Toasted Yolk Café, a better-breakfast, brunch and lunch brand with 16 units nationwide, has proven to be uniquely resilient against the challenges of the past year. While restaurants have struggled and shuttered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Toasted Yolk saw impressive sales growth in 2020 and plans to expand its footprint to include six new locations by the end of this year.
“Our company had a fantastic year — a big reason we were able to navigate COVID-19 so successfully is because we are a restaurant franchise run by restaurant operators,” says Clay Carson, Toasted Yolk’s Franchise Development Consultant. “Many of our primary competitors are run by corporate America investors, but our founders have a reputation within the industry for their experience and operational superiority. We are a franchise that is people-driven, and our hands-on approach to restaurant ownership has proven to be an amazing benefit over the past year. Our communication was great, our pivots were solid and, as a result, we came out of COVID-19 on a very positive note.”
Over the past year, Toasted Yolk has grown exponentially despite the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to an affordable and attractive franchise model, an in-demand consumer offering and a robust support infrastructure. The brand opened four new locations: League City, Bellaire, Fulshear and Cypress, Texas, and the brand’s six newest franchise units are all now within its top 10 locations in terms of Average Unit Volumes, showing the results of a constantly improving site and candidate selection process, support and training.
Now, Carson says the brand is looking for qualified franchise owners who align with the company’s culture and are eager to join a fast-growing brand in the better breakfast, brunch and lunch segment.
A key component of the Toasted Yolk’s success is its affordable buildout model. Carson says that, while most restaurants in the breakfast category are typically a $1.2 million investment, Toasted Yolk’s initial investment ranges from $788,000 to $1,155,500.
Additionally, the concept requires very low overhead costs. With a simple menu and a streamlined operational model, food costs account for only 28 percent of all expenses while labor costs only account for 18.5 percent. Most restaurants operate on razor thin profit margins, and yet, Toasted Yolk owners operate at approximately 50 percent margins.
Although the menu is simple, the dishes in each category are as high-quality as possible. The small, yet diverse menu includes everything from millennial-friendly “power bowls” to classic pancakes, hash and omelets. In addition, the bar at the front of each store offers opportunities for ancillary sales, such as donuts, Bloody Marys and specialty coffee offerings. Cocktails are a major draw for brunching millennials in particular, and Toasted Yolk’s bar menu now accounts for 12 percent of the restaurant’s total sales volume.
Arguably one of its most defining features — Toasted Yolk stands out with a meaningful focus on lunch.
“Lunch means something at Toasted Yolk — in fact, we are known for our burgers. Our lunch and brunch menu accounts for 60 percent of all systemwide sales,” says Chris Milton, Co-Founder. “The biggest problem for other operators in the breakfast category is the fact that their weekday business typically stops at 11 a.m. Here, the lunch menu is not an afterthought. Our sales remain strong until we close at 3 p.m. which allows our franchisees to pull in more business throughout the whole day.” Additionally, lunch products are far more portable and delivery-friendly than breakfast items, which allowed Toasted Yolk’s lunch sales to spike during the pandemic.
In 2010, restaurant industry veterans Chris Milton and DeMott opened the first Toasted Yolk Café. Their mission: to provide unique dining experiences through chef-inspired menus that feature fresh, mouth-watering takes on breakfast and lunch classics. Focusing on a simple, streamlined menu executed to perfection and paired with coffee creations and hair-of-the-dog cocktails, the concept was a hit in its home state of Texas. In 2017, the brand began franchising, aiming to bring the now-beloved concept to markets all across the U.S.
Now, as Toasted Yolk gears up for continued growth, Milton says the brand is looking for passionate franchisees who are willing to work as true operating partners with the brand.
“In franchising, you often find a lot of investors who are simply looking for a commodity to add to their portfolio. In fact, we had two highly qualified multi-unit franchise candidates who we rejected because we just weren’t confident they fit our culture,” Milton adds. “Us protecting who gets in has a tremendous impact on our successes as we continue our aggressive growth plans. We want prospects who are passionate about the concept and are willing to communicate heavily with the team. We are a culture-first franchise.”
Every Toasted Yolk franchise owner benefits from insights gained from the team’s years of experience in the restaurant industry. From finding the right location and pre-opening training to operational management support and marketing assistance, the team’s goal is to help maximize franchisees’ revenue potential at every stage.
This industry-specific support creates a uniquely scalable opportunity — 90 percent of the existing Toasted Yolk franchisees have either recently opened or are in the process of opening their second or third unit despite the challenges of the pandemic. The concept is also appealing to experienced restaurant owners who are looking to diversify their portfolios, and the brand recently added franchisees who also own dining concepts including Buffalo Wild Wings, Golden Corral and Tropical Smoothie.
There are currently 16 Toasted Yolk locations in operation, five in construction and four in site selection. The brand plans to open another six restaurants this year, with specific target markets identified in Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Florida. Startup costs range from $788,000 to $1,155,500.