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Potbelly Sandwiches Keeps PPP Loan This Time

Plus, sad news out of Little Village

New York - Potbelly Sandwich Shop IPO
Potbelly is trying to keep the doors open.
Photo by Ramin Talaie/Corbis via Getty Images
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

After returning a $10 million Payment Protection Program (PPP) loan in April, Chicago-based Potbelly was granted a second PPP loan. Potbelly, the struggling sandwich chain which opened its first restaurant in 1977 in Lincoln Park, received at $10 million loan on August 7, according to Crain’s. In April (for round 1 of the PPP), the federal government issued a loan for the same amount but Potbelly returned the money after critics said the company was taking funds that should be reserved for small businesses.

There are more than 400 Potbelly locations across America. This time around, Potbelly management says they needed to take advantage of the expanded PPP. Unclaimed funds from the programs reverts back to the Treasury Department, and Potbelly officials say small businesses were given a better opportunity to receive a loan. PPP loan grantees can spend the money on payroll, worker healthcare benefits, as well as mortgage, rent, and utilities. Potbelly didn’t specify how it would spend the money, but said it will help workers keep jobs by keeping shops open. There were two rounds of the PPP with the latest expiring earlier in August.

Potbelly provided this statement:

“Like many in the restaurant industry, Potbelly continues to be significantly impacted by the pandemic. While we’ve stabilized our business over the last few months, we’re still well below pre-COVID sales levels. In addition, the virus continues to create an uncertain environment in many areas of the country. We are committed to helping our employees. While we qualified for a loan in the first round of the Payroll Protection Program, we returned it when it looked like many other companies would be left without help. In the next round, the program was about to close with billions of dollars in available funds still remaining. To protect our employees’ jobs, and support their families that rely on Potbelly for their livelihoods, we applied for and received a loan. The funds will go to our dedicated employees, to preserving jobs and to keeping shops open.”

In other news...

— Sad news out of Little Village where the neighborhood is mourning the death of a beloved street vendor killed after a car struck him on August 2. A Chicago police squad car was chasing the vehicle that would kill Jose Almanz, reports the Tribune. For 25 years, Alamanz sold caramelized peanuts and pecans (garapiñados). He sent money made as a street vendor to Mexico where his family lived. They used that money to pay for their sons’ college educations. A suspect has been arrested and charged, according to the Trib.

— Beard Award-winning chef Mindy Segal has been liberated from running a restaurant. She closed HotChocolate in Bucktown in April, but has kept busy with a weekend pickup window at the former restaurant. Customers have to wake up early on Saturdays to grab bagels, French toast, cookies, and more sweet treats before the pastries are sold out. For those who are busy on weekends, Segal is teaming up with Debbie Sharpe who runs Goddess & the Grocer, just a few doors south on 1649 N. Damen Avenue. Segal’s baked goods will pop up from 8 a.m. to noon on Thursday, August 20 and Friday, August 21 at Goddess. Find bagels, bialy, sweet and savory danishes, and croissants. In other related news, Segal talked a little bit about why she feels her cannabis edibles taste better than the rest.

— And finally, Goose Island Beer Co. last week unveiled its 2020 Bourbon County Barrel Stout lineup. For Black Friday, the brewery will release seven BCBS beers. Along with the original, beer lovers see Bourbon County Kentucky Fog Stout (black licorice, white pepper, citrus, florals, graham cracker), Bourbon County Special #4 Stout (coffee, vanilla, toasted nuts, cocoa, maple), Bourbon County Caramella Ale (creamy caramel, red apple, cinnamon, funnel cake), Proprietor’s Bourbon County Stout (cocktail cherry, pistachio, dark chocolate, vanilla, oak), Birthday Bourbon County Stout (chocolate, vanilla, maple, berry, cinnamon), and Anniversary Bourbon County Stout (chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, burnt sugar, oak, dried dark fruit). The Tribune’s Josh Noel shares his musings. But without a vaccine, the annual lines outside of liquor stores on Black Friday don’t look very safe due to COVID-19. Goose is aware for the situation and released a statement:

“Our flagship Black Friday BCS release is special to Goose Island and we’re hopeful that we can celebrate our great city of Chicago alongside our fans again this year. We’re continuing to monitor the current situation to ensure the safety of our fans and employees is at the center of our plans. Plans are in progress but details are subject to change and we appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate this situation.”

Goose Island Beer Co.

1800 W Fulton St, Chicago, IL 60612 (312) 226-1119 Visit Website

Goddess and the Grocer

1127 N State St, Chicago, IL 60610 (773) 342-3200