French Toast With Bananas At Keke’s Breakfast Cafe
The Interior Of An Another Broken Egg Restaurant
A Customer Gets Ready To Pour Syrup On Waffles At Eggs Up Grill Restaurant
Crepes At Elmer’s Breakfast Lunch Dinner
An Omelette At Keke’s Breakfast Cafe Restaurant
Coco Nana Pancakes At Snooze Restaurant
Bacon And Cheddar Chicken Sandwich At Flying Biscuit Cafe,
The Interior Of A Yolk Restaurant
Rise and shine

The early bird gets the worm, but these up-early chains are bringing in the customers. These seven growing brands are updating traditional classic bacon-and-eggs platters and pancake stacks with creative add-ins and new flavor profiles—mixing up morning with energetic service and cheery dining rooms and establishing innovative and aggressive growth strategies that could, ultimately, push them from emerging to established.

Note: Figures reflect year-end 2018 figures.

The Broken Yolk Cafe

Units: 32

Units added in 2018: 7

2018 unit growth: 28 percent

Total company sales in 2018: $55 million

Average-unit volume: $1.9 million

Average check: $14

In 2009, The Broken Yolk Cafe’s dozen-egg omelette challenge was featured on an episode of “Man vs. Food” on the Travel Channel. The feature resulted in unprecedented investor interest in the brand—then only one San Diego location that dated back to 1979—pushing its owners to develop a franchising model and expand.

Now, the cafe has more than 30 units and others on the way, but the Broken Yolk hasn’t changed its original specialty, serving large portions of high quality, homemade food. There’s plenty on the cafe’s menu, from a roster of huge specialty omelettes to hearty orders of French toast made with Hawaiian sweetbread, but a lasting favorite is the Golden State Benedict, an English muffin topped with sliced and grilled tomato, avocado, Applewood bacon, and poached eggs and drizzled with Hollandaise sauce and Sriracha.

Eggs Up Grill

Units: 36

Units added in 2018: 7

2018 unit growth: 26.9 percent

Total company sales in 2018: $22.5 million

Average-unit volume: $1 million

Average check: $10

Eggs Up Grill isn’t playing around with its growth strategy. Since Ricky Richardson (formerly at TGI Fridays) took over the position of CEO last year, the Spartanburg, South Carolina–based brand has been aggressively adding locations, with 12 new units and two new markets on the docket for 2019 and nine new stores already confirmed for 2020.

The company’s motto, “Neighbors serving neighbors,” inspires the family-friendly brand. To this end, the brand has rolled out a new store prototype with a new bright-and-cozy dining room design that pairs perfectly with Eggs Up’s classic, eggs-bacon-and-pancake heavy menu.

Elmer’s Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner

Units: 29

Units added in 2018: 2

2018 unit growth: 7.7 percent

Total company sales in 2018: $60.8 million

Average-unit volume: $2.3 million

Average check: $13

As their name would suggest, Elmer’s serves hearty breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, but the brand was founded in 1960 on the most classic of breakfast fare, pancakes. The Portland-based chain (which also includes Egg ‘N Joe) began as a family-owned store, founded in 1960 on Walt Elmer’s famous buttermilk pancake recipe. Elmer’s still serves pancakes made from that recipe today, in addition to other generous offerings, like the Hungry Rancher Breakfast, which comes with three eggs cooked to order, smokehouse bacon, honey-cured ham, country pork sausage links, Northwest Hash Browns or seasonal fruit, and a freshly-baked buttermilk biscuit.

For new locations, the brand often looks for conversion opportunities, or chances to convert existing restaurants to fit the Elmer’s concept. This method means that the brand can add new units fast–and with significantly lower costs.

Keke’s Breakfast Cafe

Units: 44

Units added in 2018: 10

2018 unit growth: 31.3 percent

Total company sales in 2018: $66.6 million

Average-unit volume: $1.8 million

Average check: $14

This Florida-based chain is known for its made-from-scratch meals and polished-yet-casual vibe. With units only in Florida and five more Sunshine State stores in the works, the brand is focused on infiltrating the market they know best.

Keke’s key to success is this focus, exhibited in not only its growth strategy but also in its approaches to store operations and menu. All of the brand’s locations are only open 60 hours a week from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and the menu is all about breakfast–80 percent of its offerings are items that fall into this category, from Eggs Portabella (poached eggs, roasted red pepper, portobello mushroom, and home fries) to Turtle Stuffed French Toast (French toast, pecans, caramel, chocolate, and cream cheese).

Snooze an A.M. Eatery

Units: 39

Units added in 2018: 8

2018 unit growth: 20 percent

Total company sales in 2018: $78.6 million

Average-unit volume: $2.9 million

Average check: $15

Snooze isn’t meant to be a place where guests grab a quick breakfast sandwich or continue in a sleepy daze over lukewarm coffee. Instead, brothers and cofounders Jon and Adam Schlegel want to wake customers up with breakfast (and lunch). A high-energy, chef-driven concept, Snooze offers upbeat music, bright, cheery interiors, a full bar, and creative reinventions of classics like pancakes—the brand’s version, Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes, are dressed up with caramelized pineapple chunks, house-made vanilla crème anglaise, and cinnamon butter.

Snooze competes with bigger breakfast chains by targeting Millennials with an energetic atmosphere, daytime cocktails, and responsibly-sourced ingredients. And while the brand opened its first store in Denver, it isn’t staying put; Snooze now operates in California, Arizona, Texas, and North Carolina and plans to enter Georgia next.

The Flying Biscuit

Units: 21

Units added in 2018: 1

2018 unit growth: 6.7 percent

Total company sales in 2018: $26 million

Average-unit volume: $1.7 million

Average check: $25

The Atlanta-based Flying Biscuit Cafe has been serving breakfast all day for over 25 years, and they aren’t slowing down. The brand is known for its “flying biscuits”—each location bakes almost 5,000 biscuits per week–which are paired with a range of proteins, creamy grits, and cranberry-apple butter.

The brand expanded out of Atlanta throughout Georgia, Florida, and the Carolinas first, and added the first Texas store in 2017. The cafe has big plans for the next year, too; it has a goal of reaching 30 units and over $45 million in sales by 2020, which, if achieved, would mean that the brand will have nearly doubled in size since 2017.


Units: 16

Units added in 2018: 2

2018 unit growth: 15.4 percent

Total company sales in 2018: $24.5 million

Average-unit volume: $1.8 million

Average check: $15

Yolk is an upscale breakfast and lunch concept based in Chicago, with an expansive menu and a focus on menu innovation and guest experience. Founded by Taki Kastanis in 2006, when he was in his mid-twenties, the Millennial-friendly brand offers take-home sauces, syrups, mixes, and coffees, as well as brand merch like t-shirts and coffee cups, in addition to a mix of dine-in options that includes breakfast staples as well as some more unique options (like the West Coast Crepes with smashed avocado, mushroom, and scrambled eggs inside two sweet crepes).

Aside from Illinois, the brand has opened in urban areas in Texas, Indiana, and Florida, and also operates a full-service test kitchen in Chicago that offers the basic Yolk menu as well as more experimental specials, such as Korean Hot Chicken and Waffles.

NextGen Casual, Slideshow