A Chicago-based sandwich shop franchise will open its first location in the Greater Lehigh Valley in early October.
New Yorkers Ethan Pinney and Kim Fitzgerald co-own Potbelly Sandwich Shop which will be at 3217 Schoenersville Road in Bethlehem.
Potbelly has more than 300 locations across the nation, including Philadelphia, but none in the Lehigh Valley and Berks County or in Upper Bucks and Upper Montgomery counties.
Pinney said that when he and Fitzgerald get the business up and running, he would like to open more locations.
“I would like to be the primary franchisee throughout the Lehigh Valley and open more throughout the Lehigh Valley,” Pinney said. “We are both from New York, and when we were looking around we stumbled on the Lehigh Valley and we fell in love with it. It seemed like a natural fit for us to end up on Schoenersville Road near the corporate park.”
The location is in a strip center with a Starbucks near several park-like corporate office settings.
Pinney, who lives in New York, will move to the Valley when the business opens. He will be in the shop daily and serve as the managing partner, he said. Fitzgerald will be the chief financial officer, remaining in New York, he said.
The main reason they chose to open a Potbelly location in the Valley is because they both ate at other Potbelly locations in New York on an almost daily basis and fell in love with the food.
“One of the main differentiators is that all of our ingredients are fresh, prepared daily,” Pinney said.
Sandwiches are designed to be toasted; all food is made to order. Cookies are baked each morning, and the shop also features a variety of homemade soups and fresh salads. The average price for a sandwich is about $5 to $6, he said.
Customers can get through lines in an average of eight minutes, Pinney said. The shop is designed to be a place for people to get a quick order or to stay and take their time. He said the shop has the capacity to seat 60 and will offer live music from local musicians during lunch. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day. While Potbelly will be open for dinner, it will mainly cater to the lunch crowd.
He will start with about 15 employees, both full- and part-time.
It will be Pinney’s first venture in the food business, having previously served as district manager for T-Mobile in Queens, N.Y.
The Potbelly name derives from the Potbelly stove, and the image is included on the company’s branding to highlight the concept of the hot, freshly prepared sandwich.