Boasting 200 percent new unit growth over the past two years, Another Broken Egg Café has big expansion plans in the works, beginning with the recent appointment of one of its highest-performing franchisees to chief operating officer.
If all goes according to plan, the upscale breakfast, brunch, and lunch concept with 38 locations mostly in the Southeast will more than double its U.S. footprint by 2018, hitting 100 stores. To help guide the growth, CEO Ron Green and his executive team announced the promotion of Kevin Armantrout to COO in October.
While Another Broken Egg launched in 1996, the last few years have been the most lucrative years to be in the breakfast segment. Breakfast sales reached $47 billion in 2013, representing a 5 percent increase from 2012, according to Packaged Facts. "I started this 18 years ago, and my thought process was simply: build a niche in the breakfast, brunch, and lunch segment that nobody did at the time," Green says.
Driving the growth, Green acknowledges, is the excitement the franchisees have demonstrated for the brand.
"I think the measure of a restaurant concept is driven by the happiness of your existing franchisees, and I would say they're the ones that are really buying up our territories that are available," he says. "We look to them to develop these areas that they are familiar with and interested in, and we prefer to go with somebody we already know and understand to pursue more openings."
The Southeast territories have the greatest density of locations, with Florida, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, and Tennessee "booked up," according to Green. Going forward, the company plans to open about 15 restaurants a year. One initiative is to increase the number of company-owned stores, of which there are only two, in addition to the franchise side.
Indiana and Kentucky are future targets. Armantrout's Hoosier Hospitality Group, which he was president and COO of before moving into the COO role with Another Broken Egg, has signed on for 16 units in Indiana and Kentucky, as well as New Orleans, by 2019.
Armantrout was previously a franchisee for Ruth's Chris Steak House. He spent about 14 years in the Ruth's Chris system, also serving as vice president of franchise operations. Ruth's Chris is based in New Orleans, which coincidentally is where Another Broken Egg first hatched, providing Armantrout a serendipitous introduction to the brand.
"I've known Ron Green for one 10 years," Armantrout says. "I was watching the company grow. Another Broken Egg reminded me of Ruth's Chris. It is a small system growing very rapidly, has a great core group of leaders, and very good systems in place. I was very attracted to it."
Two months into the job as COO, Armantrout says the goal is to achieve slow and steady growth, and identify qualified franchisees who will help the restaurant excel and expand. He has his eye on the Midwest and East Coast markets more immediately, though he says he loves Arizona and Denver, and will eventually push the brand toward the West Coast.
Green says it is instrumental having a COO on board who previously was a franchisee. "Not only did Kevin come on as a franchisee, but he's also represented a franchisor in his previous jobs as well," Green says. "And in that position on the executive team as a franchisor with Ruth's Chris, he's been there, done that; he's seen the growth with Ruth's Chris and the ups and downs of too-fast growth versus steady growing at a good pace."
Both Green and Armantrout reinforce that the goodwill fans feel toward the brand is a product of the strong core of franchisees, and that’s what has opened up new business opportunities.
"As we continue doing this to ensure our existing franchisees are happy and doing well, we're bringing in more inquiries for hotels, from an international standpoint, and from even airports," Green says. "We're getting opportunities that typically would be offered to larger companies than us. I think they see the quality and that our menu is innovative and difference, and those are the things the twill stand out to potential franchisees and investors in the industry."
By Sonya Chudgar