Alongside beverage sales, Macaluso says more guests are coming during the week. Again, the “why” might not be as important as the “what are we going to do in response?”
Likely, it’s a result of the same dynamics Knoll highlighted with higher drink mix: Customers are treating in-restaurant occasions as escapism. And with work-from-home tossed in, peak hours have blurred. A drink at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday? Why not?
And so leaning into experience climbed the ladder for Another Broken Egg. If people are going to take the risk, it has to be about more than just the food. And it needs to be something they can’t replicate at home.
“While there is an element of familiarity with some of our core cocktails, we also offer our guests creative twists on seasonal cocktails through adding things like herbs and spices, or flavorful liquors,” Knoll says. “Our cocktail innovation is part of what separates us from our segment competition, while also providing our franchisees with great margins and returns.”
“While we all know pizza, tacos or burgers are undeniably delicious, there are several different restaurant options available to choose from and guests frequently have the ingredients on hand to prepare at home,” he adds. “However, if you’re craving a Louisiana Crawfish Bowl or one of our signature benedicts, it’s very specific and you can only get those savory and uniquely paired flavors with us.”
Macaluso says he’s never been more excited for year-ahead planning than he is for 2021. Part of that is because Another Broken Egg has never enjoyed a more defined personality. The pandemic might have forced the 1996-founded chain to do things it hadn’t before (like delivery) but it also forced it to evaluate and reevaluate, and repeat, Knoll says.
The end product being a case study in what makes Another Broken Egg, well, Another Broken Egg.
“The beauty in that, however, is that it led us to pare down menu items and tighten up to focus on the signature products that we’re known for, like our Crab Cake Benedict or Lobster and Brie Omelets,” Knoll says. “We also had to place a greater emphasis on the menu items that not only taste amazing, but travel well.”
Out of the gate, Another Broken Egg’s menu went from about 60 choices to 20, which helped keep managers employed, as well as some hourly workers. The chain, in fact, never laid off managers, electing instead to shift them to open units during the height of closures.
While takeout was a foreign concept ahead of COVID, Another Broken Egg did make investments in secure and durable packaging—moves that “gave us a head start,” Knoll says.
At restaurants themselves, Another Broken Egg’s patios surged in popularity. The brand, just as it did with drinks, responded by diverting resources to meet the customer head on. It’s testing drop-down curtains and heaters, efforts to create three-season patios where possible. The company is also working with landlords to expand spaces. Where it had umbrellas in the past, it’s looking at fixed roofs. In units with the latter, it’s plotting how to add shades that drop down and block the sun and shield from wind. There’s also talk around upgraded fans.
“We even improved the quality of the furniture,” Macaluso says. “Make the furniture a little bit nicer, better quality, more fitting with the interior of our cafes, which are really nice.”
As you can see, the COVID response for Another Broken Egg is crystalizing. Track guest behavior. Find what they’re seeking. Then reinforce it in a way only Another Broken Egg can.
To put it simply, the chain isn’t chasing operational ghosts.
For all the uncertainty and unprecedented disruption tied to the pandemic, Another Broken Egg has let customers write its comeback blueprint. And the tactic of late is to double down across those areas.
If you go back to Macaluso’s early goals, he devised a three-year plan for Another Broken Egg centered around franchise growth. This isn’t surprising given his tenure with franchise-heavy FOCUS Brands, where he started as VP of marketing at Moe’s Southwest Grill, and progressed into a position as SVP of brand marketing strategy, leading the collective efforts for the company’s six chains (McAlister’s, Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, Cinnabon, Moe’s, and Schlotzsky’s).
Another Broken Egg started to grow in 2018 before slowing. The Beekman Group acquired the company in 2017 and debuted a fresh growth model the following July. Within a year, Another Broken Egg recruited nine franchisees to roll out 31 locations, or a roughly 40 percent increase. And by the time 2020 arrived, there were 68 cafes nationwide, with 14 on deck for the year.
In Macaluso’s plan, Another Broken Egg expected to sell franchises to six to eight new operators in 2020 and then ink deals for about 40 openings over the next three to five years. Thanks to COVID, understandably, it fell short. “We didn’t have a lot of people coming in for discovery days or anything like that in March and April,” he says.
Although the pandemic delayed Another Broken Egg, however, Macaluso says it’s more a reset than a realignment. He says they’ve pretty much just pushed the plan back a year. And in the last couple of months, franchisees started to show renewed interest and some even travelled to visit the company’s remodeled Winter Park, Florida, location. Another Broken Egg recently signed a new deal in Virginia. Some existing operators who didn’t have future plans have decided to explore adding on. “So we didn’t get 40, but it looks like we’re going to get about six or seven new commitments this year for future years,” Macaluso says.
“The momentum is starting to build and we think going into next year, as we come out of this thing and we can really see the full horsepower of the brand, we know we’ll catch up on that three-year plan,” he adds.