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This Struggling Sandwich Chain Could Be Making a Comeback

The brand is on the up and up thanks to a smaller menu and a new tech platform.

It's no secret that Potbelly has been struggling. The sandwich chain started the year with mass closures of some 28 locations, down from what was originally predicted to be 100 shuttered restaurants. Additionally, the chain's sales were severely affected by the pandemic, thanks to traffic losses at restaurants situated in urban business centers and at airports—some of Potbelly's signature locations.

But the chain is now on the up and up, as its earnings beat expectations in the most recent fiscal quarter. The recovery momentum for the chain is strong, thanks to a new simplified menu strategy and the fact that customers are still flocking to their suburban and drive-thru locations.

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Potbelly began testing a simplified menu earlier this year, which yielded "very successful results," according to QSR Magazine. The chain has consolidated its menu boards and created smaller sandwiches and half salads. At the same time, it debuted several bigger items loaded with more meats and cheeses, as well as new sandwiches like the Avocado Turkey and Steakhouse Beef.

The changes are yielding fewer menu items overall, "making for a more efficient system and faster customer experiences," according to CEO Bob Wright. The new menu will be rolling out at all Potbelly locations in the coming weeks.

But there are more customer-friendly changes taking place at the sandwich shop. Potbelly has recently launched a new mobile app and website, which are now much easier to use, according to Jeff Douglas, Potbelly's chief information officer. The app, which also integrates the chain's loyalty program, will have more customized suggestions for each customer and will be friendlier for browsing without starting an order.

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Mura Dominko
Mura is a Deputy Editor leading ETNT's coverage of America's favorite fast foods and restaurant chains. Read more