Greg Cutchall of Cutchall Management Co. said he plans to open the first of several First Watch “daytime cafe” locations in Omaha come mid-November.
First Watch, a chain based in Sarasota, Fla., serves breakfast, brunch and lunch and closes at 2:30 p.m. Cutchall said he is in final negotations for a development agreement that calls for four to six locations in Omaha, Council Bluffs and Lincoln, with three slated to open within the next three years.
Cutchall is also in final negotiations to put the first location at 72nd and Pacific Streets, inside the former Burger Star restaurant, which Cutchall also owns and closed Sunday. He's looking for a new location for Burger Star.
The Omaha area has seen a flurry of breakfast and lunch chains entering the market and expanding.
The Egg & I has six Nebraska locations, three in Omaha, two in Lincoln and one in Kearney, with two to open soon, one in Bellevue in September and one in Papillion in November. Owners Mark Agnew, Brett Weis and Josh Erickson have plans for three more in Nebraska and are scouting real estate in Iowa, where they have an agreement for 10 stores, Agnew said.
Similarly, Jimmy's Egg, founded in Oklahoma City by former Omaha railroad inspector Loc Le, has four locations in Omaha, with a fifth on the way, although a location has not been selected after a deal fell through in Papillion, General Manager Jeff Hanselmann said. Le and business partner Jim Burke also are looking at expanding into Bellevue, Lincoln and Council Bluffs, he said.
Aneel Taj, who owns three Omaha Le Peep locations with his wife, Hope, said the pair do not have immediate plans to expand the breakfast and lunch chain but are considering whether to add more locations eventually. “I guess there's room for everybody,” he said of the recent growth in Omaha area breakfast chains.
Cutchall said he had been looking at a breakfast-lunch concept to bring to Omaha for a few years because that segment of the restaurant industry is growing. He already owns 50 restaurants in five states under seven different trade names, including Famous Dave's, Paradise Bakery and Cafe, Rock Bottom Brewery, Sonic and Domino's Pizza and Twin Peaks.
NPD Group, a New York market research company, in 2010 reported that breakfasts were accounting for more than half the traffic growth in U.S. restaurants. The analyst forecast double-digit growth for quick-service restaurant breakfasts through 2019 — a time period when the industry as a whole is expected to remain relatively flat.
Cutchall said he selected First Watch because “they tend to do more lunch business than the typical breakfast-lunch concept.”
Cutchall said he thought the daytime population near 72nd and Pacific Streets was underserved in the breakfast and lunch areas, with Bergen Mercy Medical Center and the Nebraska Furniture Mart nearby and Gordmans' corporate headquarters under construction at Aksarben Village. He said about 70 percent of Burger Star's sales were made over the lunch hour, which spurred him to move the restaurant and make way for First Watch's first location.
Cutchall is still on the hunt for a new spot for Burger Star, he said, but he hopes to locate it somewhere with more evening traffic in a smaller space, offering a larger beer slection or locating next door to a place with craft beer options. “We think that will help us draw nighttime business,” he said.
For First Watch, he plans to expand the former Burger Star space into the neighboring retail bay, formerly occupied by the Donut Professor, which closed June 1. Demolition and remodeling work is expected to begin within the next few weeks, Cutchall said.