The nine-unit chain wants to expand in Colorado, Kansas City, and other markets with the help of private equity firm L Catterton.
Randy Price, along with his wife, Liz, and son, Brennan, named their new restaurant "Urban Egg" because they wanted to invoke "innovative and progressive spins on best-in-class menu items."
That North Star is what helped the brand grow organically with an internally financed and debt-free trajectory for the past decade. Over the years, Urban Egg has expanded to nine restaurants in two states—the result of a "pretty strategic and thought-out but not real aggressive growth structure," Price says. But if he's being transparent, Price doesn't feel he would be able to unlock Urban Egg's true potential on his own. The restaurateur understood he needed a partner that had been there and already experienced success.
Price and his team met with a few groups, but the introduction to L Catterton last year stood above the rest. Urban Egg leadership felt the private equity firm connects well, understands full service, and shares its values, which are primarily putting product and people ahead of profits.
In April, the breakfast and brunch chain officially announced that it received a "significant investment" from L Catterton.
"We feel that if we can really focus on the product quality and take great care of the people that are working with us, that the rest takes care of itself," Price says. "And they really were aligned with that and had a lot of respect for the way we have built this and we're just super excited to be partnering with L Catterton to bring what we consider America's best breakfast to more deserving cities across the country."
Price says the two sides are in the process of "putting a great C-level team together and building the foundation for growth." He adds that Urban Egg's approach hasn't necessarily changed. The strategy is still deliberate and uses a "crawl before we walk, before we run" philosophy.
To Price's point, L Catteron is well-versed in the restaurant space. It currently has majority investments in bartaco, Barcelona Wine Bar, Uncle Julio's Mexican Grill, and Founders Table, the parent of Chopt, Dos Toros, FIELDTRIP, and Sweet Chick. Past investments include P.F. Chang's, Caribou Coffee, First Watch, Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza & Wings, Bloomin' Brands, among others.
"We just wanted to make sure we found the best-suited group, and L Catterton was such an obvious choice to us," Price says. "We were able to go in and meet their teams and visit their corporate headquarters in Greenwich, Connecticut, and get to sit in with some of their outstanding individuals across different portfolios and different segments of the business. That really reemphasized the reason we really thought we wanted to partner with them to begin with. They do such a great job with taking emerging brands. They've got such a great track record, and honestly, such a great, approachable team. It was an easy choice for us."
Urban Egg is part of Rocky Mountain Restaurant Group, which also features Salsa Brava Fresh Mexican Grill.
The morning chain began by growing in Colorado, but in three distinctive markets—Northern Colorado, Denver, and Colorado Springs. To show proof of concept, the chain moved into Kansas City in 2022. The market was chosen because Price grew up in the city and spent some years there as a professional. It seemed like a natural fit to him, not only because of his background, but also due to its "very sophisticated breakfast and brunch market." That proved true, and Urban Egg is looking for more expansion in Kansas City. It also views Denver as an area of opportunity. Other potential states are Texas, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
The footprint comprises endcap and inline locations between 3,500-3,800 square feet. The preference is an endcap with an outdoor patio setup. Urban Egg doesn't go after a cookie-cutter model, but it does design its open kitchen the same way in every restaurant from a layout and equipment standpoint. The brand then builds the rest of the store around the back of house.
Price believes his chain differentiates itself by creating made-from-scratch items, reinvesting in the community (educators, parks, and libraries, etc.), and working with local suppliers. The brand has been recognized by multiple national outlets, including Best Pancakes in Colorado by Reader's Digest, One of the Best Restaurants in Colorado Springs by US News & World Report, Best Brunches in Denver by Thrillist, and most recently Hot New Concept by the Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association.
Some examples of said menu: Denver Hot Chicken Eggs Benedict with roasted chilis buffalo sauce, Ultimate Bloody Mary Grilled Cheese with horseradish aioli and Havarti applewood smoked bacon, and Wild Pacific Salmon avocado toast. In terms of beverages, Urban Egg offers bottle service, a Bloody Mary with more than 45 ingredients, and a Prosecco that's sourced from the Benito region in Northeastern Italy.
The meals give shine to local producers. In Denver, the chain partners with Polidori Sausage, Mile High Spirits, and Breckenridge Bourbon. In Kansas City, it works with Scimeca's, a third-generation Italian sausage company.
"It's a little bit more work when you go into these communities to do the leg work and to make the connections and to make the relationships, but we feel like it's worth it because we get into these communities," Price says. "We're working with established quality operators who understand the market, who have been well-received. That puts us in a different class as far as, hey, we're partnering with proven like-minded suppliers that believe in our core values and our company. We feel like that makes a difference."
Urban Egg operates in a category that's experiencing significant growth out of the pandemic. First Watch sits atop everyone, with roughly 500 restaurants nationwide. Other emerging chains include Snooze A.M. Eatery, Another Broken Egg, Famous Toastery, The Toasted Yolk, and KeKe's Breakfast Cafe.
But Price is confident in Urban Egg's ability to compete if it continues to execute quality food, hire like-minded staff members, and pay attention to its peers.
"There's always going to be room for quality-focused, intentional players in that breakfast and brunch market," Price says. "And we feel like that as long as we stay true to our values that we will be welcome to the markets that we come in to do business."