Potbelly

October 18, 2020

Good Vibes.
Great Sandwiches.

Way back around the end of the hippy days, 1977, to be exact, Peter Hastings and his wife owned a little antique shop that they called Hindsight.

The shop, which overflowed with weird and wonderful treasures and antiques, was located at 2264 North Lincoln Avenue in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois.

Things were going well for the Hastings and they were happy but, they knew they could always do better. So, they started serving sandwiches to their customers.

The Neighborhood Sandwich Shop
Well, we all know how well word of mouth advertising works! Soon, Hindsight became the neighborhood sandwich shop, with lineups reaching outside the shop and all the way around the corner. That said, Potbelly’s promise was to serve their customers quickly so they would have time to sit and relax on the lunch break.

Where it all began.
The original

Potbelly Sandwich Shop on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago, Illinois.

The antique shop was such an interesting and unique place to pick up a lunchtime sandwich and, with homemade desserts and live music, it’s no wonder Potbelly quickly became the place to go for lunch.

Potbelly’s 450 U.S. Sandwich Shop Locations

Soon, Hindsight the antique store became Potbelly Sandwich Shop, with many of the wonderful old antiques remaining to decorate the shop, in particular, the potbelly stove.

And then came Bryant Keil
In 1995, a young entrepreneur named Bryant Keil had a vision to expand the sandwich shop into a chain. Despite cautions from family and friends, he pulled together $1.7 million and bought the Potbelly Sandwich Shop. By 2005, Keil had opened another 100 Potbelly shops and by 2013, yet another 200 shops were opened.  

Talk about a big collection of potbellies!
There’s a potbelly stove in every one of the 450 Potbelly sandwich shops in the United States.

Today, there are 450 Potbelly
sandwich shops in the United States.

Drive-through
On November 5, 2007, a new Potbelly store opened up in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and became the first to feature a drive-through. A second drive-through store was added soon after in Waukegan, Illinois

THE POTBELLY MENU
Potbelly’s menu features a wide selection of sandwiches that are all served hot.
In 2007, Potbelly began offering salads.
The menu also includes soup, shakes, malts, smoothies, and cookies that are always
baked the same day.

As of August 2019, approximately 10% of the chains 450 US locations were franchisees.

Investors include Maveron (Founded by Starbucks Founder, Howard Schultz) and American Securities.

Potbelly Corporation is a publicly-traded restaurant chain that sells submarine sandwiches and other edibles in the United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Canada, and Kuwait. The company headquarters are in Chicago, Illinois.

Potbelly is the fastest-growing sandwich chain in the U.S., posting revenues of $64 million in 2004, up 78 percent from the year before. Over the same time period, industry leader Subway increased sales 10 percent to $6.3 billion; Quizno’s sales rose 37 percent to $1.1 billion; and Jimmy John’s rose 56 percent to $164 million. These figures are all based on research by Technomic, a Chicago-based restaurant consultancy.

As of 2019, Potbelly Sandwich Shops had $446 million in sales from its 471 US shops.

Peter Hastings, now owns a Web-based company that sells disposable ear piercers. He lives with his wife and one of his two sons on the North Side of Chicago. And, yes, he does keep a few mementos from his Potbelly days.

Gloria Sauvé
Communications and Marketing

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