To have a conversation with Maple Street Biscuits operator Bryan Baker is to learn the business is more about the purpose than the biscuits served up daily at the downtown Alpharetta location.
Before we even start talking about the food — which everyone is talking about — the conversation centers on the restaurant’s mission of serving the community and helping those who live in the community.
“Maple Street, first and foremost, aims to serve communities by helping people who help others, and making a difference in the lives of our guests and our teams,” said Baker, whose actual title in the restaurant is community leader. “We want to be a part of [the difference by] helping churches, schools, hospitals and other nonprofits.”
The first Maple Street Biscuits opened six years ago in Jacksonville, Fla., and the concept quickly took off with customers who returned time and again for the unique twist on familiar breakfast items.
Located in the Teasley Place building, the downtown Alpharetta restaurant is the company’s 25th location — all in the Southeast. Six more are set to open, including the first one in Texas.
The menu at Maple Street Biscuits is relatively simple and sectioned into "Biscuits that Wow," "Waffles," "Sidekicks" and a handful of other items. Baker noted everything is made from scratch and without preservatives, “like it was from your grandmother's kitchen.” A microwave oven is nowhere to be found.
Among the local favorites are the Five and Dime (breaded chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese, topped with sausage gravy on a flaky biscuit) and the Squawking Goat (fried chicken breast, fried goat cheese medallion and house-made pepper jelly).
“You can't go wrong with either of those — I call them the Maple Street starter kit,” said Baker. “But we also have waffles that are really unique — including the ‘BAM! Yo Yo,’ which is two pieces of chicken with a savory waffle.”
And because everything needs a good sidekick, Baker recommends the Three-Layer Cake, which features a stack of grilled hash browns stuffed with Gouda cheese and topped with chives. Add a cooked-to-order egg and sausage gravy, and Baker says it’s the perfect meal. (Pay no attention to the calories listed alongside the menu items — this is serious comfort food, so enjoy the ride).
Although the number of Maple Street Biscuits stores is growing, the locations are not considered franchises; in fact, Maple Street actually owns the majority of sites, similar to the Chick-fil-A model.
“We are a Maple Street community store,” said Baker, who operates the Alpharetta location with his wife, Lynnsey Gardner. “Some would consider us a chain, but I like to think of us differently. Sure, the menu, ambience and experience are similar at each Maple Street, but because each community is unique, so are the teams that work there and the guests that come in.”
Like many other community leaders/general managers with Maple Street, the Bakers had no experience in the restaurant business prior to becoming part of Maple Street. Both were television reporters in the Southeast area (they met at a station in Augusta, Ga.) before being drawn to the ideals of the company and its dual mission of service and concept.
They operated a store in Florida before relocating to Alpharetta to open the fourth location in Georgia. Here, they found the perfect site, as well as home, to start their new careers.
“Our hope is to more than feed you well,” said Baker. “Everyone that works here lives around the community as well. So we are selfish in wanting to be a place that feels like home for you, because it is home for us.”