This struggling sandwich chain is planning a big comeback with 2,000 locations – Eat This Not That

As was the case with many of its peers, the once-beloved neighborhood sandwich shop Potbelly has suffered greatly during the pandemic. Kicking off 2021 with mass closures of 28 locations, it looked like the Chicago-based brand was on a downward spiral that would be hard to stop. However, the tides are turning for the unstable sandwich supplier, which now plans to offset those closures with hundreds of new locations.

Potbelly Director of Development Larry Strain said RSQ magazine the brand is positioned for massive growth in the years to come. The goal? Growing its more than 400 restaurants in 30 states to reach a national footprint of 2,000. And it plans to get there through a new Franchise Growth Acceleration Initiative, a massive franchise push that will add new operators to the chain network.

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Coming out of the pandemic, Potbelly saw obvious growth through shrinking its menu and pivoting its business model to digital. In the fourth quarter of 2021, its same-store sales increased by 33.8% over the same period in 2020, marking a remarkable recovery.

Potbelly has updated its app, website, online ordering system and loyalty program. Previously, the sandwich chain relied on foot traffic and was strategically placed in urban areas and near airports, all of which were hardest hit during the pandemic lockdown. Now, since its technological overhaul, the the company reported that 36% of its orders go digital.

“Digital is definitely here to stay,” Strain said. RSQ magazine in an interview. “And that’s something that we’ve been focusing on a lot. If there’s a positive side to COVID, it’s helped restaurant businesses better understand the importance of digital ordering, and it’s something we took head-on.”

Potbelly has capitalized on its fast food niche. The sandwich chain was popular with customers for having a neighborhood appeal, where some locations even offered live music performances by local musicians during lunch hours. An antique store turned sandwich shop, Potbelly retained a rustic interior and was slower to modernize. When it finally opened his first drive-thru in 2007McDonald’s already had one for 60 years.

The chain will continue to specialize in its oven-toasted sandwiches and “good vibe culture,” according to Strain, but will also highlight soups, salads, mac and cheese, hand-dipped shakes and fresh cookies. of the day baked in the oven. Additionally, the brand intends to maintain its extensive restoration program.

Read on with 9 secrets America’s most controversial fast food chain doesn’t want you to know, although you might not want to peek behind that curtain.

Amber Lake

Amber Lake is a staff writer at Eat This, Not That! and holds a journalism degree from UNF in Jacksonville, Florida. Read more

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