Where to find the best oven grinders in Chicago and arguably anywhere. The original Potbelly has existed on Lincoln and Belden for 30 years and still has a line of truly addicted loyals out the door for 5 hours straight every weekend. Three years ago it was purchased by an arrogant entrepreneur and has since become a chain, branching out to a handful of other locales throughout the loop and northside. Plans for Potbellys in Wisconsin and Michigan are also in the making.
I worked at the original Potbelly for two years and was one of the fastest sub dressers of my time. I would be covered in grease at the front lines, wielding my knife at the speed of light as the onslaught of never-ending hot subs poured out of the conveyor oven towards me. I'd deftly slather sub after sub with condiments made to order, two and three at a time, to the amazement of my onlookers; my dreadlocks sticking out the back of my cut-up baseball cap, reveling in my abilities and knowing without looking that my captive audience of customers in line were completely enthralled.
The place was always in utter chaos and seemingly unorganized but the antics of our disheveled collective team of random artists and actors, gang bangers, high schoolers and illegal aliens was part of the charm. It used to be like that at the original Potbelly. Now that it has been bought and corporatized, the staff is much more 'standardized' and tame. However, the food is still top notch and its a Chicago classic I'd recommend that everyone try.