Emerging Brands

5 things to know about: Rise Southern Biscuits and Righteous Chicken

How the biscuit brand is finding success after its founder and CEO realized the concept’s complexity was setting franchisees up for failure.
Photo courtesy of Rise Southern Biscuits and Righteous Chicken

Buzzworthy Brands is a bi-weekly Restaurant Business podcast and feature highlighting innovative growth brands. Listen to the conversation with Rise Southern Biscuits and Righteous Chicken’s founder and CEO Tom Ferguson.

Rise Southern Biscuits and Righteous Chicken started out in 2012 as Rise Biscuits & Donuts. It now has 16 locations in seven states.

But the chain took a franchising pause for more than two years, starting in 2017, when founder and CEO Tom Ferguson realized the concept’s complexity was setting owners up for failure. So, Rise stopped making its doughnuts in-house, changed its name, standardized and simplified operations.

Along the way, 10 of the brand’s 26 units closed. But Rise is back in growth mode now and is seeing profits increase at both company-owned and franchised stores, Ferguson said.

Here are five more things to know about Rise:

  1. Getting rid of housemade doughnuts had a big impact on business. “Once we re-branded, it really pushed the lunchtime,” Ferguson said. “People would come to us thinking we’re a doughnut place and wouldn’t think about eating there after 11 a.m.”
  2. Moving to kiosk ordering in the restaurants has helped on a variety of fronts. “It saved a lot on labor,” he said, as well as order accuracy.
  3. How does Rise differentiate itself from other biscuit concepts? Ferguson said his brand has always been focused on off-premise occasions, higher-quality ingredients and light-and-fluffy biscuits.
  4. Consistency is a big push of Rise 2.0. Restaurants are outfitted with posters listing biscuit-making steps and workers have access to training videos. Ferguson regularly visits stores to make sure everything is working right. “I just got off the road for two weeks traveling to out-of-state stores,” he said. “I’ve seen consistent biscuits across the brand. I believe we have the training down.”
  5. Re-imagining his restaurant company was the hardest thing Ferguson has ever done, he said. “But it also turned out to be a turning point for the company,” he said. “It’s hard not to just say, ‘Let’s keep selling them; they look god on paper.’”

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