Famous Toastery's chocolate chip pancakes
"It reminds me of when I started at McDonalds in the '70s," says Eddie McMillan of his new business venture, opening the first Charleston area Famous Toastery. "Small family atmosphere, lots of great people to work with."
After serving in the Marine Corps, McMillan took on ownership of several South Carolina McDonald's. This was in the early years of McD's, before Szechuan sauce and hot coffee lawsuits and even McRibs. Now the largest fast food chain in the world, McDonald's is often synonymous with heartburn and late night bad decisions. Famous Toastery, on the other hand, is a relatively young franchise — with gluten free options to boot — founded in Huntersville, NC in 2005 in a house-turned-eatery by two childhood friends.
McMillan and his wife Karen gave up their local McDonald's holds about 14 months ago when Karen was having medical issues.
"I was looking at something on the stock reports," recalls McMillan. "I called the franchising manager, we went to a couple of their restaurants around Charlotte, liked the concept, and thought 'their food is outstanding.' We thought we would like to bring this to Charleston, thought it would be great for this area. It's something the area needs for breakfast/brunch/lunch."
Famous Toastery is located primarily in the Southeast, but is rapidly expanding to other parts of the country, including Colorado, northern Virginia, and Pennsylvania. They offer breakfast — ranging from make your own omelettes to buttermilk waffles to eggs benny — and lunch — think melts, wraps, burgers and even "crab rolls."
When asked why he didn't just pursue opening his own restaurant concept in Charleston, McMillan says "I had the opportunity to do that ... but the menu that these guys [Famous Toastery] have put together, their experience in restaurant and breakfast business, I don’t think I could come up with anything or hire a chef and come up with anything better." McMillan adds, "We’re going to be using local produce and eggs and seafood. We have the opportunity to do that here."
McMillan's first Famous Toastery franchise is slated to open Feb. 12 at 1319 Sam Rittenberg in the Ashley Landing shopping center. McMillan says he will be at the flagship Charleston spot every day from 7 a.m to 3 p.m., and two of his nephews will be helping him run the business.
"It is a franchise but it is family owned and operated and I think it will be great for us and the community," says McMillan. Within the next 15 to 18 months, McMillan and crew plan to open another location off of Dorchester Road and one in Summerville near the new Nexton development. "We've positioned ourselves in growing locations for the future."