our vision for the year 2025
by Karl & Sarah Worley
A BRAND MADE UP OF DREAMS AND COMPASSION
As we walk through the doors of our original store, we are reminded of how far we have come with Biscuit Love. We are now over twenty five stores in six markets strong with local partners who share in our mission, vision, and values. It’s January 2025, only 10 years from when we embarked on this journey, and man have we learned a lot. We went from one boot-strapped location to stores in Atlanta, Raleigh-Durham, DC, Charleston, Philly, and Chicago. The best part is that our culture is consistent, our customer experience is consistent, and our employee engagement levels are consistent.
We have become masters at dividing ourselves without disconnecting. We’ve had tons of home runs - and plenty of strike outs… but we have continued to grow as parents, as business-owners, and as dreamers. We have both stepped into founder’s roles, meeting all staff in orientation while maintaining the ability to have personal and authentic relationships and access to our staff. They know we care… they know they matter.
We have established ourselves as leaders in the industry. We are now committed to sharing what we love most about Biscuit Love. We teach, we engage, we live out our belief system. Not just for us, but for others in leadership, others in hospitality, really anyone who is shaping and growing other people. We are creating a legacy of love, a legacy of servant and compassionate leadership, a legacy of second chances, a legacy of investing in the underdog. We began training our staff to new levels and now other organizations have asked us to share our secrets, allowing us to explore a training arm of the business.
Gertie is now working in the business, learning the ins and outs like all the trainees before her. She thinks she knows it all, but she has been invigorated by all the complexity and nuances she missed while she was busy being the little “Boss Lady.”
We have managed to find opportunities to impact the community in big ways. Every store’s mission is a little different, but it is personal to every employee. We have allowed the staff to take time to invest in the community around them. To pick things they are passionate about, to find ways to apply their learning at BLB towards their life, their families, and their communities. Biscuit Love has become a brand of compassion, of community building, and of growing lifelong die-hards willing to go through the ups and downs with us.
LEADERS IN THE BREAKFAST BUSINESS
We greet a customer who walked in ahead of us and hand them a menu. The menu design has changed dramatically from when we were new, but the layout is still fresh, clean, and easy to read. We have kept the menu to less than thirty food items for clear and concise, yet fresh takes on Southern breakfast classics. Our classic dishes have only been made stronger as our purchasing power grew. We are now sourcing better eggs and chicken, one of our greatest challenges when first starting out.
We have also strengthened our relationship with farmers, not only in Nashville, but in all of our markets by guaranteeing prices for product, higher pay rates for better animal welfare, and the use of less chemicals. We have also designed “seasonal sides,” which allow us to use smaller farmers who would otherwise not have the capacity to sell wholesale. The profits from the farm sides are being reinvested into micro-loans to help current and new farmers within our markets who are struggling to profit when using best practices.
We leave the customer and walk towards the bar. Looking around, you would never know the space has been open for ten years. The team has done an incredible job keeping the restaurant looking clean and fresh. We stop at the bar to grab some espresso drinks. While we are watching the coffee staff blow the customers away with their care and speed, we begin to discuss what seasonal cocktails the bar will be rotating on for the Spring menu. We overhear an employee explaining our coffee roasting operation in great personal detail because they spent a month learning to roast the coffee. In the same way we are helping farmers here locally, we have also been able to find families with small lot coffee farms, and commit to buying their crops at a higher than average rate. This allows us to sell a great cup of coffee while allowing our suppliers to have more enriched lives.
We have continued to maintain our reputation for excellence. While the menu hasn’t seen major changes, we continue to evolve to stay relevant, current, and excellent. We continue to establish ourselves as THE leader in the breakfast segment.
IT’S IN THE SOIL
As we move through the dining room and into the kitchen we see a staff that is moving gracefully, who are working clean, and their efficiency is admirable. You can tell that they are comfortable in their jobs, confident in the product they are making and serving, and committed to the quality of every item they plate for the customers. We have established a business that understands hospitality at its core. Every member of our team is dedicated to the experience each guest receives.
We are making better hires than we ever have. The bad hires don’t make it through the training process. We truly have a staff dedicated to who we are and what we do and the folks who don’t understand the experience often work their way out. Our restaurants are full of Worleys with their own stories of God’s intervention and second chances that
exceed expectations and they are all eager to share that with each and every guest in the restaurant.
The stores are consistently getting top health scores. Store branding is stronger than ever which is maintained with clean, crisp, yet welcoming restaurants. Code Reds and Greens have become everyday lingo in our stores as employees in both the front and back of house are dedicated to excellence. We spent a lot of time worrying about culture as we grew, but realized if we just kept doing and modeling the right thing the soil would be nourished.
HAVING WORKED FOR BISCUIT LOVE MEANS SOMETHING
As it always was, people are our backbone. We have established ourselves as one of the best places to work, learn, and grow in the hospitality industry. Biscuit Love continues to be a diverse organization with forward-thinking ideas like our staff care program, equitable pay, intentional interactions, comprehensive health initiatives, and other programs that allow us to be a leader at the forefront of our industry.
The staff care team is looking deeper into employee needs. Our newest initiative being rolled out is our college enrichment program where we provide funding for all eligible employees. The team has grown and is at 10 employees across the six markets. We have maintained our dedication to bilingual staff care teams. Our new wellness team has also fallen under this division of the company.
Our staff care program has gained national attention, allowing us to facilitate real change in the industry we love. Our focus on health care for all employees, drug and alcohol intervention, mental health awareness and activism has allowed us to create a safe place for all employees to thrive no matter their circumstances. We’ve helped people build homes, beat cancer, adopt children, and as part of staff care we now have licensed counselors in every market stepping in and interceding for our staff, their families, and the community.
By rolling out our employee health initiatives and wellness teams, we have seen dramatic improvements in our employee’s well-being. While walking through the store, an employee approaches to tell us how grateful they are that we provided easily accessible healthcare for them and their family. It allowed her to see a doctor with no expense out of pocket.
We are now providing healthcare across the board, reduced cost YMCA memberships, and easy access to healthcare providers. We have also implemented our incentive-based health initiatives including smoking cessation, weight loss, healthier living, sleep habits, mental health, addiction counseling, family and marriage counseling, etc. We are walking out our commitment to achieving a healthier staff. Working for us means something on a résumé. Employers know that Biscuit Love employees have been growing and learning in all aspects of their lives.
OPEN BOOKS REVOLUTIONIZING FAST CASUAL
As we work our way through the store, I cannot believe how far we have come with our open book management. Not only are the managers hitting finance, food quality, and team goals, but also helping to teach employees how to hit their individual goals as well. Our team boards are hung throughout the back of house and office. It is so fun to see new employees highly engaged in the money part of the business. Not only has it made them more solution-based, but their creativity and excitement has led to some of our greatest cost-saving measures.
Open book was a game changer for Biscuit Love. When we were first getting started, ownership of the financial successes (and failures) fell on the shoulders of just a few people. (That is a lot of pressure!) Since rolling out open book, we have thousands of employees committed to maximizing our bottom line! Our teams understand that revenues are not the only driver of financial success and therefore we are funneling more and more money back into our business, into our employees, and to our investors and owners. We have revolutionized the fast casual segment, creating fast scratch-made food with high profits while never losing our commitment to our exceptional level of service.
NEXT LEVEL STAFF ENGAGEMENT
We have nearly 2000 employees now and seem to be growing daily with new “biscuits.” With a consistent commitment to training, our program has become a reliable tool in the success of our business. The passport for training has evolved greatly since roll-out. However, better on-the-job and manager training has created significant improvements in quality and consistency.
After teaching the monthly culture class for new employees, we load into a van to tour some local farms we use and to visit some other restaurants in town. Incorporating this into training has become the standard for all new employees. It helps them know why we are committed to local sourcing, but also helps them understand why we are so committed to the care of our relationships and products. It has created next level staff engagement.
Our management team have become pros at identifying and growing new talent and this is just another example of how they are taking the time to know their staff members. We are an organization dedicated to life advancement, not just job advancement. When we ask our staff to do an employee engagement survey, this is what we hear; “Our company cares and invests in me.” “Biscuit Love allows me to dream both personally and professionally.” “I am offered extensive growth opportunities.”
After leaving the Gulch store we stop by the home office. It is really more of a think tank than an office. It houses our design, training, employee care and accounting departments. What is most unexpected is how collaborative this group of people is. They are all committed to the success and future of our little world-changing restaurant. They are also excited about the roasting facility moving in downstairs. Fresh roasted coffee smells to work in is just another perk along with our full-time employee masseuse, coffee bar, library, and laundry facilities. Our Nashville team has grown drastically and this place has become a hub, a home, a respite for each of them. And this is exactly what we had always envisioned.