Thursday, June 7, 2012 | 5:53 p.m.
The buzz around popular Las Vegas-based Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop seems to have reached the highest office in the nation.
“I want to thank all the students for coming out here on a nice summer afternoon, some of you might (rather) be at Capriotti’s or some place, but instead you're here with us,” President Barack Obama said to a gathered audience Thursday afternoon at UNLV’s Cox Pavilion.
The president’s shout-out to the home of the Bobbie — a Thanksgiving-inspired combination of turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce — came during the opening remarks of a speech in which he urged Congress to hold down interest rates on federal student loans.
Capriotti’s CEO Ashley Morris, a UNLV graduate, said he was in a meeting when the president mentioned the sandwich shop.
“My first impression was disbelief. I was thinking we need to confirm this before I get super excited,” Morris said. “It’s unbelievable. It’s not every day the president talks about your business.”
Although Capriotti’s doesn’t have any stores in Washington, D.C., Morris said he thought the president may have been turned onto the restaurant by a prominent Delawarean in the White House.
“Joe Biden has been a Capriotti’s fan for years. I think he was nice enough to share his love for our food with the president,” Morris said.
The first Capriotti’s was opened in 1976 in Wilmington, Del. The family-owned chain relocated its base of operations to Las Vegas in the 1990s, and was bought in 2008 by an investment group led by Morris and friend Jason Smylie, also a UNLV graduate.
The company has since embarked on a national expansion, opening stores in 12 states, with plans to eventually open 500 to 1,000 stores nationwide by 2015.
“We’re trying real hard to … have national name recognition,” Morris said. “It’s a true honor for somebody who resides on the East Coast to be thinking about Capriotti’s when he comes to Las Vegas.”