Our Story

Our Long, Proud & Colorful History

Old time photo of Primantis During the Great Recession

Joe Primanti Had a Vision.

Even during the Great Depression Pittsburgh’s Strip District was a bustling hub of activity, with trucks transporting goods in and out of the city at all times of day. It was here that Joe set up a humble sandwich cart, selling hearty sandwiches to hungry truckers.

Sales were good, so Joe partnered with his brothers and rolled his bustling business to a storefront at 18th and Smallman. It was there – open 3am to 3pm every day – that inspiration met opportunity and our Almost Famous sandwich was born.

Historic Primanti Bros Images

Just how did fries end up on the sandwich?

According to Joe’s cousin John DiPriter: "One winter, a fella drove in with a load of potatoes. He brought a few of 'em over to the restaurant to see if they were frozen. I fried the potatoes on our grill and they looked pretty good. A few of our customers asked for them, so I put the potatoes on their sandwiches.” Simple!

A sketch of the anatomy of a Primanti's Sandwich
The Founders of Primanti's

Joe retired to California in the 1940’s, but his family kept the restaurant humming along for another 30 years. By the 1970’s, however, it was time to pass along the tradition to a new owner. Jim Patrinos purchased the restaurant and maintained the tradition of serving high-quality food to busy locals. But he also saw an opportunity to grow, including a move to be open 24 hours a day, and opening the second Primanti Bros. location near the University of Pittsburgh. The boom was on.

Over the years restaurants have opened all over Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and Indiana. All of them honor Joe’s original vision – serve high quality food to industrious people who appreciate a good value. The venues may change, and the menu has expanded, but Primanti Bros. is always working hard to be your home town favorite no matter your home-town.