By Jeff Sherman Staff Writer Published Jul 30, 2003 at 5:35 AM

With a tagline like "Peace, love and Potbelly sandwiches," how can you not cheer the news that Potbelly Sandwich Works is coming to Milwaukee? They will open at 275 W. Wisconsin Ave. (the site of the old Hooters), along side The Shops of Grand Avenue on or close to September 12.

According to Potbelly Director of Marketing, Peter Nolan, the sandwich maker whose stores first opened as antique stores until the owners began selling sandwiches as a lark, Potbelly has leased the 1,500-sq. ft. location. Nolan says he is "looking forward to serving great sandwiches in a cool atmosphere."

For more than 25 years, the company has been a staple in Chicagoland where its funky stores, potbelly stoves and toasted sandwiches are huge hits. They just opened in Madison on State Street on July 17 and have 30 locations in five states and Washington D.C., with 20 in Chicagoland. Nolan said they want to have 50 locations nationwide by end of year.

Modern charms accompany the restaurants along with old-school ovens, coolers, hand-dipped ice cream and live music. Think of a Potbelly as a full-fledged, neighborhood joint with amazing sandwiches (take this from an author who drives to Chicago for them), hand-dipped milkshakes, desserts and overall comfy confines.

"Milwaukee has great people who are down-to-earth and love good value," says Nolan adding that all 11 sandwiches will be priced at $3.79, plus tax.

With the increasing demand for downtown sandwich eateries, Potbelly joins the likes of Erbert and Gerbert's, Cousin's, Subway, Quizno's, Jimmy John's and others.

Potbelly also stands to be a frozen treat destination due to downtown's lack of a Kopp's or other ice cream/custard outlet. Potbelly desserts are all made from scratch, and include the famous Sheila's Dream Bar.

"There's nothing but up-side in Milwaukee and at this location. We welcome more restaurants to downtown to make this a destination strip," says Nolan.

The new location will open just before the new Linens 'N Things and TJ Maxx stores move into the mall. The restaurant will feature all natural wood, no plastic. "With the historic significance of the building, it will fit our history and the cool, funky stuff that make up Potbelly," adds Nolan.

Potbelly also will fit well with the renovations along Wisconsin Avenue and inside and around the Shops of Grand Avenue. "We are thrilled to have the distinction of opening the first Potbelly's in Milwaukee at our renovated Shops of Grand Avenue. With Potbelly's unique dining experience and homemade deserts we are able to offer the shoppers, event goers and our downtown business professionals a new and delicious choice in dining," said Nan Schwartz, general manager of the Shops of Grand Avenue.

Live music will also be a part of the mix, and store managers will soon begin hearing auditions for day-time gigs at the restaurant.

Call (414) 226-0014.

Jeff Sherman Staff Writer

A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.

He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.

Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.  He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.  

He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.

He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.