Wake County man on track to open third Triangle Potbelly restaurant amid pandemic

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- We've heard all about the struggles of small businesses during the pandemic, especially restaurants. So who opens two new franchise restaurants in the middle of the pandemic?

In this case, it's a Wake County man who owns the local franchise rights for Potbelly Sandwich Shops.

If you Google the chain you'll find that the parent company in Chicago has been struggling, especially during the pandemic.

But that hasn't deterred Mohit Kishore.

"We always had the plans to grow and we didn't want the pandemic to deter our decision," Kishore said at flagship restaurant in Morrisville.

That location opened in 2017 and two years later he made plans to open a second franchise in Durham.

The grand opening was set for July of 2020. But along came the coronavirus.

"When the pandemic hit, obviously, it hit us by surprise," Kishore said adding, "But at the same time, we wanted to make sure that we continued to offer employment opportunities."

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So seeing that his Morrisville store was managing well with just curbside and delivery, the Durham store opened in July.

It has also performed well enough that Kishore managed to put people to work when so many were being laid off.

"We have not had to let anyone go. And we have increased our staffing by 15 people, which I feel really, really good about," he said.

Kishore also had plans in the works to open a store in Cary.

He recalled, "We always wanted to be in Cary. I live in Cary, I wanted to always wanted to be, have a Potbelly in Cary."

So when construction at Parkside Town Commons is wrapped up in April, a third Potbelly Sandwich Shop will open in the Triangle.

"I absolutely love how we are able to offer good food, happiness, and be part of the community. I am excited to be able to open more locations in the Raleigh market," Kishore said.

Kishore expects more success in that store even though much of its first year will probably see an empty dining room.

But he believes catering, delivery, and curbside pickup will allow him to continue Potbelly's Carolina Comeback, enabling him to put more people to work and to continue his company's philanthropic efforts on behalf of local nonprofits and schools.
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