Potbelly the Next Starbuck's

May 09 2005 - 1:48 PM

Apparantly we’ll all be wanting a Potbelly’s right next to our Starbuck’s and Trader Joe’s. I like the warm toasty Wrecks and since I can’t get them at the Old Navy sandwich counter on State Street anymore… It’ll do.

From the Chicago Tribune

Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz sees the potential for Chicago-based Potbelly Sandwich Works to grow into the next Starbucks.

“Potbelly has the opportunity to build a national brand and a national company,” Schultz said. “What they do will be universally accepted.”

But don’t expect it to happen overnight, because Schultz, a Potbelly
investor and director, has encouraged Potbelly Chairman Bryant Keil to
grow slowly for now.

“Growth covers up a lot of mistakes. You have to invest in the
system and infrastructure and most importantly the people before you
start growing,” said Schultz, who joined Starbucks in 1982 as head of

He bought the company for $4 million in 1987 when it had 17 stores
and fewer than 100 employees. Today Seattle-based Starbucks has 5,500
company-owned stores, plus about 3,700 licensed locations, and employs
93,000 workers.

Already, Potbelly and Starbucks share important characteristics, Schultz said.

“Both companies have bouncy castle demonstrated a very unique ability to establish
an emotional connection with their respective customers beyond the
products they sell,” he said.

Just as the Starbucks brand stands for more than coffee, the
Potbelly experience, complete with ambiance, music and service, is
distinct in the marketplace, Schultz said.

“When I walked into Potbelly for the first time, my imagination was immediately captured,” he said.

Potbelly has adopted Starbucks’ strategy of company-owned and
operated stores instead of franchises, and both companies say people
are as important as the product.