After seeing Michael Greeley’s biscuits, George McLaughlin knew he wanted to start a restaurant with him.
Now the business partners are out to make the best biscuit the South has ever seen with their concept Vicious Biscuit.
Greeley, with over 20 years in the restaurant industry as a host, server, line cook, and manager, grew tired of the fast-casual concepts that served biscuits and brunch in Charleston, S.C. In response, he started Vicious Biscuit as a catering company that centered around a made-from-scratch biscuit with creative pairings and toppings.
After an article was published in the local newspaper about the concept in 2018, McLaughlin joined him to open the first brick-and-mortar location of Vicious Biscuit in Mount Pleasant, S.C.
McLaughlin came to the table with a vast array of restaurant knowledge. He is formerly a McAlister's franchisee and founder of Bottles Beverage Superstore.
“We collaborated to build out a menu to just really make brunch fun again,” McLaughlin said.
The restaurants feature a “quick, casual” setting where customers order at the counter and Vicious Biscuit’s employees “take care of the rest.”
Brunch has exploded in the past 10-15 years thanks primarily to casual-dining spots with large and decorative alcoholic drinks and over-the-top entrees. But full-service joints are always limited by seats and wait times. McLaughlin knew that’s where Vicious Biscuit could beat the rest.
“I think in today's world, especially with third-party delivery, customers love to come to us over the counter, be a part of the experience, and sit down instead of waiting an hour or two to get a table at a full-service brunch spot,” he said.
Vicious Biscuit regularly has a long line outside of its locations, but the founders claim customers can get the whole experience — going through the line, ordering, sitting down, and eating — in 48 minutes.
What makes Vicious Biscuit stand out even further is the sheer size of its biscuits: about the size of pancakes. The size accounts for the higher price, which gives some customers sticker shock, but those guests are typically relieved when they see portion sizes.
“It's called Vicious Biscuit because they're truly a plate size,” McLaughlin said. “They're massive.”
Biscuits at Vicious Biscuit run between $8 and $16 depending on the toppings. Many of the items are sold as sandwiches, including the $16 biscuit, which is an open-face biscuit with blackened shrimp, low country gravy, and white cheddar stone-ground grits and topped with thick-cut bacon crumbles and chives.
“[Customers are] like, ‘Wow, that's an expensive biscuit,’” he said. “But once they have it and order it, they realize how much the value is to it.”
For both McLaughlin and Greeley, biscuits are in the family. Both Southern boys grew up making and eating biscuits, and they both knew what made a good biscuit.
“My grandmother, she would make these hand-rolled biscuits and all different types, from the mayonnaise biscuits to the cathead biscuits to dinner biscuits,” McLaughlin said. “Really, it's something that has been a part of my life ever since I can remember.”
The key, he says, is in the ingredients. That includes high-quality flour and eggs that the concept has never wavered from, despite the rising costs of those goods during and immediately following the pandemic.
“Don't cut corners. … We've kept it simple the entire time,” McLaughlin said. “There's no reason for us to cut the quality with what we do.”
Vicious Biscuit has seven open units, but McLaughlin said that there are plans for massive growth.
“I see Vicious Biscuit and I see an endless runway for us,” he said.
In fact, the brand just began franchising at the end of 2023, with its first franchise location set to open in Northeast Ohio. McLaughlin was quick to say that while the team is looking for both single and multi-unit operators to be a part of the team, they are careful who they are going to choose to partner with.
One of those reasons is that McLaughlin and Greeley want to use their franchisees as an R&D department, since they’re on the ground floor dealing with customers all day.
After all, as McLaughlin points out: “The Big Mac was created by a franchisee.”
Contact Holly Petre at [email protected]
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