CLOSE
Original image
Getty

11 Toasted Facts about Potbelly

Original image
Getty

Fresh, fast, friendly. That’s the promise Potbelly Sandwich Shop has been sticking to for the past three-and-a-half decades. But there’s more to the popular lunch spot than toasted fare and its eponymous stove.

1. BEFORE THEY SOLD SANDWICHES, THEY SOLD ANTIQUES.

The first Potbelly opened in Chicago in 1977—as an antiques store. But the young owners soon, er, craved a new challenge and began cooking sandwiches in their shop’s potbelly stove. Soon locals were lining up for the tasty toasted lunches and the store’s heirlooms became unique decor.

2. THE FOUNDING CHAIRMAN HAS SOME BUSINESS SAVVY.

In 1996, Chicago entrepreneur Bryant Keil discovered and purchased the quirky shop. Within a year, he’d created another. By 2003 he had been named Illinois Restaurateur of the Year. “My dad thought I was crazy,” he’s said of the venture, “but I knew there was a model for success there.”

3. ALL OF THE SHOPS HAVE A TOASTY ATMOSPHERE. 

Keeping true to its name, each of the 280-plus shops (across the U.S. and in the U.K., United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain) has its own potbelly stove.

4. THEY HOST LOCAL MUSICIANS ALL THE TIME.

The company’s dedication to local talent means that on any given day a musician is performing live at a Potbelly somewhere in the United States. The chain has also had franchises host fundraisers for high school bands and open-mic nights, in case you wanted to bring your guitar along for dinner.

5. NO TWO SHOPS LOOK EXACTLY ALIKE.

There’s a team of artists and craftspeople at the Potbelly workshop whose job it is to decorate each store. They scour neighborhoods for artifacts and artwork that reflect the area.

6. FRESH INGREDIENTS ARE A MUST... 

According to the company website, most of their meats and cheeses are hand-sliced in shop. Their much-raved about chicken salad is also made in-store using the founder’s original five-ingredient recipe.

7. ... AS IS FAST SERVICE. 

Potbelly’s vow: they’ll move you through any line in eight minutes—max. You yell out your shake or smoothie order first so they'll have it ready when you get to the registers, and then you get to watch for your base sandwich—the bread, meat, and cheese—go through the conveyor toaster before you claim it and have condiments added. And if you want chips, you have time to browse the rack while your sammie gets toasted.

8. THEIR SIGNATURE SANDWICH IS A WRECK.

Literally, that’s what it’s called. A meat-lover’s dream, it’s a mix of roast beef, salami, turkey breast, ham and Swiss cheese. And you might as well add all the toppings, and then snap a pic for #wreckwednesday (which is almost entirely populated by sandwiches, bull-riding and motor-racing events). 

9. POTBELLY HAS MORE THAN JUST SANDWICHES.

They do have regular dessert items like fresh-baked cookies, dream bars and classic shakes, but they maintain a series of seasonal shakes and smoothies as well, like the summertime pineapple coconut smoothie or a wintertime peppermint twist shake. And, each dessert beverage is topped off with a cute mini cookie on its straw, for those who need a crunch at the end of their meal.

10. THERE'S A STARBUCKS CONNECTION.

The coffee behemoth’s founder invested in Potbelly early on through his venture-capital firm, and in 2007, Potbelly began selling Starbucks coffee at a handful of stores.

11. THEIR SOCIAL MEDIA HAS PERSONALITY.

Along with drool-worthy pictures and celebrity quotes, their Twitter account boasts corny riddles. Why did the cookie go to the doctor? Because it was feeling “crumby”, of course! They're like the Laffy Taffy of the toasted sandwich world!

Original image
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
arrow
Pop Culture
How Jimmy Buffett Turned 'Margaritaville' Into a Way of Life
Original image
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Few songs have proven as lucrative as “Margaritaville,” a modest 1977 hit by singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett that became an anthem for an entire life philosophy. The track was the springboard for Buffett’s business empire—restaurants, apparel, kitchen appliances, and more—marketing the taking-it-easy message of its tropical print lyrics.

After just a few years of expanding that notion into other ventures, the “Parrot Heads” of Buffett’s fandom began to account for $40 million in annual revenue—and that was before the vacation resorts began popping up.

Jimmy Buffett performs for a crowd
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

“Margaritaville,” which turned 40 this year, was never intended to inspire this kind of devotion. It was written after Buffett, as an aspiring musician toiling in Nashville, found himself in Key West, Florida, following a cancelled booking in Miami and marveling at the sea of tourists clogging the beaches.

Like the other songs on his album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, it didn’t receive a lot of radio play. Instead, Buffett began to develop his following by opening up for The Eagles. Even at 30, Buffett was something less than hip—a flip-flopped performer with a genial stage presence that seemed to invite an easygoing vibe among crowds. “Margaritaville,” an anthem to that kind of breezy attitude, peaked at number eight on the Billboard charts in 1977. While that’s impressive for any single, its legacy would quickly evolve beyond the music industry's method for gauging success.

What Buffett realized as he continued to perform and tour throughout the early 1980s is that “Margaritaville” had the ability to sedate audiences. Like a hypnotist, the singer could immediately conjure a specific time and place that listeners wanted to revisit. The lyrics painted a scene of serenity that became a kind of existential vacation for Buffett's fans:

Nibblin' on sponge cake,
Watchin' the sun bake;
All of those tourists covered with oil.
Strummin' my six string on my front porch swing.
Smell those shrimp —
They're beginnin' to boil.

By 1985, Buffett was ready to capitalize on that goodwill. In Key West, he opened a Margaritaville store, which sold hats, shirts, and other ephemera to residents and tourists looking to broadcast their allegiance to his sand-in-toes fantasy. (A portion of the proceeds went to Save the Manatees, a nonprofit organization devoted to animal conservation.) The store also sold the Coconut Telegraph, a kind of propaganda newsletter about all things Buffett and his chill perspective.

When Buffett realized patrons were coming in expecting a bar or food—the song was named after a mixed drink, after all—he opened a cafe adjacent to the store in late 1987. The configuration was ideal, and through the 1990s, Buffett and business partner John Cohlan began erecting Margaritaville locations in Florida, New Orleans, and eventually Las Vegas and New York. All told, more than 21 million people visit a Buffett-inspired hospitality destination every year.

A parrot at Margaritaville welcomes guests
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Margaritaville-branded tequila followed. So, too, did a line of retail foods like hummus, a book of short stories, massive resorts, a Sirius radio channel, and drink blenders. Buffett even wrote a 242-page script for a Margaritaville movie that he had hoped to film in the 1980s. It’s one of the very few Margaritaville projects that has yet to have come to fruition, but it might be hard for Buffett to complain much. In 2015, his entire empire took in $1.5 billion in sales.

As of late, Buffett has signed off on an Orlando resort due to open in 2018, offering “casual luxury” near the boundaries of Walt Disney World. (One in Hollywood, Florida, is already a hit, boasting a 93 percent occupancy rate.) Even for guests that aren’t particularly familiar with his music, “Jimmy Buffett” has become synonymous with comfort and relaxation just as surely as Walt Disney has with family entertainment. The association bodes well for a business that will eventually have to move beyond Buffett’s concert-going loyalists.

Not that he's looking to leave them behind. The 70-year-old Buffett is planning on a series of Margaritaville-themed retirement communities, with the first due to open in Daytona Beach in 2018. More than 10,000 Parrot Heads have already registered, eager to watch the sun set while idling in a frame of mind that Buffett has slowly but surely turned into a reality.

Original image
Tengi
arrow
Design
The Secret to the World's Most Comfortable Bed Might Be Yak Hair
Original image
Tengi

Savoir Beds laughs at your unspooling mail-order mattresses and their promises of ultimate comfort. The UK-based company has teamed with London's Savoy Hotel to offer what they’ve declared is one of the most luxurious nights of sleep you’ll ever experience. 

What do they have that everyone else lacks? About eight pounds of Mongolian yak hair.

The elegantly-named Savoir No. 1 Khangai Limited Edition is part of the hotel’s elite Royal Suite accommodations. For $1845 a night, guests can sink into the mattress with a topper stuffed full of yak hair from Khangai, Mongolia. Hand-combed and with heat-dispensing properties, it takes 40 yaks to make one topper. In a press release, collaborator and yarn specialist Tengri claims it “transcends all levels of comfort currently available.”

Visitors opting for such deluxe amenities also have access to a hair stylist, butler, chef, and a Rolls-Royce with a driver.

Savoir Beds has entered into a fair-share partnership with the farmers, who receive an equitable wage in exchange for the fibers, which are said to be softer than cashmere. If you’d prefer to luxuriate like that every night, the purchase price for the bed is $93,000. Purchased separately, the topper is $17,400. Act soon, as only 50 of the beds will be made available each year. 

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios