LAKEWOOD RANCH — For Bob Kirscher, selling the Broken Egg doesn’t feel like a break up.
Rather, it represents an expansion of the brand he helped establish — with the affable voice of friend, fan and promoter Dick Vitale.
Kirscher, 63, the longtime owner of the Broken Egg in Lakewood Ranch, and also, locations on Siesta Key and Clark Road in Sarasota County, with business partner Dr. Joe Gaeta, has sold the business.
Kirscher sold the Siesta Key and Lakewood Ranch locations of the restaurant to Destin, Fla.-based Another Broken Egg of America Inc., and the Clark Road location to longtime Managing Partner Dawn Hair.
“For me to make a change, it’s time,” Kirscher said during a phone call from Minnesota, his home state, where he was visiting his sons. “I’m tired. If the only way to get a real vacation was to sell it, then that is what I was going to do.”
Lafayette, La.-based Double R Restaurant Group, the largest franchisee of Another Broken Egg Cafes, with locations in Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, plans to use the Lakewood Ranch purchase as a gateway into South Florida.
Kirscher had a deal with Another Broken Egg of America Inc. that divided the use of the phrase “Broken Egg” between them.
Kirscher owned the rights to use the name anywhere in southern Florida, from Orlando to Key West.
So, now, Double R has that right — and it plans to use it.
“Bob built a great platform and clientele base,” said Stuart Ottinger, Double R chief operating officer. “I think the current base will be pleasantly surprised and accepting of the change. The only thing different is we have ‘Another’ in front of ‘Broken Egg.’”
In the next breath, Ottinger said the Broken Egg in Lakewood Ranch, which will now be called, “Another Broken Egg Cafe,” will have a different menu that is “more upscale than Bob’s.”
The menu will include seafood.
The Broken Egg in Lakewood Ranch will close for three weeks sometime soon, so the new ownership group can replace fixtures and change the décor.
But the restaurant will continue to operate as a place for breakfast and brunch, a concept that was new to Kirscher when he bought the Broken Egg on Siesta Key — the original location — with Dr. Joe Gaeta in 1997.
Ottinger also said he will work to retain the relationship with Vitale, the Lakewood Ranch resident and Hall of Fame basketball coach and sportscaster who spends his mornings at the restaurant, at his own outside table — where he orders an omelet and a fruit plate.
Vitale plugs the restaurant on Twitter and even during broadcasts. Vitale has done ESPN commentaries from the Broken Egg. In return for the publicity, the restaurant sells Vitale-related merchandise — from bobble-heads to T-shirts to books — to benefit The V Foundation for Cancer Research.
“I have not met the new owners, but I hope they continue to do the things that have been done,” Vitale said. “I have to sit and analyze what’s going to happen after meeting the new people. It’s too early for me to pass judgment on them. It’s a beautiful sight where it is. Sitting outside in the Florida sunshine, it doesn’t get better, man. It doesn’t get better than this.”
On a visit to the restaurant Nov. 11, things appeared to be status quo.
Books, balls and mugs occupy Vitale’s table. Rafael Monedero, the manager of the Broken Egg in Lakewood Ranch, is there, and he will continue to be, along with the rest of Kirscher’s roughly 30-person staff at the restaurant. Ottinger said Kirscher’s staff had been aware of a pending sale for months and, in meetings with them, he promised he would retain them if they chose.
At the Lakewood Ranch Broken Egg, which Kirscher and Gaeta opened during the economic downturn, business did not immediately take off.
“It took a long time to get it to a level that it’s at now,” Kirscher said. “At first, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. We’re not centrally located on Main Street (Lakewood Ranch) and people would call and say, ‘Where are you at? How do we get there?’”
Through his 46-year career in the hospitality industry, which began when he was 17, when he took what he thought would be a just a summer job as a cook at Howard Johnson Restaurant Co., Kirscher learned how to be a good manager — and how the sustainability of a business depends on good community relations.
The Broken Egg soon partnered with the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue and more, and Vitale’s presence began to loom larger.
Kirscher and Gaeta considered expanding Broken Egg on their own, but they didn’t have the money — or the time.
“You need some younger folks to do that (expand),” Kirscher said.
So Kirscher ceded to a major corporation — and embraced an extended vacation spent “chasing deer” in Minnesota — for now.
“I got up the other morning and thought, ‘Gosh, did I do the right thing?’” Kirscher said. “I miss my staff incredibly. I am not one to sit around. What do I do now? I have to do something. It’s been a great life for me.”
History of a Broken Egg
• Jim and Melissa Palermo founded the Broken Egg on Siesta Key in 1985. They sold the business to Mark Solo in 1990.
• Bob Kirscher and Dr. Joe Gaeta bought the Siesta Key location in 1997, and opened the Lakewood Ranch location in 2006.
• Kirscher credits the Palermos, who have since opened the Oasis Café on South Osprey Avenue, with the culinary expertise of making the menu and creating the breakfast-and-brunch idea.
Contact Josh Siegel at [email protected].
See a video with comments from Vitale and Hair below: