California’s second helping of Potbelly Sandwich Shop may soon come to San Bernardino County.
The Chicago-based chain announced in May that it would open its first four California locations in Orange County, and it’s exploring franchisees in San Bernardino County now.
“We would love to be in San Bernardino next,” said Chris Birkinshaw, senior director of domestic franchising for Potbelly. “We see the high growth in our area as really attractive for us being able to service folks’ needs.”
The Inland Empire isn’t the only place Birkinshaw is looking — “We think every neighborhood deserves a Potbelly,” he said in an interview this week — but it’s a top contender, he said.
Southern California, the East Bay and Central Valley are all targets for the next few years, according to the company.
“I’m actively exploring the right franchisees for our system with the wherewithal to open a store,” Birkinshaw said.
Ideally, they’d already be a fan, but the quick summary is this: “Potbelly is a lively neighborhood hangout with live music, a really cozy environment, of course our delicious toasty warm sandwiches made how customers like them with meats and cheeses that are handsliced every day, delicious desserts, all for a good value,” Birkinshaw said.
He said he hopes other potential franchisees will go to potbelly.com and bring in the store, known for its “neighborhood atmosphere” and toasted sandwiches.
Yorba Linda businessman Sameer Bhatia signed the first agreement to open four restaurants in South Orange County over the next three years, according to Potbelly.
“I am a longtime fan of the brand myself and I can’t wait to watch the SoCal lunchtime crowd fall in love with Potbelly’s delicious sandwiches and neighborhood atmosphere,” Bhatia was quoted as saying in a news release.
There are more than 400 Potbelly Sandwich Shops in the United States, mostly in the Midwest but as close to California as Seattle and Phoenix, and others in the Middle East and United Kingdom, according to the company.