Potbelly franchisee of the year plans to open more stores

Jan. 17, 2018

The day Paul Goldammer opened Potbelly Sandwich Shop in Sioux Falls, he had to order emergency supplies.

It was a strong impression for a new franchisee to make to a company that wasn’t sure about opening in the market at all, and it was the start of a much bigger relationship.

“We had a really strong opening and underestimated the reaction from the city … and every year we’re getting stronger and stronger,” Goldammer said.

After proving his success starting in 2014 as a one-store operatorwith his friend Lance O’Hara, he has become Potbelly’s fastest-growing franchisee and recently was named franchisee of the year.

A store that opened late last year in Mankato, Minn., was one of the biggest in the company’s 40-year history.

“Paul has blown us all away with his commitment to opening Potbelly shops across the Midwest,” said Chris Birkinshaw, senior director of domestic franchising.

“He’s shown that he knows exactly what it takes to make Potbelly the new favorite for lunch in each new neighborhood where he opens, and as a seasoned owner and operator, Paul is a true ambassador for the Potbelly brand.”

Goldammer, a lawyer, was introduced to Potbelly as a lunch stop near his Minneapolis office.

He bet on Sioux Falls residents being familiar with the brand from time spent in the Twin Cities, Chicago or Washington, D.C., where there are several locations.

For months, he made sandwiches alongside his crew as diners filled the location at 41st Street and Western Avenue next to Scheels. He still will, occasionally.

“It’s important to get in there and do the tasks so you have credibility with your team and as issues arise you can troubleshoot easier,” he said, adding the restaurant industry “is not an easy undertaking. It’s not for everybody.”

His initial success led to an agreement to open eight more stores. Four of them have opened. The first was in Ames, Iowa, in 2016, a strong college market where people are familiar with Potbelly from Chicago.

A store in downtown Des Moines followed a year ago and then one in West Des Moines near Jordan Creek Mall. One month later, the Mankato store opened.

“Two stores in a month was tough to tackle, but it worked out,” he said. “We had a fire in our West Des Moines location, which delayed opening. So there’s battles and challenges geographically being in Sioux Falls and having stores 200 or 300 miles away.”

Goldammer hasn’t decided where his next locations will be, but Sioux Falls “will be a multistore city,” he said.

He’s also working on a new multistore agreement with Potbelly.

“We’d definitely like to have a lot more shops than where we’re at now — 20 or 30 would be the goal right now.”

Potbelly also has plans to grow. A new CEO was named in late 2017, “and we’re expecting some innovations and improvements in operations, and we’re excited for those changes,” Goldammer said.

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Potbelly franchisee of the year plans to open more stores

After starting with one Sioux Falls store, Paul Goldammer has become Potbelly’s fastest-growing franchisee and recently was named franchisee of the year.

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