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Zaxby's Franchisee invests in EUG; Why this experienced restaurant operator loves the brand

Brad Harper is bringing the neighborhood breakfast, brunch and lunch brand to central Florida.

By Emily ClouseStaff Writer
SPONSORED 4:16PM 08/28/19

Veteran restaurant franchisee Brad Harper currently owns and operates six Zaxby’s restaurants and has a Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar on the way. Yet he still yearns to conquer yet another food segment: breakfast. 

His dream is coming true, as he has signed a three-unit franchise deal with Eggs Up Grill, a breakfast, brunch and lunch brand that provides great tasting meals with friendly, personable service. By the end of 2019, Harper, along with his business partners Jessica Harper, James Clardy and Sandi Clardy, will have opened their first Eggs Up Grill restaurant, located in the Heath Brook Commons in Ocala, Florida. This location will also be the brand’s first location in the Sunshine State. 

Harper, a Georgia native who has lived in Ocala for almost 20 years, first got into the franchising game in 2001 when he opened his first Zaxby’s franchise in central Florida. Business boomed, so he proceeded to open up more locations in the region. He plans to have a grand total of nine Zaxby’s by the end of 2020. 

“It was one of those ‘strike while the iron is hot’ things and we wanted to bring more concepts and offer more restaurant variety to our hometown,” said Harper of his decision to bring Zaxby’s to the area. 

Like Zaxby’s, Eggs Up Grill primarily operates in the southern United States and focuses on providing a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere. Eggs Up Grill emphasizes its community connection through local franchise partners - truly “neighbors serving neighbors.”

Harper is excited to introduce Ocala to Eggs Up Grill, which is rapidly expanding throughout the southeastern U.S. 

Located in central Florida’s Marion County, which is less than one hour south of Gainesville and just over an hour northwest of Orlando, Ocala and its surrounding areas have an estimated total of more than 350,000 people. Harper described Ocala as a large community with many families—one in which the “family-focused concept” Eggs Up Grill would do well. He plans to open his other two Eggs Up Grill restaurants in Marion County as well. 

Harper’s journey to Eggs Up Grill started when he spoke with Shuckin’ Shack founder and CEO Jonathan Weathington. Harper was already proceeding with his Shuckin’ Shack plans, which involve opening a total of two or three stores, when he told Weathington he’d like to get into the breakfast segment. Weathington suggested he check out Eggs Up Grill. 

“He compared it to eating breakfast with your grandfather and I was instantly sold,” Harper said. “I visited one in Albany, Georgia and it won me over. The owner and I spent an hour chatting. I loved the warm, welcome and attentive service the restaurant had provided; it encompassed all the feel-good words. And the food was terrific as well.”

The brand’s focus on atmosphere fits in with Harper’s own management philosophy. 

“I teach my managers that it’s all about being in your comfort zone because you want your paying customer to be in their comfort zone,” he said.

Like Eggs Up Grill, Harper is also deeply involved in his community. He specifically works to help fund athletic programs and clubs for Marion County public schools. 

“Public schools are our main focus and I believe they need the most attention because of their limited budget,” Harper said. “We market alongside various schools and help with athletic programs, different clubs and whatever the kids are interested in to help.”

As busy as Harper gets with all of his restaurants and community efforts, he does find time to rest. 

“My wife and I love to travel and boat,” he said. “We are coming to a stage in our lives where we work for three months or so and then take a week-long break. In September we’re going to Colorado.”

Sounds lovely, Harper! Just don’t forget to eat breakfast. 

The startup costs for an Eggs Up Grill franchise range from $462,330 to $653,680. The franchise fee is $39,000. To learn more about franchising with Eggs Up Grill, visit