Between The Bun: Everything You Should Know About Capriotti's Sandwich Shop

If you're unfamiliar with Capriotti's Sandwich Shop, that will likely change in the near future. The chain, which was founded in Delaware nearly five decades ago, has since spread across the country. It now boasts locations in 27 states and could be expanding to a city near you soon, as the chain is growing at one of the highest rates of any company in the United States (via Inc.). This is great news for hungry diners—the brand is known for making some of the best sandwiches around. You'll find its creations included on many a "Top Sandwiches" list, including Mashed's!

So, how exactly did this chain go from a single store in Delaware to one of the most talked-about companies in the food industry? From the origin of the restaurant's name and the chain's most famous fan, to how it prepares its savory meats and its appearances on Food Network, here's everything you should know about Capriotti's Sandwich Shop.

The chain's name pays homage to a family member

The history of Capriotti's Sandwich Shop can be traced back nearly 50 years to the tiny East Coast city of Wilmington, Delaware. It was here that the brother-sister team of Alan and Lois Margolet opened the first Capriotti's in 1976. The name was chosen to honor their grandfather, Philip Capriotti, who always loved cooking Italian meals.

Most great success stories start with humble beginnings, and that was certainly the case for Capriotti's. The siblings operated their shop beholden to a decidedly simple business strategy: to make great sandwiches that "real turkey lovers" would, well, love. As such, the turkeys were whole-roasted and all ingredients were handmade.

Soon, Alan's and Lois' small operation wasn't so small. Long lines of customers would wind around the block. The store's popularity led Capriotti's to open other locations around Delaware. Lois eventually retired to Las Vegas, but soon after, she wanted back in the game. She opened a Capriotti's not far from the Vegas strip. She found that people on the other side of the country loved these sandwiches just as much. Just like that, Capriotti's was on its way to becoming a national brand.

The company was purchased by a superfan

In the late 1990s, Ashley Morris was a typical college student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. One day, his roommate took him to a new sandwich shop. Morris ordered the store's best-known sandwich, the Bobbie, and was immediately hooked. "I started eating there every day," he later told QSR Magazine. "I even broke my lease to move closer to a Capriotti's."

Five years later, Morris was working in the finance sector but still getting his daily Capriotti's fix. "I was in there every day watching the customers and realizing what a fantastic business model it was," he said. "So I bought my first franchise." Morris would go on to own three Capriotti's locations in the Henderson, Nevada area, according to Entrepreneur. When the stores proved to be successful, Morris asked Capriotti's founders, Lois and Alan Margolet, if he could become an area developer for the brand. They had a different idea.

The Margolets had expanded Capriotti's to 44 locations by this time, yet knew the brand had the potential to be a national chain. They just needed someone else to take it there. With that in mind, the pair offered to sell the entire company to Morris, an opportunity he was quick to jump on. "As soon as I heard that," Morris recalled, "I was fully committed." On Jan. 1, 2008, Morris took over as Capriotti's CEO, a position he still holds to this day.

Capriotti's is known for the high-quality meats it uses in its sandwiches

There is no shortage of sandwich chains across the country, not to mention the ubiquitous corner delis everywhere you look. So how does Capriotti's separate itself from the pack? The answer is right there in the sandwich. Instead of the processed cold cuts you find at some fast-casual chains, Capriotti's prepares its protein in-house, ensuring the meat is fresh and flavorful. It's been this way since day one. "[Founder Lois Margolet] was way ahead of her time with respect to using real food," Capriotti's CEO Ashley Morris told Foodservice Equipment & Supplies Magazine. "At the time in the 1970s, when processing had become very popular, she moved away from that."

The practice has remained to this day. According to QSR Magazine, every Capriotti's restaurant slow roasts whole turkeys for 12 hours, prepares 20 pounds of top round beef each day, and makes all of its meatballs in-house from scratch. "Everything is super high quality and all natural," Morris said. "That was really the difference between Capriotti's and the rest of the competition that was out there."

Joe Biden is a fan

In 2013, Capriotti's opened its first store in Washington, D.C., according to DCist. The restaurant didn't have to wait long to greet its first customer, who just so happened to be a VIP. Or, more specifically, the VP. That's right, then-Vice President Joe Biden, along with three of his staffers, were the inaugural patrons of Capriotti's first restaurant in the nation's capital. Biden is a well-known son of Delaware, the home state of Capriotti's. So it's safe to say he's had the company's sandwiches and couldn't wait to get another.

It's no surprise then that the Vice President's mealtime excursion served the dual purpose of devouring a delicious lunch and claiming bragging rights. "This is gonna settle once and for all, the best sandwich in America is out of Wilmington, Del.," Biden said during his visit. "I'm bringing one back for the President. No more of this stuff about Chicago and Philly and New York. This settles it. You guys want to get this settled. And end it. I'm ready man. The President is waiting. I'm having lunch with him today." The only city that came close to reaching Capriotti's level of sandwich greatness, Biden conceded, was Philadelphia with its iconic cheese steaks.

As for order suggestions, Biden recommended the Italian and Bobbie sandwiches. Unfortunately, there are currently no Capriotti's locations in Washington, D.C., which means the now-President will have to travel a bit further to get his hands on his favorite sandwiches.

The chain's most famous sandwich is The Bobbie

The only thing that could possibly compare to a freshly cooked Thanksgiving feast are the meals made from its leftovers. And while your post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich may be delicious, it's nothing compared to the epic creation offered at Capriotti's.

The Bobbie, as it is known, consists of slow-roasted turkey that is topped with cranberry sauce, handmade stuffing, and mayo, all squeezed between two slices of fresh-baked bread. According to Philadelphia Weekly, the sandwich was an original menu item when Capriotti's founders Lois and Alan Margolet opened their first store in 1976. It was named after the pair's aunt Bobbie, who devised the family recipe.

In 2009, voted The Bobbie "The Greatest Sandwich in America" (via QSR). But for all its acclaim, The Bobbie's most significant contribution to Capriotti's success can likely be found at company headquarters. The chain's current CEO, Ashley Morris, got hooked on Capriotti's thanks to The Bobbie. "I wasn't even a big sub fan, but [my roommate] dragged me there, and I ate a Bobbie and it was the greatest thing I had ever eaten," Morris recounted. A few years later, Morris became a franchisee before eventually purchasing the company outright. None of it may have happened if it wasn't for The Bobbie.

Capriotti's owns another restaurant chain

When you think of savory, oven-roasted turkey sandwiches, do you also think of delectable, mouth-watering chicken wings? No? Well, that might soon change thanks to Capriotti's. In January 2021, the sandwich company announced that it had purchased Wing Zone, a fast-casual chain of chicken wing-focused restaurants (via Nation's Restaurant News).

"The acquisition is a natural fit for both brands, as Capriotti's and Wing Zone share many of the same internal values and organizational goals," said Capriotti's CEO Ashley Morris, who took on the same position with Wing Zone. "We look forward to leveraging our expertise in franchising, operational excellence, and technology with Wing Zone's off-premise experience to help both brands continue to grow. We are thrilled to welcome Wing Zone into the Capriotti's family and are excited about what lies ahead."

The executives at Capriotti's believed Wing Zone was loaded with potential. "There was a significant opportunity to build it into the undisputed number two [behind Wingstop] and apply what we're really good at," Capriotti's chief operating and development officer David Bloom told Restaurant Business Online. "To get the technology and the model really perfect to scale and grow at an exponential pace." It appears they were right. At the time of the acquisition, Wing Zone had just 31 locations in the U.S. According to its website, it now has twice as many, less than two years later.

Capriotti's developed the world's first Impossible cheese steak

Unless you've been living under a rock for several years, you've likely aware that plant-based meat is all the rage. Maybe you've even tried some. After all, plant-based meat is offered at a growing number of chain restaurants, including — you guessed it — Capriotti's.

The sandwich shop currently has four vegetarian "meat" offerings on its menu. Amongst them are the vegetarian chicken cheese steak, vegetarian turkey, and vegetarian Cole turkey. It's the last item, however, that is most noteworthy. In 2020, Capriotti's introduced the world's first Impossible Cheese Steak, developed in partnership with the plant-based meat manufacturer Impossible Foods (via QSR Magazine). The sandwich had been tested for months and, according to the chain, received rave reviews from vegetarians and meat eaters alike. This gave Capriotti's the confidence to roll out the Impossible Cheese Steak nationwide.

"No one should have to sacrifice taste just to eat plant-based. Capriotti's is so excited to bring our new Impossible Cheese Steak to diners across the country," Capriotti's CEO Ashley Morris said at the time. "It's essential to us that we have flavorful, satisfying options for all guests. This addition to our menu will continue to open those doors to plant-based diners, while also appealing to our meat-loving fans. I am confident this sandwich is by far the best tasting and highest quality Impossible entrée in the fast-casual space."

Capriotti's is one of the fastest-growing sandwich chains in the country

Capriotti's Sandwich Shop may not be one of the largest sandwich chains in the country just yet. (According to Statista, there are at least 15 such chains with higher annual revenue). But if the company keeps up its current trajectory, it will be joining the sandwich elite in no time.

In 2022, Capriotti's was named to the Inc. 5,000, a list of the fastest-growing companies in the country, across all industries. The rankings were based on revenue growth from 2018 to 2021. Over that three-year period, Capritotti's nearly doubled its revenue with a 93% increase. Of the 5,000 companies included in the list, only 146 were in the food and beverage industry.

"The last few years have been a time of incredible growth for our brand as we have expanded to more than 175 locations across the country with another 285 in development," Capriotti's chief development and operating officer David Bloom said in a statement (via PR Newswire). "This growth is a testament to the strength of our business model and the dedication of our incredible team. To be ranked amongst some of the most powerful companies in America is a true honor and we look forward to seeing our brand continue to strengthen and expand through innovation, ingenuity and resilience."

And one of the best places to work

It's not just customers who enjoy Capriotti's—the chain's employees do, too. In November of 2022, QSR Magazine named Capriotti's one of the 25 best quick-service restaurant brands to work for. According to the outlet, the sandwich chain offers its employees a full suite of benefits, including health, dental, and vision insurance, as well as disability and life insurance. Workers can even receive a full day's pay to volunteer in their communities.

The health and wellness benefits, coupled with an emphasis on career development, have led many Capriotti's employees to stick around. "We've had a number of people from our shops move to management positions for the brand, and some even moved up to corporate positions as well," the company says. "We have people who run entire departments in our corporate office who started out as team members in our store."

QSR Magazine isn't the only publication impressed by Capriotti's treatment of its employees. In May of 2022, the sandwich chain was named a Top Workplace in Nevada by the Las Vegas Review-Journal (via PR Newswire). It was the third consecutive year the chain received the honor, which is based entirely on the results of employee surveys. "If the past few years have taught us anything, it is that workplace culture and employee engagement are critical to our teams' collective success," Capriotti's CEO Ashley Morris said.

The chain has appeared on Food Network

Few publicity boosts can elevate a growing restaurant brand the way an appearance on the Food Network can. Fortunately for Capriotti's, it has made not one, but two such cameos on the popular channel.

The first came on "Unwrapped," a show that gives a behind-the-scenes look at how their favorite food is made. In the episode featuring Capriotti's, "Unwrapped" focused on the chain's famous Bobbie sandwich. Viewers saw every step that goes into making this concoction, from roasting whole turkeys the night before to assembling said turkey, along with stuffing and cranberry sauce.

But Food Network wasn't done with Capriotti's just yet. The chain was also featured on the show "Guilty Pleasures." Once again, it was The Bobbie taking center stage. Television personality Kendra Wilkinson named the Thanksgiving-inspired sandwich her guilty pleasure, giving viewers another glimpse at this delectable meal. "When I bite into it, it's a perfect mixture of flavors," Wilkinson proclaimed. "It's heaven and Thanksgiving all in one."

There are more Capriotti's locations in Vegas than anywhere else

Thoughts of Las Vegas usually conjure up images of bright lights, casinos, and extravagant nightlife—not necessarily cheese steaks and slow-roasted turkey sub sandwiches. But that could change quickly.

When Las Vegas residents Ashely Morris and Jason Smylie took over Capriotti's, the company set up its new headquarters in Sin City (via Vegas Inc.). Not long after, more and more Capriotti's stores opened around the city. It is now the center of the Capriotti's universe, so to speak. There are currently 40 Capriotti's locations within the greater Las Vegas area. That's more than any other state, let alone city, in the country.

The next closest city in terms of total Capriotti's locations is the chain's birthplace of Wilmington, Delaware. There are currently 10 stores scattered across northern Delaware, and 17 total locations in the state. That pales in comparison to the growth Capriotti's has experienced in its new home state. The sandwich chain has two additional stores in southern Nevada and five locations in the Reno area to bring Nevada's total number to 47. "This brand might have started in Delaware, yes, but it's definitely a Vegas brand," Morris told Vegas Inc.

The company once tried using Google Glass to help train employees

When Jason Smylie, Capriotti's current president, first heard of Google Glass back in 2014, he was immediately intrigued. After applying to be a product tester, he became one of the early owners of the new device (via Inc.).

At the time, Smylie was working as Capriotti's CIO and believed the best use of this technology was to help train new employees at his restaurants. Capriotti's began making instructional videos that were loaded onto Google Glass. Trainees could then wear the Glass and watch the videos as they prepared the sandwiches themselves. "The first-person perspective is pretty amazing because you only have to think about one person viewing the video when they are trained," Smylie told Inc. "Employees can use both hands as they work. We are also looking at ways to use this in an active environment. During lunch rushes we can record what they are doing during the rush."

The tool wasn't perfect, however. There were privacy concerns about recording customers and the issue of Google Glass' short battery life (via the Atlantic). Not to mention the device's fragile nature. "In its existing form Glass can be fragile, so you have to train the trainers in proper use," Smylie said. "It was not designed for the restaurant industry—or to be around mayonnaise!"

Capriotti's will soon be an international brand

Capriotti's Sandwich Shop has successfully expanded its footprint across the continental United States. But the sandwich chain is about to take an even bigger step by setting up shop overseas. That's right—Capriotti's will soon be an international company. In November of 2022, the chain announced an agreement with India's Village Food Courts to open a total of 50 Capriotti's and sister brand Wing Zone restaurants within the next five years (via Fast Casual).

"Over the past decade, Indians have begun experimenting with different international cuisines and there is a great demand for high-quality American brands to offer world-class food options to consumers," VFC principle Suraj Arora said. "Capriotti's and Wing Zone fit perfectly into our growing portfolio of premium food concepts and with our aggressive development plans, we plan to scale quickly to offer Indian consumers authentic hand-crafted sandwiches and chicken wings."

Wing Zone already had 30 locations outside of the U.S., but Capriotti's will be opening a store overseas for the first time. "We are very excited to be working with such a great team to expand both the Capriotti's and Wing Zone brands together throughout the Republic of India," said David Bloom, chief development and operating officer for both restaurant brands. India appears to be a prime location to grow both chains. According to Fast Casual, the country is home to the world's fifth-largest economy.