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Potbelly, Other New Restaurants on the Way at Bella Bottega

The popular sandwich chain will open its first Redmond location later this spring.

Changes are coming to Redmond's Bella Bottega shopping center as its property owners continue negotiating leases and seeking tenants for a number of vacant spaces.

One deal that has been finalized is with Potbelly Sandwich Works, a popular Chicago-based chain that recently began opening stores in the Seattle area. The Bella Bottega location will occupy the empty corner space near QFC and could open as soon as the end of March, according to Bella Bottega property manager Brad Merlino.

Potbelly is known for its custom-made sandwiches and old-fashioned milkshakes, along with a retro atmosphere featuring antique signs and live music. The Redmond location will be the fourth Potbelly in Washington state, joining locations in downtown Seattle and Bellevue.

Several vacant spaces at the other end of the shopping center will also eventually be occupied by new dining spots, Merlino said. Three Thai restaurants that are already "established in the Puget Sound region" have made offers for the , Merlino said, and a frozen yogurt shop will likely take over another empty space near .

“(Frozen yogurt) seems to be something that’s a pretty hot trend right now, and it would be a great fit,” he said, citing the proximity to .

Merlino said two other vacant shops between and  will likely also be occupied by some sort of restaurant, ideally offering a cuisine that's not already represented in the shopping center, such as Italian and Mexican.

“The thing is to have diversity but also create synergy,” he said.

The Bella Bottega shopping center opened in 1985 and is owned by Merlino's father and uncle, who also operate a family construction business together.

Many of the vacancies were caused by the economic downturn, Merlino said, but he sees promise in the amount of interest businesses are currently showing toward the shopping center. Plenty of offers have been rejected, and the property owners are being "very picky" about who moves in, Merlino said.

“We don’t want to take the first people that come around,” he said.

GlutenCaseinFree Customer June 26, 2012 at 03:26 AM
Today I had my first and last experience at Potbelly Sandwich Shop. The only positive: the sandwich was decently assembled. Everything else was disappointing: the "extra" onion/lettuce/tomato on the sandwich were almost non-existent; the mayo on the side was contaminated with other ingredients; the hot peppers on the side were badly oily and mixed or contaminated with other ingredients; the cheese on the sandwich is undetectable and the meat is barely noticeable; the soup was run of the mill, bland except for salt and watery; the prices are a joke for the quality level and portion size; the bacon was rubbery and cold; the entire menu of this shop for my gluten and milk protein (casein) free diet without giving up ingredients they won't replace with cheaper alternatives without charging me extra is one thing - the vegetable soup. The topper for me was that when I wanted to substitute mushrooms instead of blue cheese (and surely the blue cheese costs more) on a salad I was told they won't do that and the mushrooms would cost extra. I skipped getting anything for myself and I won't be going back.

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