Chicago-based sandwich chain Potbelly is entering 2021 with a smaller footprint but also a renewed sense of optimism. After the company announced last summer that as many as 100 locations could shutter, a series of successful lease negotiations brought that number down to a more palatable 28. Potbelly currently operates 400 company-owned and 46 franchised restaurants.
With 28 fewer stores, the company's road to recovery will be a more agile one. Potbelly will save $4 million in annual occupancy costs after completing the closures, and it will also avoid roughly $15 million in shop losses from the renegotiated leases, according to QSR Magazine.
Another way that the chain plans to speed up recovery is by paring down its menu, a popular pandemic-era survival tactic among fast-food chains. Potbelly will consolidate its menu boards and create smaller sandwiches and half salads, per QSR. At the same time, it plans to test bigger items with added fixings.
The changes will result in fewer menu items overall, "making for a more efficient system and faster customer experiences," according to CEO Bob Wright. While most of these menu tweaks are still being tested, they're reportedly expected to roll out across the U.S. in the second half of the year.
To stay on top of fast-food trends, be sure to check out the 6 Most Anticipated Fast-Food Menu Items Launching This Year. And don't forget to sign up for our newsletter so you can get all of the latest restaurant news delivered straight to your inbox.