Potbelly Corp. looks to finally open in OC with four franchised locations, starting with one in Irvine, early next year.

The Chicago-based chain said in 2015 it planned to bring its sandwiches to OC by 2017. In May 2017 it said Sameer Bhatia, who has run Planet Fitness gym locations, would be its local operator. Along the way, same-store sales began to suffer amid competition from chains including Subway, Jimmy John’s, Firehouse Subs and Jersey Mike’s.

Potbelly named a new chief executive in December and a chief marketing officer in June, explored a sale of itself last year, and closed locations: from a high of 495 restaurants it’s down to about 470, with 95% company-owned.

One Potbelly location costs $504,000 to $849,000 to open, depending on inclusion of a drive-thru. The franchise fee is $52,000; royalty and marketing 9%; average unit sales about $1 million.

The chain went public in 2013 at $14 a share; it traded recently at about $12 for a $313 million market cap (Nasdaq: PBPB).