My Favorite Muffin Gets Back to Basics
My Favorite Muffin, the bakery café concept and secondary brand of the Big Apple Bagel, has gone through a lot of evolution since it was acquired by Big Apple Bagels in 1997 but the leadership team thinks going back to basics is the path forward.
Under Big Apple Bagel, the brand grew into a proper full-service bakery café and it does well with a full line of sandwiches, a coffee bar with another internal brand (Brewster’s Coffee), and deli sandwiches on bread and Big Apple bagels. As the leadership team embarked on a rebranding, it saw a lot of trendy qualities within the brand such as shorter hours than a QSR concept and a lot of synergies between the in-house brands.
But in the close look at the business and the qualities, they spotted a potential opportunity at a legacy location and after talking with current and potential franchisees.
“The common theme was the love for our muffin products. When you take a look at how the cafes are doing and the love for the products, it made sense for us to look at My Favorite Muffin and look at that brand,” said Brian Evans, franchise development lead and son of CEO Michael Evans.
One of the older stores had been grandfathered in before the full-service update, and never pulled the trigger, focusing solely on muffins.
“We noticed something a little different, the store in Louisville, unlike the cafes, they had never switched to the full-service model. So we looked at that and saw $636,000 in sales and noticed her cost of goods was significantly lower than what it would be: 24 percent cost of goods sold,” said Evans. “So it was apparent that this might be the model.”
For some context, a 24 percent costs of goods is pretty low. Panera was able to reach 22 in its final earnings report before going private. While it had a lot higher unit volumes, 24 percent is pretty darn efficient. Adding ingredients like meat and lettuce for sandwiches drove that upward, but those products didn’t drive enough sales and sapped profitability. That didn’t work for Evans, a former TCBY franchisee who said he designs all the company operations around franchisees.
In the smaller, original model, the company could focus on some of those other perks that have the breakfast-focused category growing fast, such as shorter days, more-regular traffic from a breakfast routine and additional revenue streams from off-premises or retail plays. The fresh angle was big, too.
“All products made from scratch in the restaurants. I really wanted our franchisees to have all these revenue opportunities. The other thing that attracted me to the My Favorite Muffin focus was the gift giving part of that occasion, gift baskets and special occasions,” said CEO Michael Evans.
He said the model launched earlier this year along with some other branding updates, a new website and polish all around.
“We’re definitely putting a lot of effort into this new model we see great value in this simpler operations model, better scalability and it’s cheaper to get into, $243,000 to $350,000. So in the franchisee world that’s relatively low, especially in the restaurant business,” said Evans. “It really lends itself to multi-unit operators.”
Brian Evans said they’ve just started working on closer synergies between My Favorite Muffin and the Brewster’s Coffee brand.
“What makes us sort of unique, a muffin you still retain that breakfast day part and the fact that we own our coffee brand allows us to marry cross promotions with our muffins, so we can do a pumpkin spice coffee with a pumpkin muffin or almond muffin with our almond coffee,” said Brian Evans.
Right now, there’s just the original legacy location. But the management team said it’s searching for the right operators, namely new operators that want multiple, efficient locations instead of another restaurant.