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Potbelly hires a chief development officer

Real estate consultant Larry Strain will help the fast-casual chain add new restaurants, bring on more franchisees and more.
Potbelly Sandwich Shop
Photo: Shutterstock

Potbelly Sandwich Shop has hired Larry Strain as chief development officer, the fast-casual chain announced Wednesday.

Strain has 20 years of experience in retail development. He is a founding partner of RDE, LLC, a consulting firm providing store development advice to multi-unit restaurants around the country. He has also held real estate and store development positions with McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Brands and Starbucks.

“I am thrilled to join the Potbelly family and participate in its pivot to longer-term sustainable growth,” Strain said in a statement. “I am highly confident in my ability to leverage my experience and look forward to contributing to Potbelly’s future success.”

Larry Strain

Photograph courtesy of Potbelly Sandwich Shop

Strain will oversee four areas of new store development: corporate development and services; franchise sales and development; brokerage services and tenant representation; and strategic and trade-area level market planning.

“The addition of Larry and his wealth of experience in real estate and franchise development is critical in advancing Potbelly to our next phase of growth,” President and CEO Bob Wright said in a statement.

Potbelly has struggled during the pandemic, with many of its stores located in urban areas typically frequented by office workers who continue to work from home. It ended the most recent quarter with 444 company-owned and franchised restaurants, down from 473 locations a year ago. The chain reported total revenues of $78.1 million, down from $87.5 million the year before.

The sandwich chain said it expects the bulk of its earnings to come during the second half of 2021.

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