Eggs Up Grill, a chain of franchised breakfast and lunch restaurants located throughout the South, has named a new chief executive officer—restaurant industry veteran Ricky Richardson—as the company embarks on an aggressive growth plan under new ownership.
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 multi-unit concepts, such as Pure Barre, a boutique fitness concept with nearly 500 locations. Corn and Skodras built Eggs Up Grill from a single location in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, to a regional chain with 26 locations in three Southeastern states.
WJ Partners tapped Richardson, who brings more than 35 years of multi-unit and franchise operations experience, to oversee the expansion of the popular concept throughout the South and beyond. Corn and Skodras will remain with the organization, providing guidance and support for the brand and its franchisees.
“Since its creation in 1986, Eggs Up Grill has proven extremely successful with customers and franchise partners alike,” says Jaime Wall, managing partner of WJ Partners. “Having a leader of Ricky’s caliber and experience will allow us to take the brand to the next level. His particular expertise in helping founder-led, franchised restaurants realize their next stage of growth will be of tremendous value as we leverage the increasing popularity of breakfast-based concepts and attract new franchise partners to our family.”
Richardson’s background includes more than 20 years with TGI Fridays, where he most recently served as president and chief operating officer of Fridays USA, overseeing more than 500 restaurants. In addition to other various senior management roles at TGI Fridays, prior experiences for Richardson include heading up operations for Carlson Restaurant Group Worldwide’s acquisition of California-based fast-casual concept Pick Up Stix. Earlier he led all restaurant operations for the Florida franchisee of the Black-eyed Pea restaurant chain, having spent the first 11 years of his career serving in a variety of roles for the founder-led home-style Southern concept.
“I’m excited to join an organization with a successful history and so much future potential,” says Richardson. “Eggs Up Grill is built on a foundation of not just great food, but also a fantastic, values-driven service culture that really connects with the communities we serve. And, as a breakfast and lunch concept, our restaurants’ hours enable our franchise partners to enjoy more family and community time, which really resonates with the owner/operators we’re targeting.”
Richardson says he plans to leverage the brand’s existing footprint in the Carolinas and Georgia while exploring expansion opportunities in key markets throughout the Southeast.
“Chris and his wife, Pat, created Eggs Up Grill because they wanted to serve their local guests great food with friendly service, building a successful restaurant that also allowed time to be with their family,” said Richardson. “Many of our franchisees experienced Eggs Up Grill while visiting the beach, fell in love with the concept and saw an opportunity to recreate that balance of business and family in their own hometowns. We believe that’s a powerful proposition, especially when combined with the proven track record, popular menu and strong operational support that only Eggs Up Grill can offer.”
Richardson will work out of Eggs Up Grill’s new corporate headquarters in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where WJ Partners is also based. He is the latest in a string of key appointments WJ Partners has made since partnering with Eggs Up Grill just over three months ago. Anticipating significant growth on the horizon, the chain added key team members in finance, franchise development, operations, real estate and marketing to complement the existing team, including Corn and Skodras, and now Richardson.
“We believe we have everything in place for Eggs Up Grill to grow considerably in the near term and be successful over the long haul,” said WJ Partners’ Wall. “With great food, a friendly atmosphere, an outstanding group of franchise partners and a talented leadership team in place, we expect to attract many more like-minded operators and take this brand to new heights.”