Burney Jennings, 54, Biscuit King
If you want to know what kind of business Biscuitville FRESH SOUTHERN® is, consider this.
The region’s most beloved breakfast restaurant has 54 locations in two states, and CEO Burney Jennings is a familiar face in every location.
“I get out into the restaurants. I like to meet people. I don’t like to hide in the office,” he says, by way of explanation. “This is a people business. If you don’t like people, you won’t make it in this business. It’s not just about the numbers.”
Burney understands the importance of that personal touch in a service industry, where so much loyalty – from customers and employees – depends on quality one-on-one interactions. It’s about people.
The Elon University graduate has spent two decades at the helm of Biscuitville, but he’s been working there much longer than that. He jokes that his employment date is September 1963 – the same month he was born. Burney’s the second-generation leader of a family business started by his father Maurice more than 50 years ago.
Burney worked in the restaurants as a teen – back when the business included Pizzaville restaurants. (He has new administrative team members start out by working a few days in a restaurant. “It’s important to work in the restaurant. You have to experience that to understand what it’s all about. We require it,” he says.)
During his tenure, Burney has overseen a successful transition in the company’s branding to “Fresh Southern,” which included the addition of a new lunch menu and an emphasis on the business’s locally produced ingredients. The flour comes from a Sanford Milling Co. in Henderson, NC. The honey comes from Golding Farms in Winston-Salem. The country ham is custom-cut from Suncrest Farms in Wilkesboro, NC. Many suppliers are family-owned, multi-generational businesses. That’s important to him. “This isn’t your typical quick service restaurant,” Burney says. “We are a family business. For me, you get a different level of service in a family business.”
Some things at Biscuitville are always going to stay the same. Great-Grandma’s biscuit recipe, for instance. And the restaurants’ 2 p.m. closing time. “Our employees enjoy a Life After 2 culture, whether they are home in the afternoon with family or going to school. That’s an important quality of life value for our employees,” , Burney says.
But he will make one exception: once a year, for Breakfast After Dark, where 20 percent of the proceeds for every meal purchased goes to support participating local schools and nonprofit organizations. This year it will be Tue., Oct. 17, from 5-8 pm. Check out the Biscuitville website to see which community organizations your favorite Biscuitville will support.