Tell us about your professional background and the birth of Biscuit Belly.
My background is actually as a clinical pharmacist. I started my career by teaching at a small College of Pharmacy in Louisville and rounding with a medical team in an academic medical center. I started to get the entrepreneurial itch in 2011 when we started a “paint and sip” business and then opened up LouVino, a small plates and wine bar restaurant in 2014. We grew LouVino to 5 locations and then started Biscuit Belly.
We opened the first Biscuit Belly location in May 2019 and have since opened two additional locations. We planned to open five locations in 2020 but obviously with the COVID-19 outbreak, we paused our expansion efforts. We are currently targeting to open 4-5 additional corporate locations and 3-4 franchise locations in 2021.
What makes Biscuit Belly different from other biscuit concepts?
The atmosphere, the food and the people. Our menu was developed by a classically trained chef, Tavis Rockwell, who spent many years in fine dining. Tavis took the flavors of the south and cooking methods he learned in culinary school to create a standout menu that none of our competitors come close to beating.
Every dish is made-to-order including house-smoked meats and vegetarian and gluten-free options. Our atmosphere and people really make us who we are with our genuine hospitality and upbeat, fun vibe. Unlike other biscuit concepts, we really focus on providing a better overall guest experience by running drinks, food and bussing tables.
Tell us about your business partner, Chuck Schnatter.
Chuck and I met through a mutual acquaintance who worked in M&A and private equity. Chuck initially invested in LouVino and was impressed with our operations and team. I told Chuck that I wanted to eventually open a biscuit concept and he thought I was kidding. The two of us flew down to Nashville to check out a local concept there and he was very impressed with the amount of people waiting in line and I believe that quickly changed his mind on the concept.
Who is your “ideal” franchisee?
We’re looking for operators who have similar values in line with the culture of our brand and are community-minded. Working with individuals or groups with multi-unit experience is also important as we want our franchisees to grow with us and open more locations as we seek biscuit dominance.
Given the current climate, is now a good time to start a franchise?
Many experts in the franchising field think 2021-2022 will be some of the best franchising years ever as far as deals signed. Real estate prices should decrease along with the influx of second-generation (former restaurant) spaces, the talent pool is deep, and people are eager to work for themselves after being let go from larger corporations. Also, brunch and fast casual concepts are trending and we fortunately offer both in one concept which is very attractive to people.
Where are your current locations?
We currently operate three locations throughout Louisville and have received a great amount of interest from potential franchisee groups in Florida and Georgia. We’re targeting the Midwest and Southern regions for growth.
What type of support do you provide your franchisees?
Our commitment to our franchisees’ success is paramount. We help with real estate selection, initial training, ongoing support, site visits, operational advice and best practices and marketing support. We are also implementing the best technology possible to make our franchisees’ lives as easy as possible when it comes to operations.
Have you celebrated any particular achievements in the past 12 months? And what’s your focus for the year ahead?
I would say our biggest achievement is hunkering down during COVID-19 shutdowns and focusing on tightening up our operations, training and systems. We have had a lot of time to regroup and refocus on areas that needed improvement to get ready for franchising. Additionally, getting our franchise documents completed and launching the franchise program was truly an undertaking and huge accomplishment.