Potbelly's soft opening benefits H-F High School

John Millen of Homewood was the first customer in the door Monday as Potbelly Sandwich Shop's Oven Warming Party got under way at 11 a.m.

John Millen of Homewood, 
right, orders the first 
sandwich at Homewood's 
Potbelly Sandwich Shop
Monday, March 16.
(Photo by
Eric Crump/The Chronicle)

Millen said there are several Potbelly restaurants in the territory he covers on his job, and he frequents them regularly, so he was glad to see one open at home.

"I love Potbelly's," he said. "I go to them all the time."

He said the special opening offer — $5 cash donation for a sandwich, chips and drink — was a pretty good deal.

"This would normally cost $9," he said. "And it benefits H-F, so it's awesome."

Unlike normal community fundraisers, the party Monday was a "no profit" event for the restaurant. All proceeds will be donated to Homewood-Flossmoor High School.

The soft opening served several purposes, according to General Manager Amanda Gonzalez. It's an opportunity to give back to the community right from the start, a chance to introduce the community to the shop and it's a way to give a new staff some good experience before opening day Tuesday.

The staff at Potbelly's seemed
happy to be getting the new
shop up and running.
by Eric Crump/The Chronicle)

The staff has about 30 members, including some transfers from other Potbelly shops and some new hires, Gonzalez said. And the crew was showing the kind of enthusiasm the company encourages.

"We're fun," she said. "We want it to feel like home."

In addition to a friendly, outgoing staff, that homey atmosphere will be created by having regular live music performed by area musicians.

Gonzalez said there will be music during the evening portion of the Oven Warming Party Monday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and each evening the rest of the week. 

Jim Dague, of Homewood, will be featured most nights of the first week. Dague, creator of ScribbleMonster, a music presentation for children, is a regular performer at Homewood's community events.

Another feature of the shop that might make H-F residents feel at home: It has an unofficial little free library. Next to the signature potbelly stove just inside the door there is a book shelf.

Gonzalez said the books are there for patrons to read while they eat, and everyone is invited to donate books and take books from the collection. 

"I love to read," Gonzalez said. "When I take my break, I grab a book."

Homewood and Flossmoor are home to at least eight Little Free Libraries, with more being planned.

Potbelly's will open with regular hours Tuesday, and there is a ribbon-cutting ceremony planned for 11 a.m. Thursday. Regular hours are Sundays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Related story:
Potbelly's to open Homewood restaurant this week

Contact Eric Crump at [email protected]


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A great community deserves a great newspaper. The HF Chronicle was created in June 2014 as an online publication. In December 2015 we began monthly print publication, too. Our mission is to chronicle the life of our community — news by, for, and about the people of Homewood and Flossmoor, Illinois.


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