Started by a third-generation diner kid, Eggs Up Grill has been serving breakfast, brunch, and lunch for over 25 years.
“[Founder Chris Skodras] did what he was best at, which was creating a great place for people to come in and have a diner-type experience,” said CEO Ricky Richardson.
Skodras grew the brand to 24 locations that were 100% franchised until he sold the business to private equity in 2018. That’s when Richardson got on board, and since then, growth has taken off to 58 restaurants. The brand is on track to open 20-25 restaurants in 2023 alone.
Richardson expects the brand to exceed 200 units by 2026.
“Not only is it very popular with our guests and with consumers, but it's got a strong operational and business model that is getting even more attractive,” he said.
Richardson said the sweet spot for Eggs Up Grill isn’t to be a big-box diner but rather a “neighborhood go-to place.”
The real estate strategy for Eggs Up Grill is focused on neighborhood communities and grocery-anchored shopping centers. It’s given the franchisees a chance to engage with the local community, something Richardson said was a selling point when he joined after a storied career at TGI Fridays, where he served as an executive for over 20 years.
And what does Richardson think of the breakfast segment? He sees a lot of similarities between it and the casual-dining segment he spent much of his career in.
“There's a number of very successful, very large legacy players in the category that have over time somewhat morphed into a sea of sameness,” he said.
But there’s hope for the segment yet.
“It's created an opportunity for a daypart that guests really enjoy and really look forward to; there's a social aspect to it, there's a bit of a convenience aspect, there's certainly an everyday value component to a breakfast occasion versus a dinner occasion,” he said.
The “sea of sameness” creates the opportunity for smaller emerging brands to come out of the shadows as the category gains momentum. Eggs Up Grill thinks it’s one of those clever emerging concepts poised to take on epic growth.
One reason is the brand’s pricing. On average, Richardson says the brand is about $3 less per check than most of its competitors, with a check average of $12. That helps it stand out among what is becoming a crowded field.
That price point “helps the appeal across a number of different consumer segments that gives them that access point to come in and not only have great food, but that service experience and that relationship … with a local franchisee,” he said. “[It] creates a real success factor for us.”