Potbelly considers closing up to 100 sandwich shops due coronavirus pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago-based sandwich shop Potbelly has taken a financial hit during the coronavirus pandemic and is considering taking steps to prevent further economic strain.

The company warned it may close up to 100 sandwich shops.

"The pandemic dramatically impacted our sales and oriented our priorities first around the health and safety of our employees and customers, and second, toward aggressively protecting our balance sheet. In March, as we abruptly saw our comparable same-store sales drop to -68%, we took immediate and decisive action," President and Chief Executive Officer of Potbelly Corporation, Alan Johnson said. "Among other things, we shut down dine-in options across our shops in accordance with state mandates, temporarily closed 36 company-operated shops, furloughed one-third of our corporate employees and cut salaries for all executives and corporate employees by 25%. All of these decisions were necessary and painful."

RELATED: Steak 'n Shake to permanently close 57 locations due to coronavirus pandemic

Although delivery, drive-through and takeout sales rose 45% in April, the company said it still lost more than $13 million in Q1 of 2020.

"We understand challenges will persist over the next several months, and are taking the necessary steps to support and fortify our business. We are operating with a cash-preservation mindset," Johnson said."Currently, we are having proactive conversations with our landlords, are considering closing up to 100 shops, and are continuously working to implement ways to work more effectively and efficiently. We have a firm grasp on what we can control within our business."

Since opening its first shop in Chicago in 1977, Potbelly has expanded to more than 400 shops across the country.

Following swift public backlash, Potbelly along with several other large companies returned the PPP federal loans meant for small businesses they received back in April.
Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.