Livin’ High on the Hog: Bacon-themed eatery expands to TexasMar 01, 2017 05:07PM ● By Makayla Gay
By Emily Stevenson
Photos Provided By Bacon Brothers Public House
A group of local restaurateurs is looking to turn the concept of franchising on its head. Bacon Brothers Public House, a popular eatery on Greenville’s Pelham Road, has expanded its “hoofprint” to include a location in Sugar Land, Texas, with other potential franchisees in Florida, Texas, and North Carolina. The team hopes to open 15 new restaurants within the next five years.
“People saw how successful our restaurant was, so we jumped through hoops to be able to franchise,” says Mike Porter, president and managing member. “We’re kind of challenging, and maybe even somewhat changing, the franchise model for restaurants.”
Bacon Brothers offers a “chef-driven” menu, meaning diners can expect unique dishes created by head chef Anthony Gray that they can’t find anywhere else. Chef Gray will share the menu items with the franchise restaurants. The franchisees, including both chefs and operations managers, will also come to Greenville for six to eight weeks of training, and the Bacon Brothers team will travel to Texas to train the team during opening week. To coordinate all that training, Kristian Brock was brought on board as VP of franchising – and the team’s first “Bacon Sister.”
“It’s going to be a lot of training,” Porter says. “We wanted to make sure we had the operations and support available to not jeopardize the quality of our product.”
For the Sugar Land location, Bacon Brothers sent a team to Texas to search for farms and ranches from which to source meats, vegetables, and other kitchen staples. They plan to do the same for any future locations, ensuring that customers receive a true farm-to-table meal.
Greenville diners are well aware of Bacon Brothers’ quality food and beverages and have rewarded the eatery with booming business since its opening in 2012.
“We were busier from the onset than we expected to be,” says Porter. “We had not planned on taking reservations, but we found out we had to, to be able to seat people. I’ve told our franchisee in Sugar Land, Texas, to be prepared, because this will probably happen to you as well.”
Although opening a restaurant can be a dicey business, it’s been relatively smooth sailing for the Bacon Brothers. Porter has been in the industry since 2005 with partner Eric Bergelson, the restaurant’s CEO. Prior to that, Porter was in public accounting as a tax consultant, giving him a solid business background.
The two fell into the restaurant business by accident: they bought a pizza restaurant, Coal Fired Bistro, which they subsequently sold to Rick Erwin. Bacon Brothers started in much the same way: Porter and Bergelson knew the owners of a hot dog restaurant were looking to sell, and the price was right.
COO Jason Callaway is to thank for the concept. As the four men, now dubbed The Bacon Brothers, sat down to brainstorm the restaurant, Callaway brought a mason jar full of bacon as a snack.
“We were snacking on bacon and talking about how much we loved bacon,” says Porter. “I said I’d always thought a restaurant that was bacon-centric, kind of old country-looking and very casual, would do well. And we said, ‘Hey, there’s our new restaurant concept.’”
Despite popular misconception, Bacon Brothers doesn’t only sell bacon – nor is it a barbecue joint. Sure, many menu items feature bacon, including bacon-caramel popcorn and pimiento cheese with bacon jam, but Chef Gray has created a menu that will appeal to a wide range of palates. Porter describes their cuisine as “locally sourced southern comfort food that just tastes good.”
Although the staff is trained in fine-dining service, Porter and the Bacon Brothers aim to keep the restaurant casual.
“Wear a suit or wear your gym clothes,” says Porter. “We don’t care.”
The casual atmosphere has gone a long way toward helping the restaurant bring in a varied clientele. Families with children appreciated its laid-back atmosphere, while its proximity to Michelin draws in a business crowd for lunch. According to Porter, there’s no target customer; they hope to continue to draw in a wide range of diners.
And for those watching their weight?
“We joke around, we talk about the bacon, people say bacon’s not good for you,” says Porter. “But everything is locally sourced, fresh food. The Bacon Brothers food is good for you. If you’re trying to watch the carbs, where else better to eat?”