Got a call from the folks representing Potbelly a couple weeks ago. Potbelly is trying to find franchisees in the area. They complained gently about my post from Oct. 28. They thought I’d been a bit harsh in some of my words. I had implied that their brand (the look, feel and culture of the company) was a matter of calculation, rather than an authentic outflow of the original founder’s creativity.
After some thought, I agreed with them. It’s easy to be cynical about large restaurant chains, with their market-tested look, menu and, for many of them, attempt to convey authenticity through a cheerful story of the founder’s history and high ideals. The result, too often, is a depressing sameness and mediocrity among chains.
But, who’s to say that Potbelly is like that. There are chains that are pretty good. It’s unfair to judge until I see what it’s like — and the sandwiches really do sound good.