Danny and Earl McPherson, owners of King Neptune Restaurant in Wrightsville Beach, have opened the doors to their newest project, Brunches, at Mayfaire Community Center.
The McPhersons have ambitious plans for the growth of the new restaurant, with a second Wilmington location already under construction on Randall Parkway near Flying Machine Brewing Co. That location, which will be slightly larger than the Mayfaire space, is expected to open in early 2020.
The Brunches business plan includes a fairly rapid expansion both locally and beyond. The brothers say their goal is to double the number of stores each year.
“I believe in chasing dreams more than anything else,” Danny McPherson said. “And by setting such a high goal, it will force me to expand upon the things I know and the things I don’t know.”
A key element of the McPhersons’ business plan is the creation of career paths for employees to advance within the company.
The brothers say one of their biggest struggles has been with staffing. They say that people are drawn to the hospitality industry for many reasons, but often think of these jobs as temporary. Servers in a restaurant, for example, can earn a very decent living, but often there is little chance for advancement, or access to benefits such as health insurance or retirement plans.
“When it comes to the restaurant business, many times I feel bad that there isn’t a more defined path to building a career within the industry,” Danny McPherson said. “We’ve had so many talented people work for us that love the pace and interaction of the restaurant industry but end up leaving for a corporate job that most of the time they are not happy with. There seems to be a stigma within our industry that many are looked down upon for being career service industry workers.
“Our goal is to provide a company that helps break that stigma. By providing our employees with benefits, flex scheduling, retirement accounts and the ability to work into profit sharing and ownership roles, we believe that we can provide our team the ability to hold their heads high and be proud to be working within the service industry.”
The McPhersons said they believe that building career paths and creating a new model for success benefits the employees as well as the company. Their philosophy is simple: If employees are happy with their work/life balance and are financially secure, they are more likely to stay with the company and contribute to its growth and success.
“The most challenging part of our business is finding and retaining the best people to be a part of our team,” Danny McPherson said. “I’m not able to greet every customer, or take their order, or cook their meal. I have to rely on my team to ensure that our business is successful.”
Breakfast and brunch restaurants are on the rise in Wilmington. National franchises Eggs Up Grill and First Watch are scheduled to open soon, and independently owned restaurants such as Cast Iron Kitchen, Keg and Egg and Eternal Sunshine Café often have lines out the door, particularly on weekend mornings. But the McPhersons say they welcome the competition.
“I think as a whole we are seeing more small business startups in Wilmington,” Danny McPherson said. “When people look into what type of business to start, many times they are intrigued by the restaurant industry and with the growing popularity of breakfast across the country, it’s only natural that we see more breakfast spots opening up. I’m personally glad to see it and love the competition. It’s another element that forces us to bring our A game every day.”
Each dish at Brunches is cooked to order, using fresh and local ingredients whenever possible.
The McPhersons plan to utilize customer feedback regarding menu items over the next couple of months to help refine the current menu. They will also continue to explore the addition of several new vegan and gluten-free options.
Brunches plans to be open for dinner on Thursday and Friday evenings, with drink and appetizer specials and occasional live music. It also plans to host after-hours events, such as jazz nights and wine tastings, and the space is available for private events during off hours.
As for King Neptune, the brothers say it was their first major jump into the restaurant industry, and it will always be near and dear to their hearts.
“We’re fortunate to have an established business that allows us the financial security to be very meticulous about our rollout of this new concept,” Danny McPherson said. “We need to build the respect of this community in order to succeed. We will continue to pour ourselves into King Neptune just as much as we have over the last few years, and we have a few fun changes in the works for the 2020 tourist season at the beach that we are currently working on.”
Brunches is located at 6800 Parker Farm Drive and is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week, with dinner hours on Thursday and Friday.