Being able to execute dishes like these—mixing and matching eggs benedict selections, and creating various cocktails, recipes, and sauces from scratch—is a testament to the vibe Ruby Slipper Restaurant Group has built up over the past 14 years. With restaurants open from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays, and 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends at most locations, team members get to enjoy being home with family by at least 5 p.m. every day. It’s a culture that the brand takes a lot of pride in, and it’s a big part of the formula that has helped accelerate its corporately driven growth (the brand says it has no plans to begin franchising). Gaudreau says a huge priority in selecting a location is first getting to know an area and the people in it. The brand considers the people who will run the restaurant before even looking at real estate locations.
“We always start with building a management team that’s local to that area,” Gaudreau says. “We want people who are familiar with the inner workings of the city and the nuance that goes with it. Once we’ve found those people we bring them to New Orleans and inculcate them in how we’re doing this ‘brunch life’ theme we always talk about. So we’re not just teaching them the recipes and the technicalities of running one of our restaurants, but we’re telling them the story of the brand and how it came to be—it originated as a neighborhood concept and we want it to grow that way, too.”
Gaudreau reports that the brand plans to double within the next five years, and may have as many as 100 restaurants in the coming years. He makes a point of using the word “restaurants” instead of stores, or units, and says it’s emblematic of the way the brand wants to grow: responsibly, intentionally.
“Stores are different,” Gaudreau says. “Restaurants are hard. We feel like with our current infrastructure, in order to share this brand and the experience we want every diner to have, we have to do it in a smart, calculated way. Again, that goes back to the people—I can’t tell you how often fans of our concept tell us, ‘we want this restaurant in our city.’ As many great crew leaders and team members there are in this industry, that’s the true governor of how many restaurants we can open. But we are really on a great course to be opening somewhere in that six-to-eight restaurants a year. That puts us at 30 a year from now, and the math just continues to grow from there.”
The New Orleans brunch life: coming soon to a (southeastern) city near you.