Wild Eggs, a breakfast food restaurant chain that got its start in Louisville, is finally cracking the Lexington market.
Co-owner J.D. Rothberg said that the first Wild Eggs franchise will open before the end of the year in Palomar Centre, at Harrodsburg Road and Man o' War Boulevard.
"We'd love to have it by December, for the holiday season," Rothberg said.
This will be the fifth or sixth Wild Eggs, depending on the timing. There is one in Denver and three in Louisville, with another coming to Louisville around the same time as the Lexington restaurant.
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More locations in Lexington are anticipated.
Jay Hall, president of franchisee Traxx, which owns 48 Shell stations in Kentucky, said he hopes to build three or four in Lexington, including a downtown location, with 30 to 50 in the Kentucky-Carolinas-Tennessee region in the next five to 10 years.
"We fell in love with Wild Eggs. The food is fabulous, chef-inspired, made from scratch," Hall said.
"We think it's a unique niche in the restaurant industry — there's a lot of choices for lunch, dinner, late night in Lexington. Not as many choices for upscale breakfast. And the ones that are here do pretty well."
The new restaurants will all be on the same lines as the existing Wild Eggs template, with pastel decor ("You think Easter egg, a little bit," Hall said), an egg-shaped breakfast bar and a wall of "wild" eggs.
The restaurant has only been around for about eight years but has drawn high marks from customers for its fresh and inventive menu centered on breakfast and eggs.
"We do straightforward breakfast, but also some really interesting chef-driven egg dishes," Rothberg said, such as the "Kalamity Katie," named for one of his daughters.
Made with green chili Cheddar corn cakes, topped with chorizo, two poached eggs and queso fundido, pico de gallo, sour cream, green onions and avocado, it is the most popular item on the menu after the restaurant's made-to-order omelets, Rothberg said.
"Breakfast was under-served, and it always had been left to chains," he said. "Over last decade, people started to do a better job with breakfast. I just think people finally found breakfast can be fun, flavorful and interesting."
Wild Eggs will be the second upscale breakfast chain to enter the Lexington market recently. Florida-based First Watch Daytime Cafe has opened two locations since September, at 3071 Richmond Road and last month at 1080 South Broadway.
Wild Eggs serves eggs dishes, waffles, crepes, sandwiches and cocktails and coffee drinks for breakfast and lunch.
"And obviously no meal is complete without dessert, so I have the Bananas Foster Waffle," Rothberg said. "For the table. Everybody gets a spoon."