened shops in Austin & Philadelphia
Celebrated 30th anniversary
Expanded breakfast menu
Opened 1st drive-thru


Online Ordering launched nationwide
Opened 200th store
Opened in Kentucky


BIGS sandwiches are created
-approximately 30% more of what you love
Skinnys sandwiches offered
-30% less fat than Originals


Uptown and Farmhouse grilled chicken salads


Launched Grilled Chicken & Cheddar sandwich
Chocolate Brownie Cookie added to fresh-baked dessert line-up
Opened in New York City
Opened in Seattle
Opened in United Arab Emirates


New Mediterranean sandwich
Boston debut
Phoenix & St. Louis shops open
Opened in Kuwait
Opened in Bahrain


Opened in Kansas City
Launched "Potbelly Choice" beverage variety program, offering
Pepsi, Coke & Dr. Pepper products on our fountain


Opened in London, UK

Potbelly Heritage Logos

World's Largest Collector of Antique Stoves?

Our Potbelly Stoves

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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. Potbelly stoves were used extensively in stores and other public places during the late 1800s and early 1900s. They were gathering places in homes and communities, warm little outposts where local people could share a meal and some conversation.

While the stoves might be a thing of the past, you can still find the same warmth and good vibes at a Potbelly Sandwich Shop in your neighborhood. 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.

Please check out our "Potbelly Stove 101" diagram or click on the stove to see some of our favorite stoves inside our shops.

Montage of images representing Potbelly's workshop Montage of images representing Potbelly's workshop

Where do we find all the unique items
that are in our shops?

Potbelly Workshop

We go to great lengths to make our shops special by procuring and creating little touches, quirks and local artifacts that reflect the neighborhood of each shop. The talented artists and craftspeople at our Potbelly Workshop dedicate themselves to making people smile with their off-the-wall ideas. Next time you're in one of our shops, look around and see what they've created.

Give your computer the same nostalgic feel with these quirky wallpapers.

Potbelly Music

All year long (save for the usual holidays) a musician performs live at a Potbelly store somewhere in America. Over the course of a year, over 653 different musicians perform at our stores. Music has been a part of Potbelly Sandwich Shop since we first opened in 1977. We wouldn't have it any other way. Today, we like to think that we are probably the world's largest purveyor of live music (at least when it comes to the number of music venues).

If you think you've got what it takes to perform at one of our stores, you can visit our musicians wanted section to see if we are looking for performers in your area.

Fundraising & Donations

Charitable Donation Process

Thank you for considering a Potbelly donation/fundraiser. We have a handy electronic submission for all donation requests. Please keep in mind that all requests for charitable donations or sponsorships must be submitted at least 45 days prior to the event. Click here to submit your donation or sponsorship request or visit this address:

Looking for more than just a donation request? Potbelly offers additional opportunities for your organization to team up with us.

Fundraiser Process

25% Fundraiser*
Host a fundraiser at your neighborhood Potbelly. This type of event is for bigger do-good organizations with 200+ people. By hosting an event at our sandwich shop, 25% of the sales gathered from the event are donated to your cause.

Shake Fundraiser*
Have your neighborhood shop create a shake just you and your organization. This is perfect for sports teams, schools, and small organization with 200 people or less. For a Shake Fundraiser, we’ll create a special hand-dipped milkshake using one or a combination of our delicious ingredients. You will then name your shake and tell all your friends to come in and order it. Potbelly will donate $0.50 from every customized shake sold to your organization at the end of a given time frame.

Still not finding what you are looking for?
We recommend you still complete the donation/fundraiser request and mention your partnership idea.

*Very, Very Important
Hey everybody, our lawyer friends wanted us to let you know that your organization must be 501(c)3 tax exempt. We must have your 501(c)3 tax exempt form before we agree to partner with you. Not every organization is right for Potbelly. After a careful evaluation of your cause, we’ll decide if it’s in both our best interests to do a fundraiser together. Cool?!

The Potbelly Experience...
For Employees!

What sets Potbelly apart?

At Potbelly Sandwich Shop we take pride in our awesome products, people and place. We serve only the highest quality products from the freshest ingredients, and our warm, homey environment is adorned with eclectic antiques and hand-painted signs. Our live music adds a fun feeling and neighborhood vibe to all of our stores – each is a unique place our customers love to visit.

We also attract smart, talented and kind people who share in and demonstrate our Potbelly values. Values such as trust, respect and integrity are important to us, and make Potbelly a place our employees love to work. We empower our employees to do what is right, encourage them to perform at their personal best, and help them to work together as a team to make sure we deliver a positive experience to everyone who works here. In the end, we are a fun, friendly, and hardworking group of people who take care of our customers, while at the same time, take care of each other.

And let's talk about opportunities. Over the past 5 years, we have grown to over 240 shops in 15 states. This kind of growth creates amazing opportunities for our employees. To help our people take advantage of these opportunities, we are committed to training and leadership development. This includes training, mentorship, and performance support to help employees succeed today, while developing the skills, management capabilities and leadership characteristics they will need to advance in the future. Our Management Training Program provides new managers with six weeks of training to prepare them for success, and is followed by on-going in-store coaching with their General Manager. In short, we grow when our employees grow – which means a world of opportunity.

To find your opportunity with Potbelly, please click here.

Potbelly Careers

What's a day in the life at Potbelly?

Good question! We have created a video to give you a taste of what working at Potbelly is like.

Check it out! Check it out!

Text-only version

We Reward Our World-Class Employees with
World-Class Benefits!

Potbelly offers a comprehensive and competitive benefit plan..for our eligible employees including our hourly & salaried.

All eligible employees are offered the following benefits:

  • Medical Insurance: Three PPO Plans available through Blue Cross Blue Shield with very generous cost sharing
  • Dental: A PPO Plan and an HMO Plan offered through CIGNA
  • Vision: A comprehensive plan available through EyeMed
  • Short Term and Long Term Disability: Financial protection if you become disabled
  • Basic Life Insurance and Accidental Death & Dismemberment: 100% company paid
  • Voluntary Life Insurance and Dependent Life Insurance: Additional life insurance for yourself and for your family
  • 401(k): Potbelly matches $.50 to the dollar up to 6% of total compensation, up to $3,000. Yes, this is free money!
  • Time Off: We have varying levels of personal time off programs depending on your position and tenure with the company.
  • Transportation Program: Employees can save up to 40% on commuting expenses to and from work
  • Employee Assistance Program: 100% confidential counseling and referral services
  • Domestic Partner Benefits: Domestic Partners are eligible for Medical, Dental, Vision and Dependent Life Insurance Plans
  • Flexible Spending Accounts: Employees can save up to 30% on eligible out-of-pocket health and dependent care expenses

Our employees can also take advantage of these Potbelly perks:

  • Discount Programs: Potbelly offers discounts on cellular plans (T-Mobile) and pet insurance...yes, pet insurance!
  • Employee Referral Bonus: Refer someone you know and make some dough!
  • And our favorite...Potbelly Meal Discounts!
  • And, of course, all of our benefits and perks come with competitive compensation packages!