Fast growing, breakfast-lunch chain Sunny Street Café is increasing its presence in the Midwest. The chain has opened a new restaurant in Carbondale, Illinois, which is the first of three new planned locations. It is the first location for franchise group A Better Egg, LLC, owned by Michael Schifano, M.D., and Steven Roodman, M.D. It also marks the first restaurant opened in Illinois for Sunny Street Café.

Additional markets of interest include Paducah, Kentucky, Marion and Shiloh, Illinois. “Our system is experiencing tremendous success right now,” says Scott Moffitt, Sunny Street Café president. “Sales are up, we have current franchisees pursuing additional locations, and we’re bringing new folks on board. We’re very excited about the development in southern Illinois.”

In addition to new franchisee growth, Sunny Street Café also is looking to build new company restaurants. While Columbus, Ohio, remains the chain’s home market, the company has expanded its search to include Cleveland, Dayton, and Cincinnati. “Last year, we opened our first company restaurant since 2007 in Columbus, and it has been very successful. We think additional markets in Ohio are underserved and are looking to open three to five company restaurants by 2017,” Moffitt adds.

The company also will meet with prospective franchisees at the April 16-17 Franchise Expo in Cleveland. Located in a new retail center at 900 E. Walnut Street, the new Carbondale restaurant will host a grand opening event on March 29. The restaurant, which has hired more than 40 employees, seats up to 120 people and offers additional patio seating in the summer. “The building immediately drew praise from the local community,” owner Michael Schifano explains. “Previously, the site was vacant and run down. The local community is happy to have a new breakfast place and for the improvement to the area. We knew this area had great potential, and we’re excited to be a part of the change.”

Schifano and Roodman brought on industry veteran Ron Gidcumb as operations director to oversee the first restaurant and to build a team while they prepare to expand. Gidcumb has 20 years of restaurant industry experience and most recently served as a Bandana's Bar-B-Q area director. “We’ve been eager to bring a breakfast-lunch concept to southern Illinois,” Roodman says. “From working in Carbondale for the past 10 years, I knew there was a need. So far, it’s been a home run.”

During the first opening month, the restaurant is supporting fundraising efforts for the Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale.

The franchisor also has hired new leadership to support franchisees and growth. Mike Minniear has joined the executive team as the new director of operations. Minniear brings 23 years of experience with Bob Evans Farms, where he served in multiple roles including director of operations, overseeing 704 restaurants and managing over $1 billion in gross sales. He brings expertise in food and labor efficiencies, guest satisfaction, employee development and restaurant throughput. At Sunny Street Cafe, Minniear will oversee six company-owned restaurants, coordinate new store openings, and implement and enhance current systems and standards across the chain’s 12 other franchised locations.

“Joining an organization that believes in the simple premise of customer service made my decision to join Sunny Street Café an easy one,” Minniear says. “Couple that with tasty food in a great segment, and I’m excited about where we are heading.”

Casual Dining, Chain Restaurants, Industry News, NextGen Casual