Potbelly Sandwich Shop has reworked its menu, providing more mix-and-match options and smaller milkshakes, the Chicago-based fast-casual sandwich chain said this week.
The revamp is part of a turnaround strategy that CEO Alan Johnson has been working on for the past year at the chain, which has about 490 restaurants. The strategy also included hiring fine-dining chef Ryan LaRoche as director of culinary innovation, and former Papa John’s chief marketing officer Brandon Rhoten to take that role at Potbelly.
At the end of last year Potbelly Corp. also hired a new chief financial officer, Thomas Fitzgerald, and promoted Julie Younglove-Webb to chief restaurant operations officer from senior vice president of operations.
The new menu was tested at 58 locations last year and offers a “pick-your-pair” option in which guests can choose any combination of half a sandwich, mac & cheese, chili, a cup of soup and a half-sized salad. The pairing option also allows for discounted chips, fountain drinks and a new 10-ounce “short shake.”
That test helped maximize guest checks, Johnson said during an earnings call last November.
“We’ve all had the experience of standing at a restaurant’s menu board in a bit of a panic, unsure of what to order and worried we’re making the restaurant and other customers unhappy by slowing down the line,” Rhoten said in a press release announcing the revamp.
“Our current research says we can give customers a more accessible, more casual ordering experience, leaving more time for them to relax and enjoy their lunch, and they’ll reward us with more of their business.”
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