Sub Love: Minnesota’s First Capriotti’s Opens In Edina

Order a sub and salad combo for a tasty and filling lunch on the go.

Once bitten, once smitten. So the story goes with subs from Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop. Their sandwiches are revered by some and fondness for the food reaches the fanatical. Enter Jeff Kegel and his partner Gavin Rydell. These native Midwesterners opened the Edina Capriotti’s this year.

Apparently, restaurant ownership was Kegel’s destiny, not surprising, since food preparation’s been a big part of his life. Kegel’s Inn in West Allis, Wis. has been in his family since 1924, now in its fourth generation with a distant cousin at the reins. His mother worked in the food industry also. In keeping with tradition, Kegel wanted his own food business. “I guess all the dinner table conversations growing up really paid off,” Kegel says.

His new Capriotti’s restaurant partnership resulted from fate, fortune and food. There’s no stopping a few guys with a sub craze. Rydell introduced Kegel to a die-hard fan of Capriotti’s, Dylan Nichols from Las Vegas, a transplant turned Twin Cities resident. “He would drive down to Madison and pick up coolers, coolers-full of Capriotti’s sandwiches,” Kegel says. “He drove up a sandwich for me. I had a Bobbie, and I absolutely fell in love.” From that moment Kegel was hooked. He had to bring Capriotti’s subs to Minn.

Within two weeks, Kegel and Rydell visited the franchise headquarters in Las Vegas. They signed an area development agreement for the rights to open three Capriotti’s in the Twin Cities.

The Las Vegas–based chain has roots reaching back to Little Italy in Wilmington, Del. Starting in 1976, the family-owned sub business thrived in a region where subs abound. Famed for roasted turkey sandwiches, Capriotti’s popularity grew and blossomed into more shops. In the ’90s, Capriotti’s ownership changed and the company moved west. Currently, most of the sub shops are on the east or west coast.

The Edina location is the first in the Twin Cities with Kegel and Rydell’s remaining shops targeted for the
spring of 2019.

Networking made the Edina Capriotti’s a reality on every level. “The Edina Chamber of Commerce has been incredibly helpful and really have welcomed us to this community. They’ve just been a tremendous resource, and really, I look at them as one of our greatest advocates …” Kegel says. Edina Chamber meetings, professional connections, business updates and other resources benefited the restaurant. “They certainly helped make our decision easier for the Edina location,” he says.

The Edina shop made sense. “We decided with all the development going on around here, the amount of housing that’s going up, offices—it was just a good anchor location for us to start out,” Rydell says.

Community is important at Capriotti’s. Earlier this year, Kegel and Rydell participated in the Taste of Edina and plan to do other local events. Youth athletics are a particular interest—the Edina Youth Basketball Association and swim team to name a few. “Staying involved in the community is definitely a point of emphasis,” Kegel says.

The sense of community is apparent. Capriotti’s has a welcoming atmosphere. Expect a “hello” at the door. Staff make a habit of greeting guests and saying, “thank you.”

The 49-seat fast causal restaurant has a patio (dogs welcome outside). Dine in, take-out or request catering. Salads and soups are available for the non-bread crowd and can be added to a sub meal or ordered separately, but subs rule. Award-winning subs are the norm at Capriotti’s. From best sandwich to best fast food, the accolades cover an entire wall.

“Everything’s made to order. We’re able to customize any type of sandwich and then we’re extremely passionate about it. More goes into a sub than it shows.

Put aside any notions of the ordinary. These are clever tasting subs. Save the cranberry sauce—the usual ingredients are there: meat, cheese, vegetables, buns and seasonings. But creative groupings, diligent preparation methods and commitment to freshness produce a memorable taste. Capriotti’s subs are unique and unmistakably flavorful with a happy heartiness. Call these sandwiches family-style with a twist. Even vegetarians have options here, with four no-meat sandwiches on the menu.

Recipes are tried-and-true winners, some go back to the original founders. The buns derived from a family recipe perfected by Lois Margolet in the ’70s.

A slightly chewy texture bonds a pillow of yeasty softness, an appropriate foundation for a uniformly layered sandwich.

Quality preparation is another key to a great sandwich. The meatballs, coleslaw and stuffing (a surprise ingredient) are housemade, plus the roast beef and turkey are slow-roasted. “We don’t do things the easy way. We do things we like to call the Capriotti’s way. So we in-house roast all of our turkeys and roast beef,” Kegel says. “We slow roast our turkeys for 12 hours overnight and pull ’em every morning, and it’s so tender, we just pull it right off.”

The founder’s aunt Bobbie inspired Capriotti’s namesake sub. Today, the Bobbie is dubbed as America’s favorite sub. The sandwich has a nostalgic appeal. “It reminds me of family. It reminds me of good food, good times and, quite honestly, the sandwich is phenomenal. It sold me on Capriotti’s,” Kegel says.

The Bobbie sports a stuffing-turkey-cranberry sauce trio topped with mayo. While the combination might sound odd for a sandwich, the festive flavors play into each other. “It’s Thanksgiving on a bun,” Rydell says. “It’s like every person who celebrates Thanksgiving in America eats this, and it’s like ‘aah’ the day after—this is amazing.”

The Bobbie and other subs are loaded with meats and toppings and the small, 9-inch size makes a good serving, according to Rydell. The medium, 12-inch is built for sharing. Thinking large-scale eating? A pound of meat goes on the 20-inch sub. “I’ve seen families order the large for a family of four,” Kegel says. “I’ve also seen one individual eat the whole thing.”
 
A whole 20-inch sub for one? There are those days.