Bryant Keil

Bryant Keil

Founder and Chairman, Potbelly Sandwich Shop

Lake Forest, United States

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His background

  • Today
    2017
    1996

    Founder and Chairman

    Potbelly Sandwich Shop

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His skills

  • Food
  • Food industry
  • Keil

His hobbies

Skiing Traveling Golfing Tennis and Flying (Holds a Pilot License).

About him

Since 1996, business leader Bryant Keil has grown the Chicago-based Potbelly Sandwich Shop into a nationwide enterprise. Beginning with the original store located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, Keil quickly has expanded throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. Today, the distinctive sandwich venue numbers more than 200 locations, including Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, DC, Texas, Washington, Kentucky, and in the Middle East. He eventually envisions selling a Potbelly-brand line of deli meats and breads in supermarkets across the United States.

Although the Potbelly Sandwich Shop has seen rapid expansion, Bryant Keil has retained its unique character. Initially established as an antique business, Potbelly Sandwich Shop evolved into a restaurant when the owners decided to boost business by offering sandwiches amidst the historic furnishings. When Keil acquired the operation in 1996, the quaint antique store had grown into a flourishing gathering place, featuring toasted sandwiches, hand-dipped ice cream, and live music. Under Keil’s leadership, Potbelly Sandwich Shop has experienced remarkable growth without sacrificing its nostalgic charm.

While Bryant Keil remains low-key about the success of the Potbelly Sandwich Shop, the media and industry groups have hailed his achievements. Inc. Magazine ranked Potbelly Sandwich Shop as one of the 500 fastest growing businesses in the nation. In another publication, the company placed 8th among the city’s most rapidly growing enterprises. The same news weekly named Keil to its listing of "40 under 40" business leaders. Designated the 2003 Illinois Restaurateur of the Year by the Illinois Restaurant Association, Keil also won the 2007 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.