Southern hospitality, generous portions at a fair price
Walk into your average fast food restaurant. You don’t even have to look at the menu because you already know the handful of items they offer for breakfast. Hope you didn’t get there at 10:35, or 11:05, or five minutes after whatever arbitrary time they stop serving breakfast, because you’ll be out of luck. You got in, ate fast, got out, and moved on.
Walk into your local Huddle House. Chances are, before you’re even fully through the door, somebody hollers out, “Hi! Welcome to Huddle House!” or “Hey, darlin’!” in a way that sounds sincere because it is. Not some disembodied monotone voice over a loudspeaker that mutters automatically, “Hello-welcome-to-(insert any fast-food chain)-may-I-take-your-order-please.” You’ll grab a seat in a booth, table or at the counter, closing your eyes and breathing in the heady aromas of coffee brewing, eggs frying, bacon sizzling and waffles baking.
You’ll probably see some folks you know and wave at them before a quick but friendly server comes over to set up your coffee cup and take your order. If you’ve been here before, she’ll ask how your family is. If you’re new, she’ll notice, and she’ll ask where you’re from and whether you’re staying in town long. If you order that same thing for breakfast on a regular basis, chances are they’ll start cooking your meal before you even sit down.
While your breakfast is being cooked to order, another server will stop by and top off your beverage or coffee. He’ll ask you how you’ve been. He’s curious about whether you’re getting a waffle again today – or if you’re back for the steak and eggs. The manager might stop by, if she gets a break from the grill, to see if your steak is cooked just right and make sure you had your favorite steak sauce. You’ll notice that everyone working contributes to making sure you have a great experience, not just your server. That’s what hospitality really means. We treat you the way we would if you came to our house for a meal.
Everything about this experience draws customers into the Huddle House hospitality, which truly sets us apart from other restaurants. Customers make friends here. Our managers and servers get to know folks, even share Thanksgiving meals with them and pop in to see how they are when they’re feeling sick. Our franchise owners know that one secret to building a highly profitable restaurant is increasing visit frequency, and they understand that Huddle House does this by being as hospitable as possible. You can’t fake hospitality, and customers know the real deal when they see it.
Why breakfast matters
Huddle House is open 24 hours a day, and we serve Any Meal. Any Time. For a lot of our customers, that means breakfast. About 60% of our sales come from the breakfast menu, no matter what the time of day, and that translates into better returns for our franchisees. Restaurant owners know breakfast carries the highest margins out of all the day parts. Our restaurants stand out in a segment where there’s less competition to begin with. When you consider where to buy a sub sandwich for lunch, dozens of places come to mind. When you’re looking for a good homestyle breakfast, you can practically count the brands on one hand. A consistently great breakfast, it turns out, is hard to find in most markets.
Breakfast is one of the most underserved meal segments, even though 93% of Americans agree it’s the most important meal of the day, according to the USDA. There is less competition for the breakfast dollar, and breakfast restaurants generally have lower food costs than other meal segments. This translates into higher profit margins. When you add in a 24-hour ability to serve a high-margin meal that everyone loves, you have tremendous potential for a profitable business.
Our kitchens are open, in full view of our customers. Eating breakfast at a Huddle House is an experience — listening to servers call out your order and watching a cook prepare your meal is not only fascinating, it is a sure sign that your breakfast is as fresh as it can be. Freshly prepared breakfast isn’t that common, and in most markets the breakfast segments are underserved.
We’ve turned this scarcity into opportunity. It’s one reason we target smaller markets. Huddle House becomes a part of the community, getting involved in local fundraisers and school activities. It provides jobs in towns where jobs are sometimes hard to come by, and if you’re wondering whether folks like these jobs, just ask our managers about our turnover. Restaurant workers are a transient bunch, and there’s always going to be some turnover. But at any given Huddle House, you’re liable to find servers, cooks or managers who’ve been with us for 10, 15, 20 years or more.
Huddle House embraces small-town America in a way that no other restaurant chain does. While the average fast food franchise looks for markets with 50,000 people living and working within a three-mile radius, our numbers are more flexible. We go where others won’t, and we care about the folks who live there. Many of our franchise owners were sold on Huddle House when they realized what opening such a restaurant could truly mean for their towns. They become gathering places for the communities they’re in, and that’s a satisfying feeling for a business owner. As CEO Michael Abt likes to say, “Small towns are better off when Huddle House comes to town.”