One of the most challenging parts of being an emerging chain is scaling without compromising on food quality. But that’s not an issue for Charlotte, N.C.-based, 26-unit, all-day breakfast and brunch chain Famous Toastery.
This restaurant brand is equally known for its brunch offerings, like mimosa flights and sandwiches, as it is for more traditional breakfast fare like build-your-own omelets and its famous stuffed French toast. And in the dawning of the new age of breakfast chains, Famous Toastery differentiates itself by emphasizing freshness; nothing is frozen, the orange juice is always squeezed that day, and quality is never sacrificed for the bottom line, even during the challenging days of the pandemic.
“Fresh is such a buzzword and can really mean anything,” Famous Toastery CEO Robert Maynard said. “But for us, it’s our ethos; it’s who we are. It doesn’t matter if we have 10 or 100 stores, the freshness is going to make the difference.”
As the breakfast category evolves from the legacy family dining brands with smiley-face pancakes to a wider and more modern demographic, daytime-focused restaurants are figuring out that you can’t hide subpar food quality.
“You can’t fake a fresh avocado or fresh egg,” Maynard said. “We do things the right way all the time.”
As a breakfast chain with both family-friendly appeal and boozy brunch options, Famous Toastery knows how crucial alcohol has become to the elevated first-meal experience.
“In [large cities] you go out with your friends to brunch and have a drink and it becomes a different experience, and now you can have that experience anywhere,” Maynard said. “And we do really good numbers on [alcoholic drinks]. Everyone has gotten into it, even the ones who weren’t doing it before. … It’s all about elevating the experience at the end of the day.”
The other important part of the Famous Toastery recipe is treating people well, which Maynard again admitted can be a bit of a cliché in the industry, but it’s a cliché it is proud to include as part of its brand DNA. It’s about treating both customers and employees right and being tuned into changing needs. Maynard said, for instance, that customers are becoming more culinary-savvy, and want to know how fresh their food is and where it came from. Famous Toastery servers are proud to tell them that the restaurant is nitrate-free and doesn’t use any frozen ingredients heated up in microwaves.
“You're trying to run your business, you want to make money, but you have to get people in the door,” Maynard said. “If you don’t have the right people running the place, it could turn a good experience into a bad one. Whether it’s your employees, your patrons or franchisees, you have to make every person feel important. We might have great food, but it’s the great service that makes the experience not-so-typical.”