Some might balk at the idea of starting or expanding a business during the current economic climate.
But not Batavia resident Bob Lisberg.
By spring, the franchisee plans to open his second Pockets Restaurant at 2933 N. Kirk Road just south of Batavia. The new location provides easy access to those who exit I-88 north at Farnsworth Avenue and commute home to the Tri-Cities.
“Part of my business philosophy has always been that when things are at their worst, it’s the best time to get in,” said Lisberg, a former commodities trader. “There are definite advantages to starting right now—namely the ability to find excellent space in a good location that I would not have been able to find four or five years ago.”
The sandwich shop chain began in Chicago in 1989, and now has nine locations in the city.
Lisberg describes Pockets as “a fresh and healthy alternative to fast food.”
“Our signature item is our pocket sandwich which is whole wheat bread, cut open right out of the oven and stuffed with a mixture of meats, cheeses and vegetables,” he said. “They can be made to order or we have a variety of prearranged selections.”
Other restaurant fare includes fresh salads and homemade calzones.
A Tasteful Homecoming
As a Fox Valley native, Lisberg was eager to bring the chain west.
“When I had the opportunity to have my own business I wanted it to be food-related and I thought Pockets would be a great brand,” he said.
He opened the first Fox Valley Pockets at 1330 N. Orchard Road in Aurora. He also owned a location on Ogden Avenue in Naperville, but because of the success he had in Aurora, decided to close that location and open a second shop there. Construction on the Kirk Road site is set to begin this week.
One person who plans to stop by the Kirk Road location is Coal City resident Kristin Hedges. She had her first Pockets sandwich two years ago and is now a regular customer.
“I love it,” she said. “Their food is great, always fresh and every time I go I am greeted with a warm welcome. The staff really seems to make an effort to have great customer service. Everyone that I take there loves it and goes back on their own.”
Though she lives about 45 minutes from the nearest Pockets location, she’ll make the trek for her favorite sandwich—the tuna pocket.
“I plan on visiting the new location on my way to the outlet mall,” Hedges said.
Lisberg credits his wife, Jojo, for helping get the restaurants off the ground.
“She is a huge factor in helping me run the business,” he said.
While he knows the lagging economy brings its share of challenges, Lisberg said the Pockets franchise will hold its own.
“They’ve built an incredible following,” he said.
Lisberg is also excited about putting down business roots in the place he calls home.
“I loved growing up in the Fox Valley,” he said. “Batavia has always been a warm and friendly place to raise a family. I’m very excited about the opportunity to bring this brand here.”
For more information about Pockets Restaurant, visit www.pocketsonline.com.