A family dines at Another Broken Egg Cafe, which recently saw a management change.
Winner: Another Broken Egg Cafe
The breakfast segment is buzzing and brunch is equally big business, making this Zor Awards category one to watch as concepts battle it out in their quest for Eggs Benedict supremacy. In our evaluation, Another Broken Egg Cafe moved ahead of its competitors as a top franchise to buy thanks to its strong return on investment, calculated growth with low unit closures and on-trend, upscale food vibe.
With an initial total investment range of $510,600 to $1.19 million, opening an Another Broken Egg Cafe isn’t cheap, but contrast that with an average unit volume of $1.26 million in 2016 and top cafes doing $1.77 million in gross sales and the return on investment starts to look pretty good. Even the bottom quartile of cafes averaged $917,269 in gross sales for 2016, according to Item 19 in the company’s franchise disclosure documents.
Since founder Ron Green began franchising in 2004 the concept has steadily expanded beyond the Deep South to nearly 70 locations in 13 states, with 33 openings and only two restaurant closures in the three-year span between 2014 and 2016. Last fall Miramar Beach, Florida-based Another Broken Egg was acquired by private equity firm The Beekman Group, which installed its managing director, Chris Artinian, as president. Artinian, former CEO of Morton’s steakhouse and Smokey Bones, has identified growth via franchising as a main focus.
When Jake Alleman opened his first Another Broken Egg Cafe in Lafayette, Louisiana, in 2007, the franchise program was still in its infancy but Alleman’s restaurant experience was not, having worked for Green at the original cafe in Mandeville as a busboy and server while in college. It was just a few years after graduating from Louisiana State University that Alleman says Green called to ask if he knew anyone who might be interested in opening a restaurant.
“I immediately called my friend Cody and that was it,” recalls Alleman of how he and Cody Gielen got started. Along with business partner John Dan Gielen, they’ve since formed Cojak Investments and now have 13 cafes in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.
“When I got into it, breakfast was still a new thing and Ron had such a good vision,” continues Alleman. “We wanted to ride that wave with him and it’s still going.”
Being on the ground floor of a franchise comes with its benefits and drawbacks, as Alleman has been able to influence operations but has also been there for the growing pains.
Early on, he remembers, prep in the kitchen began with paper recipes in large binders that made it difficult to adjust when menus changed and weren’t consistent across locations.
Conversations with the franchisor led to a changeover to iPads, which Alleman says not only helps the kitchens run more efficiently but also are appealing to younger employees.
“We question the status quo a lot and they listen,” says Alleman of his relationship with company executives, a relationship that’s continued with the new leadership as Alleman notes, “Beekman is positioning us very well for the future.”
Newer operators such as Allen Miner are now part of a more established franchise system, one he says is extremely rewarding but not for those with ideas of passive ownership.
“It is not a hands-off business—you need to be involved in it,” says Miner, who opened his Another Broken Egg Cafe with wife, Deb, in the Houston suburb of Shenandoah, Texas, in 2012.
“I’m in the business almost every day, six days a week, from open to close,” Miner continues. “I really think the success of our location is because I’m here every day—people love being able to talk to the owner.”
Neither Miner nor his wife had previous restaurant experience—he was in property management, she’s a CPA—but both had always wanted to open their own business.
It was Deb’s dining experience at Another Broken Egg in Panama City, Florida, that was the catalyst for the Miners.
“Not having the experience, we thought a franchise was the way to go,” says Miner. “We could hit the ground running. We were really intrigued by the hours, being open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., we thought that was really great and allows you to still have a life outside the restaurant.”
Another Broken Egg’s franchise team was involved throughout the entire process, from the signing of the franchise agreement to the grand opening, Miner notes, and is still there as a resource, such as when Miner sought help with alcohol sales.
“We have great Bloody Marys and mimosas, but we weren’t doing a very good job selling,” says Miner, pausing to note Another Broken Egg is the largest national daytime cafe brand serving alcohol. The company offered advice about hiring a bartender “and we almost doubled alcohol sales right away.”
Alleman agrees support from the franchisor is there when needed but says he makes a point of telling any potential ‘zees who contact him that it’s ultimately up to them to make their restaurant successful, including being mindful of expenses.
“Another Broken Egg corporate is here to support us, but they’re not going to run the restaurant for you,” says Alleman. “I always tell the franchisees exactly what to expect.
Running a restaurant can get out of control quickly financially if you’re not staying on top of costs.”
Miner advises those considering a franchise to “dig into the franchise disclosure document and get help if you don’t know what to look for.
“Do your homework,” he says, “and don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions up front.”
— Laura Michaels
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