CORRECTION: Friday sted Thursday
One week after training its staff of 30, Eggs Up Grill held its ribbon cutting ceremony Friday morning on Mt. Zion Road. The restaurant was full at 10:30 a.m., with a cheerful crowd that included representatives of the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce, District 4 Commissioner DeMont Davis, Candidate for sheriff Chris Storey, Morrow Economic Development Director Rochelle Brown Dennis, and others.
Antwan and Jeremy Aiken, who are partners and co-owners, are experienced franchise owners who saw the community’s desire for a decent sit-down restaurant and made the move.
“Funny story,” Jeremy Aiken said. “We went to Charleston, South Carolina, we went out to find someplace to eat, and one of the places we came to was Eggs Up Grill. And we liked the food, we liked the atmosphere, and I was like, ‘I wonder if they franchise, man.’ It was just a whim.”
So Antwan made inquiries.
“They had this thing called Egg Day,” Jeremy said, “and it’s basically like an interest meeting. Getting people to come and try the food, and if you’re interested, you buy in, basically. And we did it.”
The atmosphere is cheerful, with tall ceilings, huge windows, and a light, airy feeling throughout. Booths, chairs, and counters are comfortably spaced out. It’s the kind of place you can find all over North Decatur, Midtown, perhaps in Fayette County—but you don’t have to drive a long way to enjoy it.
“We own two Subways in southwest Atlanta, and we were just looking to expand to a different concept,” Antwan Aiken told The Clayton Crescent. “Brunch is popular right now, brunch is where everybody is going, so it just seemed like a no-brainer. When we were looking at communities, we wanted to go into a market that didn’t have a concept similar to us. So Morrow seemed like that market to go into.”
The staff is new and still learning but is up to the task.
“Most of our employees, I would say 90 percent, live within five to ten miles of our location, Antwan said. “One of the models that Eggs Up Grill has is neighbors serving neighbors, so people in the community being able to serve other people in the community, we’ve done that,”
Service, not servility, is showcased here. The wait staff and greeters are personable and friendly, not overbearing or inattentive. Waiting tables is an art, and Eggs Up is giving its staff the right training.
“We have family and friends, which I guess is the equivalent of a soft opening last Saturday,” Antwan said, “and they killed it. So we hired a lot of people who had some cooking experience, some people who didn’t, so we have a strong team that’s a mix of experienced and unexperienced. Training was intense, but we built that team effort into training. Training was six consecutive days, so they really had to get to know each other during training, and yeah—they’re a team.”
It’s not fast food, but you also won’t wait forever to be served. The crew is relatively new but Antwan and Jeremy are hands-on, expediting the line as plates come up in the window.
The menu features a wide range of breakfast, brunch, and lunch items at different price points. You can go all-out with crab cakes on garlic toast with Hollandaise sauce and a mimosa, or you can enjoy a cup of robust black coffee and a quality fluffy biscuit if you’re on a budget. And lunch is also on the menu: you can order a burger, a melt, or a salad if you’re not in the mood for a three- or four-egg omelette.
Clayton County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Valencia Williamson told the packed house, “Enhancing the quality of life is very important to our community, but also you mentioned giving jobs to young folks who are out looking for opportunities to grow and to learn. I can’t think of a better industry to do that in than the service industry. So thank you for everything that you are doing, as an employer and as a business here in Clayton County. We’re looking forward to continuing our partnership.”
The Aikens also run a charitable foundation, The Aiken Foundation, which invests in local minority. LGBTQ+, and other marginalized communities.
“We are fortunate to host substantial fundraisers that assist local charities, providing more opportunities and eliminating barriers,” Antwan said. “Our motto is ‘reaching back, moving forward’ to create equity for minority groups through charitable giving and community support.”
What advice does Jeremy have for people who might want to own their own business?
“I would say save. Save, save, save. Antwan and I are big savers,” he said. “And it came in handy.” With a franchise, “some out of pocket things you don’t have to do, so that’s really good. And, before you apply for bank loans, they like to see money in your savings, checking account. And if you really want to do it, and you really love food and you really want to be in this industry, just keep trying. We applied to every bank that you could think of in Atlanta, and all it took was that one bank that said, ‘Okay, we’ll give you a chance.’ And now, all the banks want us,” he laughed.
Eggs Up Grill is open daily from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Find them at 1900A Mt. Zion Road in the freestanding shops in front of Best Buy at Southlake Pavilion Shopping Center (near Nam Dae Mun). Eggs Up also offers online ordering, takeout, delivery, and catering.
Want to learn more about starting your own business? Check out Clayton State University’s College of Business and its Small Business Development Center or the UGA Small Business Development Center at Morehouse College.
Need help with personal finance? Try Clayton State’s Personal Finance Ed2Go class or search “personal finance” on YouTube.