My Dealings with the Sandwich Overlords

Lunch at the local Potbelly Sandwich Works franchise this week prompted the following exchange with the franchise through their website’s feedback form.

Hi folks,

I and others from my office have been visiting Potbelly for lunch about once a week since you opened stores in Dallas. When I went there today for lunch, an unpleasant surprise awaited me.

I orderd the same thing I always do. An italian on regular bread with mustard, no pickles, no peppers. I was told I was no longer allowed to have mustard on my sandwich. I said, of course, that without mustard, it was hardly a real sandwich and I didn’t want it.

They finally offered me some of those little plastic packets of mustard but said I’d have to put it on the sandwich myself.

They apologized and said they’d like to continue offering mustard but that some sort of official decision from on high now forces them to withhold mustard from customers who want it.

Perhaps I should point out here that I’m talking about real mustard. Yellow mustard. Regular mustard. Normal mustard. Mustard as God intended it. Not that discolored brown mustard. Not “spicy” mustard. Not so-called “gourmet” mustard. Actual, real, American mustard.

The other thing I should probably point out is that I wasn’t the only person around complaining about the mustard embargo. Hopefully I’m not the only one who visited the website, found the comment form and commented on it.

I find it bizarre that a restaurant that claims to offer sandwiches for lunch can’t put mustard on said sandwiches. Maybe this is how they do things in Illinois but here in Texas a sandwich has mustard on it. Maybe even extra mustard.

As long as our local Potbelly continues to at least offer do-it-yourself mustard, I’ll probably continue to visit occasionally but it would be nice if the corporate sandwich overlords would deem to allow us Texans to eat our sandwiches the way we want.


The very next morning I received this personal email not from the corporate office but the manager of the local franchise (cc’d to the corporate office):

From: Pam …
To: Steve …
Cc: Mike …
Subj: Re: Yellow mustard

I want to apologize for the inconvience you experienced im my restaurant, I assure you we would be more than glad to put yellow mustard on your sandwich at anytime. I have talked to all my staff about your concern and it is now understood that we will always take care of your requests. We appreciate your business and look forward to seeing you again soon. Please ask for me the next time your in so I can take care of your lunch and ensure that it is to your liking.

Thank you for taking time to let us know.

Pamela …
General Manager

To which I replied:

From: Steve …
To: Pam …

Cc: Mike …
Subj: Re: Yellow mustard

Hi Pam,

Thanks for the quick reply. I wasn’t actually expecting to get a reply from a real, live human. I thought my comment would generate an automated response at best. I’m impressed! And thanks also for bringing back mustard. I’ll be stopping by in the next few days to enjoy an italian (with mustard).