New sandwich chain to fire up in Rochester
After years of trying to fire up a Med City location, plans for a new Potbelly Sandwich Shop are heating up in downtown Rochester.
A group of local owners have signed a deal to open a Potbelly franchise — the first in southeastern Minnesota — in the 318 Commons building on First Avenue Southwest.
That'll put it in the same complex with hundreds of University of Minnesota Rochester students, The Loop bar and grill and the latest Eastwood Bank branch.
Potbelly, known for its toasted sandwiches and cast-iron potbelly stoves, has been looking to spark a franchise here since at least 2010. Fans have been vocal in their appeals for a local Potbelly.
In addition to warm sandwiches, Potbelly serves up salads, soups and hand-dipped milkshakes.
Owners Kirk and Kim Gordon are spearheading the project, along with partners John and Sandy Rogness and Bill and Erin Nystrom.
The decision to sign on for a Potbelly franchise was an easy one for the Gordons.
“We loved Potbelly when we lived in Chicago, and we’ve been hoping ever since that Rochester would be added to the Potbelly family," Kim Gordon said. "We got tired of waiting and decided, ‘Let’s bring it here ourselves.’”
There's no target opening date yet, but look for construction of the new sidewalk level eatery to kickoff very soon. The chain's namesake stove commemorates how the first shop started as an antique store then evolved into an eatery. Expect customized woodwork within.
Potbelly typically hires about 20 to 30 people to staff a shop.
It'll be interesting to see how this new player in Rochester's already meaty sandwich market carves out its own niche. The Med City already sports Jimmy John's, Subway, Quizno's, Cousin's and local deli-style places like Salad Brothers, City Market, Nelson Cheese and others
In 2010, Potbelly's franchise manager was confident that a shop was destined for Rochester.
"These are definitely not cookie cutter shops. We want to be part of a community," Mike Walters said back then. "We want to be a neighborhood sandwich shop."