Executive Q&A with Chris Milton, Co-Founder of the Toasted Yolk Café
1851 Franchise: What is the concept behind Toasted Yolk Café? How did it start?
Chris Milton: The Toasted Yolk Café started back in 2010. My co-founder, Matt Demott, and I found the better-breakfast segment to be extremely underserved at the time, with most of the competition consisting of the occasional greasy spoon. The brunch restaurants that did exist were all the same — roosters on the wall, country-themed decor and average food. We wanted to create something that would be more upscale and lively, with flat screen TVs, a bar and a chef-driven menu. The Toasted Yolk concept proved to be a fast hit in Houston, and we started franchising the brand in 2017.
1851: What Sets Toasted Yolk Café apart in the restaurant industry?
Milton: Our family-friendly and upscale atmosphere is really second-to-none, and our made-from-scratch menu is far higher quality than most brands in the segment. For example, when we started, none of our competitors had more than two or three lunch items on the menu. We wanted lunch to mean something at Toasted Yolk. We take pride in our delicious lunch menu, and our strong lunch sales set us apart from other players within the category. Additionally, since lunch is more delivery-friendly than breakfast, these offerings have also proven to be beneficial during the pandemic.
1851: What makes Toasted Yolk Café a strong franchise opportunity?
Milton: The better-breakfast segment is experiencing major growth, and Toasted Yolk franchisees have the opportunity to tap into that. The concept also offers franchisees an enviable work/life balance — owners can be out of the restaurant by 4 p.m. and spend the evening with their families. The typical restaurant business is hard work and long hours, but we provide franchisees with an opportunity to have a life outside of their job. Also, restaurants can traditionally be complicated to run, but our streamlined business model is designed to make operations and staffing easy while maximizing profits.
1851: What were some of Toasted Yolk Café’s major accomplishments?
Milton: The first restaurant we built in Houston was a huge moment for us. When we hit 10 restaurants, that was another big milestone. Now, we plan on expanding outside of our home state of Texas into markets like Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Florida, which is exciting as we now have the potential to be more than just a regional chain.
We didn’t see a single Toasted Yolk location close during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was this year’s major accomplishment. Now, most of our restaurants have returned to pre-pandemic sales levels. We were also able to open four new locations despite the challenges of last year.
While the pandemic has forced many restaurant brands to slow down, the breakfast segment continues to grow. Now, breakfast and lunch restaurants have become the meeting place for people outside of their homes. For example, instead of bringing someone to the office, we’ve seen a huge influx in people meeting at our restaurants for business meetings.
1851: Who is the ideal Toasted Yolk franchisee?
Milton: The ideal Toasted Yolk franchisee is someone who is passionate about the brand and the food — not someone who is just worried about making money. The Toasted Yolk concept needs to be something that franchisees can get behind as a brand ambassador, and they should be excited to offer the concept to their community. We have room for both owner-operators and semi-absentee owners, but we want someone who isn't just looking to open the restaurant and forget about it.
1851: What are the goals for the brand in 2021 and beyond?
Milton: For 2021, we hope to hit the 25-unit mark. Five years from now, I would love to see us operating in the southeastern U.S. as we work our way toward becoming a nationally recognized restaurant chain people across the country know and love.
For more information on franchising with Toasted Yolk Café, visit: https://thetoastedyolk.com/franchise-opportunity/
ABOUT TOASTED YOLK CAFÉ:
Founded in 2010, the Toasted Yolk Café is a full service breakfast and lunch concept offering a mix of creative menu interpretations paired with traditional favorites. Founded by restaurant industry veterans Chris Milton and Mathew DeMott, the Toasted Yolk Café is committed to serving dishes made with only the highest-quality ingredients served in a relaxed and comfortable environment. For more information, visit https://www.thetoastedyolk.com.