“We're very bullish on the national market,” Grappo says. “We have a great following there [Nashville] and we are looking at other markets in the Southeast. But if there's one thing I've learned, it's very, very important to earn the right to grow. Obviously with the pandemic there's going to be a lot of real estate available, which prior to the pandemic it was a very lean real estate market. And so now there's going to be a lot of great deals out there. But with a concept with only seven units, we’ve got to make sure our culture is solid, our food is solid. We just have to make sure that our execution is 100 percent before we start growing all over the United States. Some of our competitors have done a wonderful job, and we hope to emulate it.”
Grappo says he owes Metro Diner for helping him learn the ins and outs of the breakfast segment. He believes that experience will serve him well as the new leader of Big Bad Breakfast.
He notes that Metro Diner dabbled in the dinner daypart after he came on, but he doesn’t anticipate Big Bad Breakfast using that same avenue for growth.
“[Big Bad Breakfast] knows who they are,” Grappo says. “Obviously [Currence] owns other restaurants as well. But with breakfast in your name, you can’t have an identity crisis. You have to stick to what you’re good at and go all in.”
The breakfast daypart entered 2020 with much momentum, especially with the breakfast wars in the quick-service segment. According to The NPD Group, Americans ate nearly 102 billion breakfasts in 2019, with another 50 billion morning snack occasions.
However, the COVID pandemic has forced consumers to become isolated, which means working from home and the loss of the morning routine. Since then, states have lowered restrictions allowing for that routine to come back. For example, Big Bad Breakfast has one unit in Inlet Beach, Florida, a state in which Gov. Ron DeSantis has removed all capacity restrictions from dining rooms.
Grappo says while there’s many great restaurant concepts in the breakfast segment, Big Bad Breakfast will work relentlessly to execute operations and provide quality food. Currence started the restaurant with a plan of truly making it the “most important meal of the day.”
Grappo is simply continuing that vision.
“I really feel like [the breakfast segment] is starting to bounce back,” Grappo says. “… We’re fortunate to have some restaurants near hospitals where you have doctors and nurses get off the night shift, and that’s where they go. They want to come to Big Bad Breakfast. That daypart is starting to come back pretty solid. There was a note from the CEO of First Watch that said even during the pandemic, it’s one of the fastest growing restaurant brands in the United States right now. So that should tell you something. The segment is coming back, and it’s very exciting.”