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Potbelly Sandwich Shop Case Study

Greasy effluent separation compliance is an issue for every foodservice operation, but the Trapzilla grease interceptor helped make it a non-issue for one Potbelly Sandwich Works store.

Potbelly Sandwich Shop

Grease might be called the bane of a food-service operator’s existence. Oils and fats are an essential part of the cooking process, but getting rid of them can present a problem. Traditional grease separators (sometimes referred to as grease traps) consume precious real estate, are cumbersome to install, and represent an ongoing maintenance and replacement expense. If grease builds up in the lines, it can cause operational problems and health hazards. There are municipal codes regulating grease disposal as well.

That was the problem recently for Potbelly Sandwich Works, the national chain serving toasty sandwiches and hand-dipped shakes and smoothies. Charles Tanner, Senior Director of Construction and Facilities for Potbelly, explained: “We built a shop in Issaquah, Washington, where we were required to use a 1,500-gallon grease interceptor out in the parking lot. Due to the sewer height under our space being too high, we were going to have to dig a trench of literally 300 feet and place the grease trap out in the parking lot.”

Tanner turned to Dave Holte of Johnson Industries in Seattle for help. Holte was familiar with the problem. “Most municipalities in our jurisdiction want a big concrete vault,” he said. “That’s the way it’s been for the last hundred years.” Obviously, installing a concrete vault for the grease interceptor would run into a significant investment and entail major construction time, as a plumbing line would have to run “through the center of the building all the way out to the street,” Holte said. He knew of a solution: the Trapzilla® grease interceptor from Thermaco.

Potbelly TZ-160 with FTCA-22

The compact footprint of the Trapzilla interceptor allowed it to be installed inside the restaurant as opposed to 300 feet from the building. Holte adds that the cost of installing Trapzilla was “quite a bit less” than the traditional concrete vault because it’s a one or two-man installation. “Usually the excavation crew will put in a concrete vault and have a plumber tie into it,” he says. “With Trapzilla, the plumber can set it, plumb into it, and plumb out of it. Basically you have one person doing the job.” Trapzilla met the City of Issaquah’s stringent requirements, making it a win-win for all concerned.

For Potbelly, Trapzilla has taken care of the headache of grease removal easily and economically. Tanner says, “We are happy to have a product that works great, gets city approval and saves us a ton of time and money!” With Trapzilla’s lower installation costs and long life, the savings for an operator like Potbelly can add up to tens of thousands of dollars.

Bill Batten, CEO and owner of Thermaco, says, “Thermaco prides itself on helping restaurants get where they want to go, even when space constraints and compliance to local code make this seem impossible. So we were understandably excited to hear a Trapzilla grease interceptor helped Potbelly Sandwich Works in this way.”

Trapzilla: Taking Care of Grease

More and more operators are turning to Trapzilla to solve their grease removal problems. Trapzilla may have a compact footprint, but it has mighty grease containment power – the smallest footprint per pound of retained grease available on the market. That size advantage means you can install a Trapzilla in places where alternative products cannot fit. Municipalities like Trapzilla because of the greater retention capacity and constant separation efficiency. Older grease interceptors provide separation efficiency only up to about 25 percent of capacity, but Trapzilla can hold up to 85 percent of its internal volume in grease.

Concrete vaults require a crane to lower them into place and large trucks to transport them to the site because of their bulk and weight. Trapzilla units are small and light, lowered by hand into place and fit in the back of a pickup truck. What’s more, Trapzilla is far more durable than steel or concrete vaults. It’s constructed from tough polyethylene to guarantee a long life – far longer than the seven to ten years you might expect from steel or concrete. That saves money in the long run.

No matter where you need a grease interceptor, there’s a Trapzilla model that’s just right for your operation. Whether it’s buried in the ground, embedded in the kitchen floor or installed upright in a mechanical room, Trapzilla will adapt to the particular challenges an application site presents. For larger operations, multiple units can be plumbed in parallel for even more grease removal.

Check out Trapzilla grease and solids interceptors and you’ll see why they are more efficient and cost-effective than traditional concrete grease interceptors.

Download the pdf version of the Potbelly Sandwich Shop Case Stdy