Schlotzsky’s, the Austin- founded sandwich chain, is celebrating 45 years of serving customers oven-baked sandwiches. Starting as a single sandwich shop on South Congress Avenue, Schlotzsky’s has become a staple of dinning in the Austin community and a presence around the world.

“When Schlotzsky’s started in Austin in 1971, it was just one store selling one sandwich, the Schlotzsky,” said Cary Albert, who has been a franchisee for 25 years and operates over 20 Schlotzsky’s stores across Texas. “Now, that sandwich is called The Original, and the store went from one to numerous menu items as they expanded in the Austin area.”

According to Schlotzsky’s, company founders Don and Dolores Dissman opened their second restaurant in Dobie Mall at The University of Texas. In 1977, franchises began popping up across the southeastern United States, and by 1981, Schlotzsky’s had opened its 100th location.

“When we got involved with the company in the early ‘90s, Schlotzsky’s had just got into their deli concept, selling salads, a wider variety of sandwiches and pizzas,” Albert said.

The chain’s marketing changed again in the 2000s with the “Lotz Better” slogan and a bakery/café design concept, Albert said. 

“It was a big menu explosion,” with the inclusion of new soups and pastas made from scratch,” he said. Restaurants were also redesigned with vibrant colors and contemporary artwork.

With Schlotzsky’s reporting over 350 stores worldwide, the brand is again evolving toward a new concept. Albert said a prototype Schlotzsky’s Austin Eatery will be coming to The Park at Bee Cave shopping center, located at the northwest corner of RR 620 and Hwy. 71, in 2017. 

According to Albert, the new Austin Eatery concept will represent fast-casual dining that has been trending in recent years with a wood furniture theme that will make it feel like Texas.

“We’re evolving into an Austin Eatery idea, and it’s really cool,” he said. “When I got started, the competition was Subway and Quiznos Subs. Now it’s fast-casuals, like Panera Bread and Corner Bakery Cafés.”