Capriotti’s was founded in 1976 by Lois Margolet and her brother, Alan, who were were inspired by the sandwich shops where they lived in Wilmington, Delaware’s Little Italy. The first shop they opened was in a storefront beneath their apartment and was named after their grandfather, Philip Capriotti, who loved to cook. Today, Capriotti’s Sandwich Shops is headquartered in Las Vegas and boasts over 100 units in 20 states.
From the beginning, the Margolets knew they wanted to create a sandwich for “real turkey lovers,” says Jane McPherson, senior vice president of marketing, so they started roasting whole fresh turkeys overnight. “This concept set them apart from their competition and still does,” says McPherson. “Word spread about their fresh roasted turkey, in addition to their other quality meats, cheeses, fresh rolls and produce.”
That original turkey sandwich was called The Bobbie, named after their Aunt Bobbie, and it became one of their signature menu items. Made with real turkey, stuffing, cranberry and mayonnaise, it remains a best seller for the chain some 43 years later. Its legions of fans call the sandwich “Thanksgiving in a roll.”
Over the years, other roasted turkey sandwiches have joined the menu, including the Cole Turkey, made with slow-roasted, homemade turkey, provolone cheese, Russian dressing, cole slaw, and mayo; the Cran Slam Club, featuring homemade turkey, cranberry sauce, ham, lettuce and mayo on a choice of white or wheat bread; and the BBQ Turkey, prepared from homemade turkey, mixed greens, crispy fried onions, diced tomatoes, a corn and black bean mix, chipotle ranch dressing and BBQ sauce.
While some restaurants only feature turkey around Thanksgiving, Capriotti’s makes a point to offer turkey year-round.Turkey is perceived by many consumers as being lighter and healthier than other proteins, so it makes sense on any menu from better-for-you standpoint, but Capriotti’s turkey stands out. “Our turkey is also roasted in-house every night, using Butterball turkeys,” says McPherson. “There is only one ingredient in our turkey—and that’s turkey. You won’t find any fillers or other unnecessary ingredients. Our quality of turkey speaks for itself.”
“At Capriotti’s, we believe if something isn’t broken, why fix it? What’s important is remaining authentic to who we are and to the signature flavors our fans know and love,” says McPherson, also a member of the chain’s menu development team.
When developing new menu items, Capriotti’s focuses on the restaurant’s culinary philosophy of serving whole, real foods cooked in a homestyle way. The chain is passionate about upholding that standard, and the team uses it as a starting point for recipe ideation. By committing to using fresh, premium ingredients, including hand-pulled turkey and beef roasted in-house every day—as well as other scratch-made menu items, such as cole saw, stuffing, meatballs and tuna salad—the chain has been able to distinguish themselves from the competition. By maintaining the integrity of their ingredients and the consistency of menu items, they’ve been able to set themselves apart from the rest.
Today, the Capriotti’s menu is expansive and offers something for everyone. In addition to focusing on premium ingredients, the menu development team also keeps loyal diners in mind in particular when developing new items and LTOs. “For example, the cheesesteak is one of our most beloved sandwiches. We’re currently testing three cheesesteak varieties in select markets, such as Chipotle Chicken Ranch, BBQ Chicken and Chicken Parmesan. These LTOs build on the classic flavor of the cheesesteak, just with added twists,” explains McPherson. Another idea currently in test is a turkey noodle soup.
Capriotti’s menu development team is always innovating, but they don’t do it alone. “We receive many of our ideas for new menu items from our employees and our amazing fans. We love to connect with them on a local level, taking the time to really listen to what they’re asking for so that we can deliver exactly what they want next from Capriotti’s.”
For more ideas and inspiration around making turkey a part of the menu, visit Butterball’s Culinary Center.
This post is sponsored by Butterball Foodservice