Carrie Rengers

Sasnak Management’s HomeGrown breakfast concept debuts

Sasnak Management’s newest restaurant concept is a home-grown one, literally and figuratively.

HomeGrown is named in part for its focus on using locally sourced ingredients and products, but it’s also the first new concept the Wichita company has created since it debuted Carlos O’Kelly’s 36 years ago.

The breakfast restaurant – “a daytime eatery,” as its tagline says – opens at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday at 2835 N. Maize Road in NewMarket North. If all goes well, it’ll be the first of a chain of HomeGrown restaurants.

“We’re going to let west Wichita tell us if we did good or not or what we can do better,” Sasnak president Jon Rolph says. “If they like it, the sky’s the limit.”

He adds, though, “If you don’t get the first one right, there’s never a second.”

Sasnak bought the Good Egg at Bradley Fair in 2015.

“We wanted to learn it and see if we liked it as much as we thought we would,” Rolph says. “We went all over the country and ate at every breakfast place we could.”

Rolph says he wants HomeGrown to be an industry leader.

“How can we do this as well or better than anybody else?” he says he asked.

He found a variety of answers that add up to what he calls a premium breakfast experience in a modern farmhouse atmosphere.

There are small touches such as fresh rosemary pots on every table and antique cutting boards that decorate a wall.

There are high-tech flourishes, such as a machine that juices multiple oranges a minute.

“This makes the best mimosa you will ever have in your entire life,” Rolph says.

There’s a bar in the restaurant that will serve a variety of morning-themed cocktails, such as Jamaican-Me Crazy Coffee, which is dark rum, Kahlua and coffee with whipped cream topped with a chocolate-covered coffee bean.

That along with ingredients and the dishes they go in create a different sort of breakfast experience, Rolph says.

“People are used to diner food. The cheapest eggs that people can buy and put on a plate and serve someone.”

Rolph is using cage-free eggs.

HomeGrown has a focus on scratch cooking, from biscuits and Hollandaise sauce to jams and honey butter.

Rolph says he’s using local products whenever possible, from his tabletops to the tea he serves.

“It’s coming back into the Wichita economy.”

One of HomeGrown’s biggest focuses is on what Rolph calls “cultivating kindness,” a phrase that is on employees’ T-shirts and will hang on a sign over the bar as well.

“We can create a nurturing, exciting place to work,” Rolph says.

He says he wants employees to know that “if we pour kindness and generosity and light into people’s lives when they start their day, they are more likely to do that when they leave here in the lives they touch.”

“You get to see all the lives we impact.”

The restaurant will be open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Along with opening HomeGrown on Wednesday, Rolph also is opening Sasnak’s 20th Carlos O’Kelly’s in Iowa City, Iowa, on Thursday.

“The excitement helps push you through the exhaustion.”

He says Beth Tully, Sasnak’s new director of brand innovation, is helping bring a level of excellence to the company– not to mention an amazing homemade Pop-Tart to the HomeGrown menu.

“She just added a really fresh breath of air on our team.”

He says there are other staff members helping who have been with the company for more than 25 years.

Rolph says HomeGrown and the Good Egg are both premium restaurant experiences.

“There’s an evolution going on in this segment,” he says.

If HomeGrown works, and the east side seems interested, Rolph likely will remodel the Good Egg to become HomeGrown.

Rolph says creating a restaurant from scratch is a big deal for him.

“I don’t know how many times in my life I’ll get an opportunity to do this.”

His father, Sasnak chairman David Rolph, says there’s a loyalty that comes with breakfast restaurants.

“People have their habit of going places, and they don’t throw you over for the next pretty girl on the block. But now we’re the new pretty girl.”

He says he’s impressed with how HomeGrown has turned out, and he thinks people will give the new gal a chance.

Jon Rolph says he’s confident about HomeGrown’s future.

“There’s something in your gut you can tell when you’ve got something that you think is really going to work, and it really feels that way.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers

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