Founded with a passion for Southern flavors in 2012, Rise Biscuits and Righteous Chicken Ltd (Rise) has established itself as a renowned destination for mouth-watering biscuits and chicken creations. With a commitment to excellence, Rise offers a unique dining experience through its waitstaff-free environment and efficient service line. From its fluffy, made-from-scratch biscuits bursting with savory ingredients to its tenderized, brined, and fried-to-perfection Righteous Chicken, every bite is a testament to its dedication to quality and flavor. Brian Wiles, COO, provides an overview of Rise’s journey.
“Rise will be celebrating its 11th anniversary at the end of November, 2023. Initially, we were a biscuit and donut shop crafting these items in-house, with great success in Durham, North Carolina. Our growth journey led us to franchising locally in North Carolina, which prompted us to simplify the brand by shifting the focus away from donuts. While we still serve some donuts, we primarily specialize in crafting freshly made buttermilk and savory biscuits. In addition, we offer high-quality breakfast items, including eggs, bacon, and our signature fried chicken, which is made from a brined four-ounce chicken breast and served on biscuits or Martin’s potato rolls. We’ve also introduced chicken boxes, featuring items like chicken fingers, fries, and a choice of sauce.
Chix & Grito
“Recently, we rolled out a significant menu evolution, which includes more biscuit options, chicken sandwiches, and the addition of protein boxes for those who prefer not to have their meal on a biscuit. A unique addition is our take on ‘shrimp and grits,’ which we named ‘Chix & Grits,’ where we serve grits in a box alongside diced fried chicken, bacon crumbles, green onions, and Cheddar cheese. In summary, we transitioned from a donut and biscuit focus to concentrate on our Southern biscuits and signature Southern fried chicken,” he begins.
Like the company itself, Rise’s products have a rich history marked by innovation and multiple menu changes. “When Rise was first established, we used to change our offerings daily, embracing variety. However, as we expanded, maintaining consistency became challenging. Having the same recipe being prepared by ten different chefs resulted in ten variations, drifting from what was most successful. To make things easier, we now rely on our partner, US Foods, who provides us with ready-to-serve products, such as our hot honey butter. This way, we can focus our energy on the chicken side of limited-time offerings (LTOs). We make sure to find what best complements our chicken and keep our menu concise. I would say that our innovation process is more marketing-driven than consumer-driven, influenced by market trends and guidance from our marketing team, Splinter Group, who helped us introduce innovations such as ‘Chix & Grits’ to the menu. It’s all about staying attuned to trends and keeping our offerings exciting,” explains Brian.
Brian discusses the process of Rise’s recent introduction of iced coffee products and how they’ve helped boost the business. “Previously, we had never really focused on our beverage program with our offerings primarily consisting of bottled drinks. We have shifted away from fountain drinks due to the nature of our business, which primarily revolves around takeaway orders and pickups. However, incorporating iced coffee into our lineup was an obvious choice. Since we have always used high-quality coffee, introducing iced coffee was a seamless addition. This expansion enhances our beverage offerings, particularly as coffee beverages play a significant role in our future plans. Given the considerable foot traffic we experience, it’s important to note that offering cappuccinos or mocha drinks as add-ons can drive biscuit sales and contribute to higher overall revenue and average check amounts. Throughout our brand’s multiple evolutions, we have taken the time to understand our position in the market. As we move forward, our focus on the beverage program will become increasingly refined, aligning with our overarching strategy and objectives,” he enlightens.
Maintaining good relationships with vendors and suppliers has always been a top priority for Rise. “For us, building strong relationships based on trust and mutual understanding is key. Our partnership with US Foods has been longstanding, as our founder, Tom, had previous experience working with them, creating a solid foundation for collaboration. When it comes to Supply Caddy, another of our suppliers, the attraction was immediate. Although we initially met at a summit, it was the positive experience and their willingness to cater to our specific needs that stood out. Supply Caddy has successfully provided us with a 25-pound bag, deli wrap for our sandwiches, and a new, smaller donut box, which will be introduced in the coming weeks. Moreover, they have developed an eight-pound bag tailored to our specific requirements. Supply Caddy’s exceptional communication and understanding of our needs have made them an excellent and trusted partner. While maintaining strong vendor relationships is crucial, we also prioritize listening to our consumers and franchisees. Their feedback guides our decision-making process, ensuring that we make choices that align with the needs and expectations of our brand. It’s important to strike a balance between vendor partnerships and meeting the demands of our stakeholders to drive progress and success,” Brian states.
Looking ahead, Brian shares his aspirations for the expansion and future developments of Rise. “While I would love for us to have 100 stores in five years, I’m currently setting my sights on reaching 50 locations. It’s an achievable goal, but we recognize that the next couple of years will be challenging, especially considering the current economic climate in the US. Consumers are experiencing pricing fatigue, and they are becoming more cautious about their spending habits. To overcome this, we need to be smart about our labor management, cost of goods, and waste reduction. Additionally, we must maintain the integrity of our brand and focus on speed of service, beverage development, and technology integration,” he ends.
By nurturing trusted partnerships and optimizing operations through innovation, Rise is poised to delight many more customers on its ambitious journey.