Many in Grove City have long been looking forward to the opening of Primanti Brothers since its announcement last year that they’d be opening at Grove City Premium Outlets.
Friday was opening day for the ninth suburban location of the famous sandwich shop--the first Primanti opened outside the Pittsburgh and surrounding suburb area.
“Inside Pittsburgh it’s just taken over. The concept has taken off, even more than it has in the past, and there’s just been a demand for it all throughout the region,” Brent Trumpower, general manager, said.
Trumpower has been with Primanti family since he was 17 years old, when he began there in high school. Then, the suburban locations were still a new concept to the company.
He has cooked, served, and most recently acted as manager. Trumpower spent some time with the Bank of New York Melon and found that the cubicle wasn’t his style. “I’m one of those people who can say, ‘I truly love coming to work,’” Trumpower said.
The Primanti Brothers Corporation has had calls from Cleveland, Erie and State College requesting that a Primanti’s be opened in their area.
To date, the Grove City location is the farthest from the city of Pittsburgh, aside from the three Florida locations.
However, franchising is not an option for the company, which gets inquiries daily for it at corporate. “You can’t go to a Primanti Brothers just anywhere. If you want to get a true Primanti Brothers sandwich, you have to come to Primanti Brothers,” Trumpower said.
A number of imitations have cropped up, but it’s not the same--and people realize that, he pointed out. That is why Primanti Brothers has gained such momentum.
“Saturday was really busy; it was insane. There was a line at the door the entire night. Some people were really excited and others didn’t even know we had just opened. They thought we were here the entire time,” Michelle Martin said. Martin is a first-time server for Primanti.
The favorite menu item is “definitely the Pittsburger--that’s what almost everyone ordered. It’s the famous sandwich,” Martin said.
Since opening, the shop has had a wait list all day. By noon on Saturday, patrons were on a wait list all the way through the Penguins game.
Michelle Rodgers and her daughter Brooklyn attended opening weekend with Rodgers’ fiance, Justin Cook, all of Grove City.
“It was busy, but we only waited for 15 minutes. We both ordered sandwiches--I had the corned beef and he had the steak sandwich. Brooklyn had pizza, which she loved. The food was good; very similar to Primanti’s in Cranberry Township. We love the atmosphere. It’s great to have a sports bar in the area,” Rodgers said.
The menu in Grove City is the same as at the rest of their suburban locations. The inner city locations stay true to the “Almost Famous” original sandwich menu.
The Grove City location does have a newer menu promoting the “double meat” option. It also includes the suburban locations’ menu items such as pizza, appetizers, bar food and burgers. However, the sandwich is still the most popular choice of food fanatics.
Between 80 and 85 employees staff the restaurant. They received training at various locations; some were sent to the Cranberry location to train, while others have transferred from other restaurants, such as Slippery Rock University students who previously worked in Pittsburgh. Most employees did complete training on-site.
The restaurant capacity is approximately 200. Patios in front and behind the building will be open in spring, and will increase capacity by approximately 40 to 50 seats.
Primanti’s expects significant patronage from the nearby outlets. Trumpower believes Grove City is a good location to start in terms of expanding outside the city and measuring how well the business will do.
“We’re so excited to be coming to the Grove City area. We look forward to working with the community and a lot of success,” added Amy Smith with Partners Inc. Sales and Marketing, who handles Primanti Brothers’ marketing.
Primanti Brothers is known nationwide. It was recently recognized as having the No. 1 best sandwich by the Travel Channel, and has been featured on the television program Man vs. Food.
Primanti’s is known for being sports bar, so the Grove City location will have customer favorites like beer specials and happy hour, as well as specials during Steelers and Penguins games. It will have a seasonal menu featuring Pittsburgh favorites like kielbasa and pierogies.
Monthly promotions will encompass giveaway prizes sponsored by beverage distributors, and will include Penguins tickets and Steelers jerseys.
The decor is rich with Pittsburgh sports history, as well as photographs from the original Strip District Primanti location. It also includes some sports artifacts from local colleges Slippery Rock University and Westminster College.
The owner, Jim Patrinos, has a passion for the business and strives to make sure things are done the right way.
In the 1930’s, Joe Primanti opened a cart in the Strip District selling sandwiches to truckers. He then decided that he should expand to a small restaurant on 18th Street, now the Strip District. The hours were 3 a.m. to 3 p.m. His brothers, Dick and Stanley, joined the effort along with nephew John DePriter, who was the cook.
The strip district location was shut down for a year, with the passing of Stanley in the early 1970s, followed by John in 1974. The remaining brother, Dick, decided to sell the business. Jim Patrinos bought the business in 1974 and reopened in 1975 after minor modifications to the existing property.
When the restaurant hours expanded to 24 hours, Patrinos decided to open more locations. The second Primanti Brothers location was in Oakland near the University of Pittsburgh.
In 1998, Primanti’s started growing into the suburbs of Pittsburgh while expanding the menu. Pizza, wings, salads and more were added to the “Almost Famous” Sandwich menu.
Primanti’s has also set up shop in Pittsburgh sports venues, including Heinz Field, PNC Park, and Consol Energy Center.
Patrinos is an owner who is not afraid to get his hands dirty. Over the weekend he was seen greeting and seating folks, back in the kitchen cutting bread, as well as cleaning glasses at the bar.
Not only does it provide great cuisine, but Primanti Brothers strives to be involved in the local community.
“We’re always looking to get our name out there and to help the community. Our employees, mostly college students, always have suggestions of things we can get into,” Trumpower said. Already, the Grove City location has helped the Slippery Rock sports management team in a charity golf outing.
They look forward to serving the Grove City community and outlet shoppers for many years to come.
Primanti Brothers, Leesburg-Grove City Road, Springfield Township, is open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday. Phone: 724-748-9955.