MIDTOWN — The hugely popular Potbelly Sandwich Shop made its debut at 30 Rock Wednesday, attracting a line of Midtown lunch-goers that snaked out the door.
“My coworkers and I have been counting down the days,” said Julia Ludwig, 26, who works nearby, as she eagerly waited to place an order at the counter, where more than a dozen energetic staffers were on hand to whip up the chain’s signature toasted sandwiches and randomly cheer.
The Midwestern brand’s latest outpost is its third in Manhattan and part of a larger effort to expand city-wide.
Just as at its previous openings, a line of hungry customers had amassed by noon, eager to dig into signature sandwiches, like the “A Wreck,” with salami, roast beef, turkey, ham and Swiss cheese on white or multigrain wheat for $5.80.
Like others, Ludwig said she'd discovered Potbelly when she lived in Washington, D.C. and has been a fan ever since.
“It’s well-priced, it’s fresh, the hot peppers are awesome and it’s fast,” she said.
For others, the sandwiches were a taste of home.
Megan Fitzpatrick, 23, who works nearby, said she first encountered Potbelly at college in Chicago, and was happy to be so close again.
“I just feel like they’re better. It’s fresher-tasting,” said Fitzpatrick, who ordered the classic turkey and cheese to go.
Fellow customer John Riordan, 26, who was born in Columbus, Ohio, said that while not particularly unique, the chain offers fair prices, above all.
“It’s good value compared to what you have around here,” he said.
Unlike Potbelly’s other city locations, the Rockefeller Center space offers no music and no seating, though customers can chow down at food court-style tables nearby.
Peter Halprin, 27, who lives in the East Village, was among the minority who’d never eaten at a Potbelly before. He said he’d read about the opening online and was eager to give the food a try.
“It’s a little crazy, all the balloons and what not,” Halprin said of the opening experience, but said he was pleased to walk away with a sandwich, bag of chips and drink for under $10 — “pretty good around here.”
Chris Flett, a market manager for the chain, said the owners of Potbelly are thrilled to be at 30 Rockefeller Center, once of the best known buildings in the city.
“It’s just a great opportunity for us to go out and make a name for ourselves,” he said.
In addition to its first location Downtown and one that opened in July on East 44th Street between Lexington and Third avenues, the chain expects to open two new locations this fall: at 17th Street and Broadway next to Union Square and West 37th Street and Seventh Avenue.
It hopes to have five New York City hubs up and running by the end of 2011, with an additional eight to 10 locations during 2012.
Potbelly at 30 Rockefeller Center is open Monday through Friday 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.