“We love it. It is fun—challenging, but fun. Certainly things about it are frightening. It is a big gamble because after all, it is our life savings. But we believed in it and took the plunge…”
How many of you can relate to this quote from Navy Federal business member Homer Biggers, co-owner with wife Linda of Another Broken Egg (ABE) café in Pensacola, Florida? If there’s one trait small business owners have in common, its passion—passion for their idea, passion for their plan and passion for pursuing their dream.
Yes, starting a business means taking a leap of faith in yourself and your idea, but that makes the reward so much better.
ABE in Pensacola is just minutes away from Navy Federal’s Heritage Oaks campus, making it a frequent stop for Navy Federal employees looking to grab a tasty bite. During my last visit to Heritage Oaks, I paid Homer and Linda Biggers a visit to indulge in a few beignets and hear their story.
Jim Salmon: Tell the readers a little bit about you and your restaurant.
Homer Biggers: Linda was born in East Texas, grew up in Louisiana, and there lies her interest in the flavors and spices of that area. In her youth, their family vacationed in Destin, Florida near Pensacola.
In 2003 while living in Victoria, Texas, we decided to vacation in Destin. We visited ABE in Destin on that trip and were delighted with every aspect of the restaurant. We fell in love with the area again and moved to Navarre, Florida in 2004. About once a month we would drive to Destin to have breakfast at ABE. We got to know the owners and frequently chatted and had coffee with them. As my personality dictated, I frequently needled Tommy Green (owner of ABE Destin) about opening an ABE in Pensacola. In response, one day in mid 2011, Tommy responded, “I have one (restaurant), why don’t you?” It was like a light bulb came on. We had never given it a thought. I was retired and Linda was under high pressure as a Circulator in the Operating Room at Andrews Institute. We talked about that idea all the way home. Around 2 a.m. we concluded that it was an outstanding idea and we would go for it. Soon after, we visited ABE Franchise Headquarters in Sandestin, Florida, and the process began.
The restaurant business is not for the faint of heart. It has statistically the second highest failure rate of all businesses. Without the experience and knowledge, market study and demographic study, and financial ability, failure is a good probability. The first year is generally without profit.
Jim: Why did you decide to enter into the restaurant/franchise business?
Homer: It’s not necessary that the wheel be reinvented and a franchise is an excellent way to break into a new field. With the ABE franchise available for Pensacola, it seemed like a solid opportunity for success.
Jim: What’s the hardest part about running your own business?
Homer: Owning a business is like having a child. You own it 24-7-365. The buck stops here. Indecision is far worse than a bad decision. The business profitability takes precedent over tired, bored, sick, vacation, social life, and all other aspects. Your judgment of character enables you to surround yourself with competent help, but the ultimate decisions are yours. You live in a state of flux between astute awareness of what is happening now and what to expect in the future. How many customers will you have to schedule for and how much of what needs to be scheduled in and lead-time on each item. But, it is fun, challenging and rewarding – if and when you get it right.
Jim: What’s the one thing you wish you knew when you first opened ABE in Pensacola?
Homer: There are probably a hundred things we wish we had known when we started. The first thing that jumps out is the ability to judge others. We went through a lot of employees before we filtered down to the staff we have now and are extremely proud of. Training a replacement and then letting people go is both stressful and expensive. Through the entire process, customer service must remain top notch.
Jim: What are your business goals for the next five years?
Homer: To stay flexible. Go where the business takes us. We can’t sell what our customers don’t want to buy. We want to listen and understand and respond.
Jim: Has anyone famous visited your restaurant?
Homer: Famous people in our restaurant? Yes, if you consider two governors, senators, and the Japanese delegation to be famous! We’ve also hosted several movie personalities as well as sports figures as they re-hab from surgery at Andrews Institute. We’ve also had Hall-of-Famers and Champions who reside in this area visit us on occasion. We don’t pester them; just serve them well with the food they came for. And that is why I believe they come back.
Jim: What is your proudest achievement?
Homer: Our proudest achievement is the fact that our employees feel ownership and take pride in this restaurant. Every one of them has concern for our customers. It’s not just a job to them. It’s partly their baby too.