ARCHIVED  December 1, 1996

Egg & I to crack Denver, Colorado Springs markets

FORT COLLINS – Business is sizzling for Rayno Seaser.The seasoned restaurateur, along with his long-time partners, is guiding his locally, privately-owned The Egg & I restaurants through fast growth in an increasingly competitive market.
The growth – one new restaurant this year with more scheduled in the future – also includes plans to franchise the popular breakfast and lunch eatery. The Egg & I originally opened in Fort Collins in 1987. Subsequent restaurants in Greeley and Loveland were followed by this fall’s opening in Cheyenne.
“There’s so much growth in Northern Colorado,” Seaser said. “I don’t think the service industry can keep up with it.”
Still in the process of establishing the latest restaurant in Cheyenne, Seaser and his partners also are scouting other sites in Longmont after plans to build a new restaurant at a previously selected location fell through.
The growth also includes venturing out of Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming. A Colorado Springs site is planned as well.
“We’re also thinking of taking a leap into the big pond and going into southeast Denver,” Seaser said.
Growing the business is exciting but bittersweet, Seaser said.
“Growth is a double-edged sword,” he said. “We like to be in a growing community, but like so many others, we came here to get away from that.”
Seaser and his wife and business partner, Patty, came to Fort Collins from Phoenix after tiring of the burgeoning growth there in the mid-1980s.
“Growth is not without its sacrifice,” he said, “and that saddens me.”
While the Seasers hold the majority of The Egg & I restaurants, the ownership team also includes Jeff Nowak, operations manager, and partners Mike Moriarty and Mark Agnew.
Part of The Egg & I’s formula for success, Seaser said, is its employees. Indeed, Roger Owen and Alan Long, who direct kitchen operations, have been with Seaser since the beginning.
Still, doing business in a fast-growing region makes it difficult to maintain good employees.
“It’s sad so many national franchises are coming in,” Seaser said. ” It makes it harder for us to find sites and employees. We operate our business from our hearts. Those companies operate strictly from their pocketbooks. They make it harder for us to do business.”
The Seasers and their partners have positioned themselves to target cities of 50,000 to 100,000. But even in such markets, competition is keen. Le Peep Grill has already opened this year in Fort Collins and Greeley.
“There’s a tremendous amount of competition,” Seaser said. “But we’re not so driven by dollars as we are by talented management. They want to grow and like the opportunity to be involved in new stores.”
Depending on real estate variables, it typically takes from $150,000 to $250,000 to open a new Egg & I.
While the groundwork has been laid to franchise The Egg & I, Seaser said he is “being real conservative” about those plans.
“I’m in a growth process, and I definitely see the pace picking up,” he said. “Still, timing is the key. I’ll wait for opportunities to present themselves.”
In addition to planning restaurants in Longmont, Colorado Springs and possibly Denver, Seaser also has considered Laramie and Scottsbluff. Boulder is another possibility, but at the bottom of the list because of the number of restaurants already established there.
One of the most popular, Lucille’s, is owned by Fletcher Richards. He also opened a Lucille’s in Fort Collins this year with a partner.
“There is a lot of opportunity in the upscale breakfast market,” Richards said, commenting on Seaser’s plans.
“I think they (The Egg & I) do a good job,” he added.
Richards himself also wants to continue growing his business, with plans to do a restaurant in Longmont in the near future.
“I’ve looked into franchising,” he said, “but it didn’t seem to make sense for me.”
Instead, he hopes to enter new markets with partners. Richards is considering other university communities across the country with similar demographics to Boulder and Fort Collins.
“I think it’s a great secret, this gourmet breakfast niche,” he said, noting that The Egg & I also has been able to capture some of that market.
He emphasized that creativity and quality are what set the locally owned restaurants apart from the national chains, and that it must be maintained in order to hold market shares.
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FORT COLLINS – Business is sizzling for Rayno Seaser.The seasoned restaurateur, along with his long-time partners, is guiding his locally, privately-owned The Egg & I restaurants through fast growth in an increasingly competitive market.
The growth – one new restaurant this year with more scheduled in the future – also includes plans to franchise the popular breakfast and lunch eatery. The Egg & I originally opened in Fort Collins in 1987. Subsequent restaurants in Greeley and Loveland were followed by this fall’s opening in Cheyenne.
“There’s so much growth in Northern Colorado,” Seaser said. “I don’t think the service industry…

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