Breakfast Concept Scramblers Heads to New Markets | Franchise News


Breakfast concept Scramblers is adding to its menu offerings and to its unit count. The company also launched a fast-casual spinoff called City Egg.

Sometimes a brand can rely on what made it special in the first place, while also using some new tricks to be successful.

That’s the strategy of Scramblers, an Ohio-based breakfast concept that’s in a period of growth, especially in the Southeast. The company was founded in 1990 by Shain Buerk and his father, Philip, and remains a family-run business.

For most of its history, Scramblers has also been serving one meal: breakfast. It’s been the brand’s identity after a nine-month stretch at the start when the company had an expanded menu.

“Back in the day, there were a lot of restaurants where the whole concept was to be everything to everyone,” Buerk said. “We decided after several months to focus on just one thing: breakfast and lunch. We learned that we had to do what we were best at. The best we could be was the place a person thinks of on a Sunday morning when they want breakfast. The place that focuses on that, and leaves dinner to someone else.”

In the years that followed, Buerk said there was interest to franchise, but plans were put on hold.

“Franchising is a different business,” Buerk said. “We’re good at restaurant operations, but franchising is about marketing, support advertising, operational efficiency. It’s a different animal. So, we didn’t want to take away from our focus as restaurant operators.”

Scramblers started franchising in 2008, after it refined its operations; today it has 15 franchised units and another 15 company-owned stores.

The company intends to grow more in 2023, too, with markets in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee targeted. There are already plans in place to open five locations in Jacksonville, Florida. As part of that growth, the brand is implementing some new things to go along with its classic breakfast menu.

One of them is a new point-of-sale system, developed in house and customizable for each location. Scramblers is also introducing alcohol at some locations after franchisees brought forward the idea. In mid-2022, Scramblers debuted alcohol sales at its company-owned units.

“Over the last few years, we’ve designed cocktail menus, some of them elaborate and some more streamlined,” Buerk said. “The trend for the industry is to pick up additional sales through some select cocktails, mimosas being the most obvious. So far, it hasn’t been as dramatic as we might have expected originally.

“We thought we might see 10 percent to 20 percent of our sales start coming from alcohol,” Buerk continued. “In our preliminary stages, we haven’t seen alcohol sales surpassing 7 percent. It’s been a relatively small percent of our business. However, we do expect it to grow, since we’re just testing it right now. It is our plan to roll it out systemwide, but we’re going to work through all of the details to make sure it’s efficient as possible.”


Shain Buerk

The evolution of Scramblers is also evident in its fast-casual spinoff, City Egg, which it launched in 2016. Two are open in Ohio, with a third under construction.

Buerk said the more to-go style eatery has been under consideration for nearly a decade. “About eight years ago, we realized that a lot of our younger customers were more transient, that they didn’t have time to invest in sitting in our restaurants,” Buerk said. “To appeal to that group, a fast-casual concept of Scramblers took hold.”

To make it happen, Buerk said Scramblers leadership reviewed the menu and took the top 25 percent of best-selling items to create City Egg’s lineup.

“It’s made to order, but it’s also made very quickly,” Buerk said. “The ticket times on average for a City Egg is only four minutes, with the ordering all happening at a kiosk or on your phone.”

When coming up with the idea, Buerk said he wanted something that was recognizable as a breakfast place, but with a modern flair. To extend brand awareness, signs for City Egg have a small “by Scramblers” script on them, while still having their own identity as smaller spaces with modern designs.

Buerk said the three existing units are company-owned, but plans are in the works to franchise the model.

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