What began as a desire to deliver tasty breakfast dishes to Columbus residents round the clock has since become a quick-service restaurant business run by two industry veterans.
Eggfast −conceived by brothers Pete and Jon Nowak, the owners of Café Corner in Columbus’s Harrison West neighborhood from February 2006 to December 2009− reopened in October 2009 after an extensive rebranding effort.
Located near The Ohio State University campus at 24 E. 12th Ave., Eggfast not only offers delivery, but also dine-in, carry-out and catering services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“The idea initially started as ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to come home from the bar and not have to fight the crowds at Tee Jay’s or Waffle House, and have someone deliver you breakfast food?’ That evolved as we realized that virtually no one delivers food in Columbus outside of pizza, subs, and wings,” says Pete Nowak, Eggfast founder, president and chief operating officer.
“We had always had a popular delivery program at Café Corner and knew how to execute it,” he adds, referring to the Nowaks’ Late Night Eggs operation that offered delivery and take-out from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Eggfast’s delivery service also appears to be popular. In fact, Eggfast executed more than 2,000 deliveries during February alone.
All items on the restaurant menu are available for delivery, which typically takes 45 minutes to an hour and costs $2.
Eggfast currently delivers south of Columbus’s downtown, north of North Broadway Street, east to Interstate 71, and west to Northwest Boulevard. However, the addition of other locations might make it necessary to modify those parameters in the future.
Eggfast has become a polished, marketable concept aimed at competing with the major quick-service breakfast establishments at the national level, Nowak says.
“Developing a franchise concept properly takes a concerted effort on multiple fronts,” he continues. “Operationally you need to develop a system that is highly documented down to the smallest detail. The concept must be reproduced many times over and ensure that a customer receives the same breakfast burrito in Gainesville, Florida as they would in Columbus, Ohio. This is made possible by highly systemized operations and a comprehensive training program.
“The development takes a considerable amount of trial and error. You have to weigh what works and what doesn’t. There is also the strategic planning both financially and logistically. It is very expensive to develop and execute a franchise concept. All your expenditures need to be planned for and properly funded. There is extensive legal work that must be done. Our franchise documents are literally hundreds of pages long.”
The Nowak brothers enlisted the services of franchise consultants Michael H. Seid & Associates to help develop the Eggfast franchise system, which is now available in 36 states.
Eggfast is simply addressing a rising all-day breakfast service trend in North America, Nowak says, citing a statistic from marketing firm NPD Group that claims the fast food breakfast market, in particular, is growing three times faster than the $200 billion market itself.
However, trends aside, the real key to Eggfast’s success is its food.
“For the market we serve, Eggfast offers a superior breakfast product,” Nowak says. “We don’t use any prefabricated egg products. We use fresh eggs in all of our recipes. We make our salsa from scratch in-house, our hash brown casserole is made by hand every day, et cetera.”
The aforementioned hash brown casserole is a customer favorite, but the buttermilk pancakes Eggfast rolled out in the spring have become “the rising star of the menu,” Nowak says. The pancakes are available plain, or with chocolate chips or blueberries.
Salads, on the other hand, have not been bestsellers.
“When we opened last year we had about five different salads on the menu,” Nowak says. “I think we sold about seven the whole year.”
Trial and error and, perhaps more importantly, industry experience has helped the Nowaks establish another thriving restaurant concept.
“Our experience operating Café Corner helped us fine tune our abilities to understand the economics of a restaurant, what it takes to keep your costs in line,” Nowak says. “We also gained valuable experience in understanding what the consumer market and, ultimately, the guest values in a restaurant.”
For more information about Eggfast, visit Eggfast.com.
All photography by Adam Slane.