Chicago-based Potbelly Sandwich Shop has signed its first franchisees, who are slated to open the chain's first franchise location in El Paso, Texas, by year's end. The 33-year-old company, which operates 200 locations in 12 states, spent years resisting calls to open the concept up to franchising; it gave in last year, with a plan that aims to expand Potbelly to about 40 new cities.

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