OnSLAWT sandwich: what Primanti’s has planned as it enters its 90th year


AAs the new CEO of Primanti Brothers, Adam Golomb’s main objective is “not to mess it up”.

After spending four years as president and chief marketing officer of the 90-year-old company, Golomb began the new gig on Jan. 1, taking the spot most recently filled by outgoing CEO David Head. Golomb, a native of Mount Lebanon, earned her master’s degree at Penn State University and turned that education into a career with other iconic local brands such as Giant Eagle and Eat’n Park.

It bleeds black and gold – and Trappey’s Red Devil Cayenne Pepper sauce.

“It’s like playing the Pittsburgh lottery,” he laughs. “When they were looking for someone to lead marketing, they wanted someone who understood Pittsburgh, loved it, and respected it. I eat here three or four times a week.

“I’ve had every sandwich on the menu, but I’m a pastrami guy.”

Sitting at a table inside Primanti’s original location at 46 18th St. in the Strip District, Golomb looks around the “new” room, which was added 35 years ago. The space was recently updated, but still has an old-fashioned charm, especially if longtime employee Toni Haggerty is on duty. (Read more about this 5-foot legend on page 75.)

In his 10 years as CEO, Head grew the company from 13 locations to more than 40, creating a regional restaurant powerhouse. Golomb wants to continue this trend by staying true to the brand’s roots while embracing the future.

The plan is to open five locations a year (including what will become the largest Primanti to date, in the North Hills) while introducing the “Almost Famous” sandwich, not to mention the chain’s pizza and wings. , to even more people beyond the Steel City.

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The food

Since 1933, when Joe Primati first set up a food cart on the Strip, the restaurant known for putting meat, cheese, fries and coleslaw between two slices of bread has been a staple of the city. Pittsburgh culture. Want to know who’s who in town? Just look at artist Dave Klug’s mural the next time the yinz are around.

And while most people are loyal to a particular sandwich (mine is capicola, egg and cheese), the company introduces a new creation every six to seven weeks. Golomb says they even put an Impossible Burgh Burgh on the menu at one point, but only sold three.

“It’s not what our fans wanted. We know what the brand is and we try to focus on our foods rather than trying to be something for everyone,” he explains. “We offer ways to customize your sandwich and our team is great at working with people’s food allergies.”

Occasionally you’ll hear yinzers complaining about the lack of Mancini bread made by McKees Rocks at Primanti, but Golomb says the company employs different third-party bakeries at each location to make Italian breads using a 50-year-old recipe. . Locally, Mr. Cibrone & Sons Italian Bakery & Deli and Cellone’s Italian Bread Co. handle the dough.

The #1 seller is The Pitts-Burgher, a seasoned beef patty with all the yinzer fixins. Of course, Golomb will half-jokely tell you that beer outsells food. A few months ago, Primanti partnered with Slippery Rock’s North Country Brewing Co. to produce its first branded beer, Almost Famous Red Ale. It’s currently available in locations in Pennsylvania and Ohio.


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So how do you take a Pittsburgh brand that’s so, well, Pittsburgh, and launch it into different markets, especially those considered “enemy territory” by Steelers fans?

“We embrace the culture and history of Pittsburgh, but you have to lean into the local community and try to become a place of incredible value,” says Golomb, who adds that the real estate team is targeting Maryland, Virginia. and Ohio. and Eastern Pennsylvania. “The goal is to open 30 minutes from the last location so that there is brand recognition.”

Build-wise, if you’ve seen a Primanti, you’ve seen a Primanti; each site is a little different. Klug paints murals in every store, incorporating that city’s athletes, politicians, musicians and TV personalities. The company also excels in promotional gadgets and social media giveaways that create a loyal fan base.

When a restaurant debuted in Hanover, York County last September, Primanti’s celebrated by giving away free sandwiches for a year to the first 100 customers through the door.

More than 200 people showed up, many of whom slept out overnight to score one home sammich a week for 52 weeks. Primati’s will run the promotion each time it opens a new place.

Three new stores are in the works this year, including a two-story, 9,000-square-foot behemoth in Ross Township’s McIntyre Square.

The former Don Pablo building will be the largest Primanti Brothers to date and will feature private event space.


The influence of the Primati brothers

Although the clientele is mostly male, the offers are aimed at different income levels and age groups. Golomb says if you go to the bar on a Saturday night, you might find yourself between a billionaire and a working man.

While in Texas for a business conference, Golomb started chatting with his taxi driver, who during the conversation revealed he had three Primanti t-shirts at home. Another die-hard fan ordered 35 sandwiches from the Pittsburgh International Airport restaurant to take out for a meeting in Idaho.

President Joe Biden stopped when he was on the presidential campaign trail, as did Hillary Clinton. The sandwiches have been featured on The Travel Channel, The Food Network and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and imitated – but never duplicated – on menus coast to coast. Couples have even hitched up at Primanti Brothers, bonding over “almost famous” sandwiches.

“He’s a humble boaster,” Golomb said. “We’re only as good as the last sandwich we sold, but we hope to be here for another 90 years.”