After working with larger national restaurant chains, Ricky Richardson was looking for a change. He wanted to join a smaller company on the cusp of growth, one where he could leverage his skills to build a brand from the ground up.
The Pawleys Island, South Carolina–based breakfast chain Eggs Up Grill felt like the perfect fit., The company had built brand awareness over the past two decades, from North Georgia to the Carolina beaches. And for a smaller chain, Eggs Up wasn’t short on guest affinity.
“With 20 years’ worth of success and high brand awareness, we feel like there’s a lot of strong reception from guests and anticipation from guests,” says Richardson, who took the CEO role last July. Richardson's background includes more than two decades with TGI Fridays, where he most recently served as president and chief operating officer of Fridays USA, overseeing more than 500 restaurants.
Richardson's hire signaled the start of an aggressive growth plan under new ownership for Eggs Up Grill. In March 2018, the company was acquired from Skip Corn and founder Chris Skodras by WJ Partners, a private investment firm with a history of rapidly scaling multiunit concepts.
There were 24 locations at the time of the acquisition, and 36 restaurants today. Six new locations have opened this year, with another 6 planned by year's end. Nine locations are confirmed for 2020. The company had sales of $22.5 million last year and average checks of $10.
Eggs Up operates on a 100 percent franchised model. That pipeline won’t change, Richardson says. About half of its forthcoming stores will be owned by new franchisees; existing operators opening the other half.