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Potbelly Corp. signs deal with company founder Bryant Keil and his son Hampden for 27 restaurants in Maryland.

Potbelly inks 27-unit Maryland deal with company founder Bryant Keil

Development agreement includes the refranchising of 12 existing restaurants, sandwich brand says

Potbelly Corp., the sandwich chain, has finalized a 27-shop agreement in Maryland with the company’s founder Bryant Keil and his son Hampden, the company said Wednesday.

The Chicago-based sandwich brand said the agreement grants Keil exclusive territory rights in seven Maryland counties — Washington, Frederick, Montgomery, Prince George, Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary’s — to develop 15 new Potbelly shops in the next eight years. Additionally, Potbelly will refranchise 12 existing restaurant locations as part of the deal.

“The Potbelly brand we know and love was shaped by Bryant’s leadership,” said Bob Wright, Potbelly CEO and president, in a statement. “He has a keen understanding of the Potbelly vision and deep appreciation for the brand and what sets us apart.

“He oversaw years of incredible expansion for our brand, and we look forward to him accelerating our growth momentum in Maryland as we continue to execute our strategic franchise and growth strategy across the U.S.,” Wright added. “Along with refranchising several of our existing shops, this agreement will extend Potbelly’s presence in central and southern regions of the state over the next decade, giving residents and visitors more access to our delicious food.”

Wright earlier said the brand has a long-term goal of refranchising 25% of its company-owned units and eventually, according to the company’s initiative, wants 85 of the locations to be franchised.

Keil first purchased Potbelly in 1996, when it was a single antique shop in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. As CEO, he expanded the company to 250 locations by 2008. Today, Potbelly has more than 425 locations.

“For nearly three decades, I’ve believed in the strength of the Potbelly brand and the company’s growth potential,” Keil said. “I’m thrilled for this new partnership and the opportunity to open and operate additional shops on the East Coast. I’m especially excited to partner with my son Hampden to develop the market and our family business. He grew up in Potbelly and has significant restaurant experience. We are both very excited to join the system.”

For the first quarter ended March 26, Potbelly reported a net loss of $1.3 million, or 5 cents a share, down from a loss of $7.9 million, or 28 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. Revenues increased 20% to $118.3 million in the quarter from $98.2 million in the prior-year quarter.

Potbelly posted a first-quarter increase in same-store sales of 22.2%, “driven by strength in traffic and digital marketing, as well as continued momentum in central business district (CBD) and airport shops,” the company said.  Average weekly unit volumes in the quarter were $23,881.

As of March 26, Potbelly had 426 restaurants, including 373 company-owned and 53 franchised units. The company was founded in 1977.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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