The grand opening of Potbelly Sandwich Works was yet another example of the influx of national chains to this campus’ main streets. State Street has had rapid turnover the past few years, replacing old businesses with new ones, but the newest installation is set to stay.
Potbelly comes equipped with a cutesy story to bring about a mom-and-pop type atmosphere. The story goes that in order to lure customers into their antique store the owners decided to sell sandwiches and fresh desserts. Ironically, the sandwiches were a bigger hit than the antiques, launching the chain. The restaurant chain has spread to 26 locations, primarily in the Washington D.C. and Chicago areas. Ann Arbor would commemorate the 26th year of the chain with the opening of the restaurant located on the corner on Liberty and State Streets.
The novel sandwich shop is teeming with friendly and energetic staff eager to satisfy the customers’ needs. The service is by far the most notable of the restaurant’s qualities, as all other aspects lag in comparison to similar restaurant joints.
Seating in the restaurant is limited as the constructors had to build around the ATM on Liberty Street. Luckily, management utilizes the sidewalk, placing multiple tables and umbrellas outside the establishment in order to create more seating options. The decoration for the restaurant, such as vintage signs and old-fashioned hardwood floors, replicates that of the original antique store.
A great draw for college students is the live music often playing at this eatery. This greatly improves the experience as customers are treated to one of the few locations in town where live music is still appreciated.
While the atmosphere of the restaurant is integral in enhancing the experience, the quality of the food should really set it apart. In terms of Potbelly though, the food does not stand out from the numerous other venues on campus. Primarily, students will be surprised by the relatively small size of the sandwiches. For those accustomed to Subway, Jimmy John’s or Quizno’s foot-long subs, Potbelly’s sandwiches would seem very inadequate.
Since the weather refuses to warm up, Ann Arbor residents might want a hearty soup to get away from the cold. They would get neither a hot nor a filling soup at Potbelly. The title “chicken noodle soup” is very misleading since no chicken can be found in the soggy noodles-and-broth combination.
Continuing with the theme of minuscule size, the much-acclaimed milkshakes and malts add to the bill with very small portions. The cookie on the straw is the saving grace for the weak and runny shakes.
While the atmosphere scores an undeniable A+, Potbelly does not pass if the criterion is to satisfy customers who are hungry, have limited funds and need a quick place to sit and eat – the food is meager and overpriced, and seating is limited.