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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Biscuit Review from AJC

Biscuit flying up, not selling out
By MERIDITH FORD Wednesday, May 16, 2007, 02:44 AM
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

WE LIVE IN A WORLD where star chefs such as Todd English and Wolfgang Puck add to their dining dynasties by opening extensions of established restaurants in airports. Where Wal-Mart claims to sell organic food. Where food diva Rachael Ray becomes the spokesperson for Dunkin’ Donuts.
Can you say sell-out?
I can. And I can define it, too. It happens when someone who already has loads more than he or she could possibly need keeps prostituting themselves for more. And it happens all the time in the food industry.
It didn’t happen with local restaurateur Delia Champion of Flying Biscuit Café. It’s easy for those of us who’ve loved her tattered-and-tatto@oed haven in Candler Park since it opened in 1993 to wonder why last year she sold her concept to Raving Brands (which operates Mama Fu’s, Doc Green’s and Shane’s Rib Shack, among many). Blog boards were cluttered with comments when the news was announced last May, with copious amounts of support and criticism.
BITA HONARVAR / StaffFlying Biscuit owner Delia Champion has been criticized for selling to Raving Brands, which plans to expand to other areas.
And truly, it’s difficult to duplicate a concept like Flying Biscuit. The original location, with it’s grungy take on grits-goes-gourmet, has a very loud personality. Making two (which Champion did with a second location in Midtown) and keeping the corporate clutch at bay is a daunting task; even the Midtown location lacks the inner-city-goes-country charm of the original.
So the idea of turning an eclectic neighborhood restaurant with a broad fan base and a boffo breakfast menu that needs personal, loving touches in the kitchen into a chain is abhorrent to most foodies.
Well, get over it. Champion, like most struggling restaurateurs, saw an opportunity she couldn’t refuse. Most of us would do the same if it meant financial freedom for our families. In a press release, she states “… they [Raving Brands] have the resources and infrastructure to do things I could never do — better opportunities for employees, better food procurement, deep experience in store and real estate development, all of which will be important to our ability to expand the Biscuit in a way that maintains the integrity of the food and the experience.” Champion and Raving Brands are working with each other to replicate the Biscuit in other areas.
Local franchisee John Slocum and Q100 “Bert Show” radio personality Jeff Dauler, operating under Let’s Go Back, LLC, have teamed to put the five franchises in place. The first, located at 3515 Northside Parkway in Atlanta, was set to open May 14.
So while we may be critical of the process, and even critical of the end means, we shouldn’t be critical of Champion — she has a small restaurant in Candler Park we all love.
I hate the thought of the Biscuit showing up on the corner of every new strip mall in Alpharetta. But I don’t think Champion has become the spokesperson for White Lily flour, nor is she staging an opening in Las Vegas. Not yet anyway.
Who’s been to the first Flying Biscuit franchise? Tell me about it.
Permalink Comments (39) Post your comment Categories: Dining


By Jen
May 16, 2007 9:14 AM Link to this
I live down the street from the original Biscuit. I go there with my family every Friday morning (to the bakery). We mostly go because of the people there. I personally don’t like their style of biscuit, which I find a little too sweet and definitely too dry. I like biscuits soaked in butter….

But, we love Jeffery and Brian and the coffee. And when we do eat in the restaurant we like the various dishes. I really like their hash browns. They do a pretty good job with eggs, too.
And we like the idea they have on Friday nights for dinner and wine, etc.

I think in order for this to work the corporation is going to need to pay very real attention to the staff they hire. What is the Biscuit without all the tattooed, pierced, neon-haired, groovy people who worth there, who are friendly and interested and knowledgeable? And do they exist in enough numbers in the suburbs to staff a franchise?


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