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West Fargo native bringing Potbelly to area

Stephanie Bayman will be a partner in Potbelly Sandwich Shop opening soon. Carrie Snyder

Potbelly Sandwich Shop, a Chicago staple for foodies, will be opening a restaurant this summer at 4445 17th Ave. S., marking the first time the franchise will be available to North Dakota residents.

This is being done with the help of operating partner Stephanie Bayman, a West Fargo native with over 20 years experience in the food management business.

“We are just happy to be here,” Bayman said. “This is the right fit for us and for the area.”

Bayman has spent most of her life in West Fargo. She was a 1991 graduate of West Fargo High School, and spent “a ton” of time performing in the musical theater department and singing the national anthem before sporting events.

“I was known as ‘the singer’ in town,” Bayman said. “If there was something going on at the school, it was more than likely I was singing there.”

She never felt a need to leave the area, as it is a good place to raise a family. She had two daughters with her ex-husband, who are now growing up in the same school system she grew up in.

“I feel like I know everybody here, even though the town keeps growing,” Bayman said. “Most of my family lives here, the schools are fantastic and the people are great.”

Though she majored in mass communications, Bayman joined the food management business shortly after college and hasn’t looked back, working for several major chains.

In March of 2011, she opened the first Tutti Frutti, a popular self-serve frozen yogurt eatery, in the Fargo-Moorhead area and is now the operating partner of three Tutti Frutti frozen yogurt shops in the area.

“No day is ever the same,” Bayman said. “It is the same product and the same idea, but there are so many uncontrollables, and I love the craziness and the unforeseen things you need to roll with. I like talking to people and getting to know the regulars.”

As the operating partner, Bayman is in charge of hiring staff and making sure the Tutti Fruttis and what will be the 19th Potbelly Sandwich Shop in the nation is up to the franchise’s standards.

Potbelly Sandwich Shop, named for the potbelly stove in each restaurant, has an antique setting that is individualized for the location it is built. Bayman is currently looking for old photos from the Fargo-Moorhead area to hang in the building.

“It’s also known as the ‘neighborhood sandwich shop,’” Bayman said. “It has a very unique vibe, like a cool downtown Chicago shop.”

The shop is also known for its live, local music that will often be played - a feature that stood out to Bayman.

“Music used to be my identity for so long,” Bayman said. “This is my way of filling that void. That was a big draw for me.”

What excites Bayman the most is the chance to bring something new to the Fargo area, which, in her mind, is an underappreciated and misunderstood area.

“Every new thing puts the area on the map a little more, and it is fun to be a part of something from the ground up,” Bayman said. “I feel like we get made fun of a bit with the movie and the accents and things like that, so it is nice to bring something positive.”

The Potbelly Sandwich shop is slated to open in August.