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Operation Coleslaw': Pittsburgh Restaurant Rises to Beck 300 Sandwich Challenge

"The first thing we did was panic."

Last week Glenn Beck dropped into Pittsburgh (where your Blaze managing editor lives) for the big "Broke" stage event that was simulcast to movie theaters across the country.

During the radio show in the morning, Glenn & Company devoured a few of the sandwiches sent over to the studio by Primanti Bros. For those not familiar, a Primanti's sandwich is a Pittsburgh staple distinctive by the inclusion of cole slaw and fries inside the sandwich.

The radio show brunch triggered some last minute brainstorming for the evening's stage show.  Glenn decided he wanted more sandwiches.  Like 300 of the them.  And this all had to happen in a hurry.   The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tells us how it all came together:

Moments after Beck's 2 p.m. call, Operation Coleslaw swung into action.

"The first thing we did," Smith recalled, "was panic."

The second thing was to establish an operations base. The Primanti Bros. on Cherry Way, Downtown, was chosen because it could assemble Beck's sandwiches exclusively after its early 5 p.m. closing time.

A three-member sandwich special ops team — headed by Mike Mitcham, general manager of Primanti's Market Square location — was deployed with orders to rapidly fire every weapon in the arsenal.

To say those orders were followed to the letter is an understatement.

"We started around 5:15 and finished around 7:15," Mitcham said. "We made 170 cheesteaks, 130 capicolas and the big one."

The "big one" was an enormous fish sandwich that Beck wanted to use during his performance as an onstage prop representing the federal budget. His intention was to illustrate how the budget could be trimmed by removing fries.

The special ops loaded the sandwiches into Mitcham's Trailblazer and sped down Grant Street toward the Benedum. Tensions briefly mounted as the trio encountered traffic from fans late for the Penguins game at Consol Energy Center, but they pulled up at the backstage door moments before showtime.

Mission accomplished.

You can read the rest of the account here.

For the record, here is a little history of the Primanti Bros. sandwich:

Back in the 1930's, Joe Primanti opened a cart in the Strip District selling sandwiches to truckers on the go. It was decided that he should expand to a small restaurant on 18th Street. The hours were 3am to 3pm to accomodate truckers and the like. His brothers, Dick and Stanley, joined him along with nephew John DePriter who was the cook.

According to John, "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." And the rest is history. The Primanti Sandwich: a true taste of Pittsburgh.

One last thing…
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