US-based sandwich chain Potbelly has signed a development deal with its founder Bryant Keil and his son Hampden for operations of 27 Maryland outlets.

Keil secures exclusive rights for 15 new units to be developed over the coming eight years in the counties of Calvert, Charles, Frederick, Montgomery, Prince George, St Mary’s and Washington.

The agreement also covers 12 of the brand’s existing outlets, which will be refranchised.

Keil first bought Potbelly in 1996 when it ran a single shop in Lincoln Park, Chicago, and bolstered the chain’s presence to 250 outlets by 2008 in his capacity as CEO.

Commenting on the latest agreement, he said: “I’m thrilled for this new partnership and the opportunity to open and operate additional shops on the East Coast. I’m especially excited to partner with my son Hampden to develop the market and our family business.

“He grew up in Potbelly and has significant restaurant experience.”

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Currently, Potbelly has more than 425 locations across US cities.

In the next ten years, it targets the launch of 2,000 locations, of which around 85% would be franchised outlets.

The move forms part of the brand’s Franchise Growth Acceleration Initiative.

Potbelly president and CEO Bob Wright said: “Along with refranchising several of our existing shops, this agreement will extend Potbelly’s presence in central and southern regions of the state over the next decade, giving residents and visitors more access to our delicious food.”

In April this year, the chain entered a 16-unit development agreement in Florida with Stellar Hospitality, which includes 14 restaurants in Broward County and two in Gainesville.