Eggs Up Grill doesn’t scream either. This is an implicit message, notes Richardson. This has become increasingly critical amid inflationary trends and, more specifically, the continued rise in menu prices across the industry. In truth, $11 isn’t far off, if at all, from what it costs to eat at a fast food restaurant.
Social appeal, however, is something Eggs Up Grill has delved into further. Namely, by adding mimosas in 2021. Alcohol sales now account for 3-5% of catch, on average. The initiative is underway in around 75% of restaurants, with the rest working with permits.
Again, this has become a dynamic strategy throughout the lexicon. First Watch launched alcohol nationwide for the first time in November 2020. As of June 2021, it was in 244 restaurants and accounted for 3.6% of in-restaurant sales in corporate units. Alcohol also increased the average spending of customers at First Watch’s restaurant by 30 cents.
Another Broken Egg, which was founded just outside of New Orleans, really started amplifying its beverage program in 2020 and saw its average sales jump from $10 to $16. Pitchers of Bloody Marys and mimosas soared 20% in 2020. The mix grew from 8% in 2019 to 12.5% a year later.
Along with a dine-in renaissance, the sudden one-two combo of offsite earnings also established itself well above the 2019 marks.
Eggs Up Grill’s guest count is about 3 points higher than pre-COVID, Richardson says, something few casual chains can match. This while total off-premises sales climbed 15 points. So one does not cover the other.
In turn, when you add up the alcohol gains, Eggs Up Grill’s average unit volumes are $150,000 higher today than before the crisis (at over $1 million). The top half of the system is $200,000 ahead.
Development accelerated alongside sales growth, with Eggs Up Grill closing 2021 with 54 locations versus 37 at the end of 2019, a growth of 45%. “Fifteen or 16” is slated to open in 2022, and the brand has a total committed pipeline of about 100 restaurants, Richardson says.
“It’s an experience our guest can count on,” he says of the big picture. “As things stabilized and became more normal in our markets, we were that place where you could rely on [to go to]. You could count on us before, and you could count on us when you came back and we had new things to do.
Richardson refers to third party delivery, online ordering, phone ordering and catering. Additionally, Eggs Up Grill launched the Biscuits, Bowls & Burgers virtual brand in 2021 to reach new customers and increase weekday lunch revenue. It’s in 30 percent of the units. “I think it’s a solution here to stay,” Richardson says.
Eggs Up Grill added resources in culinary development last year and outfitted new stores with a set of equipment upgrades that includes a streamlined design and the addition of fryers. The chain’s newest prototype, launched in 2020, is a 2,300-2,800 square foot box that seats 85 guests. It’s upbeat, clean, modern, and has a pick-up station to open up access to online ordering and third-party delivery. A pickup window also debuted last year at a store in Rome, Georgia. Eggs Up Grill recently completed its first redesign/reimaging at a location in Myrtle Beach, SC.
“We’re always focused on how you take the friction out of the customer experience and make it a great experience,” says Richardson, noting that there are currently two pickup windows in the system. “So given the significant increase in off-site sales, how can we make it more efficient to order ahead instead of having to find the parking spot, walk in and wait for someone.”
The new prototype is visible in about a third of the system. Richardson says the model centered on “the main clues to what Eggs Up Grill is.”
“We’ve had phenomenal success with this in new restaurants,” he says. “Great compliments from franchisees, but especially from our customers who have always been long time users of existing Eggs Up Grills, but now have the opportunity to experience the new stores. There has been a positive impact noticeable on how they perceive the brand.”