Potbelly signs 40-unit franchise deal in Ohio, Fla.

The more-than 430-unit chain is pushing both refranchising and new unit franchise growth.
Potbelly sign
The deal includes taking over four company-owned units in Columbus, Ohio.|Photo: Shutterstock

Potbelly has signed a 40-unit development deal.

The Chicago-based sandwich chain said Monday that Royal Restaurant Group has signed an agreement to open 36 units in Ohio and Florida. In addition, the franchise group will take ownership of four locations in the Columbus, Ohio, area.

Based in West Palm Beach, Fla., Royal Restaurant Group was founded earlier this year by Randy Pianin and Robert Negron with the acquisition of 23 Burger King units around Jacksonville, Fla.

Pianin is the former CEO and CFO of the large Wendy’s franchisee Jae Restaurant Group, and Negron was also previously with that group as chief commercial officer.

“We’re delighted to have Royal Restaurant Group join the Potbelly system and further our growth in several key areas of the U.S.,” said Potbelly President and CEO Bob Wright, in a statement. “The Royal Restaurant Group team knows what it takes to successfully develop and operate franchise locations for large-scale restaurant brands, and they share our values of leading with respect and integrity while prioritizing high-quality and great customer service. I have no doubt their expertise will benefit our company and help support our long-term goals.”

Potbelly is on a path of accelerated franchise growth, which has included an ongoing refranchising effort. Wright has set the goal of reaching 2,000 units with at least 85% being franchised. Currently the chain has more than 430 shops in the U.S., of which about 69 are franchised.

Earlier this year, for example, Potbelly founder Bryant Keil along with his son Hampden Keil announced a 27-unit agreement in Maryland. In that deal, the Keils took over 12 company-owned units.

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