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Charlotte: Flying Biscuit Cafe - No Bueno

lynnlato Oct 26, 2007 12:30 PM

I've been anxiously awaiting the opening of The Flying Biscuit Cafe @ Stonecrest in South Charlotte. I stopped by recently and they weren't opened but the friendly gentleman there gave me a menu and chatted w/ me. I met a woman from Atlanta who said that I'll love the place and she was excited it was coming here. The menu looks interesting. Breakfast served all day, lots of eggs, sausage, turkey bacon, black bean cakes, whole grain rolls, muffins, pancakes, etc. The concept seemed charming. A lady named Delia opened the first Flying Biscuit in Atlanta after working many years in the industry as a waitress, etc. They tell this endearing tale on the back of their menus about Miss Delia and the opening day of her cafe and how they ran out of biscuits.

So opening day here in Charlotte was Tuesday. I went in today, Friday. I know that you are supposed to give a place a couple of months, to work out the kinks, before you go in but I just couldn't wait! I even waited until 1:45, for the lunch crowd to die down, before going in. It was packed! The staff was friendly and directed me to the bar area to place my to-go order. The place is whimsically decorated. Bright colors walls, crazy table cloths (mats), and stars and clouds and animals painted on the acoustic ceiling tiles. It was cute, but their was a definite commercial vibe. I ordered the 3B chicken sandwich and the "Side of Love" black bean cakes. I had a choice of salad, soup or potatoes w/ the sandwich and ordered the salad. I also had a diet coke. Bill totaled $15.14. I waited a short time and was given my food and left. I had a very short drive home. I opened the two to-go containers and was completely unimpressed w/ the presentation. The black bean cakes looked down right gross. Two thin black & brown cakes sprinkled w/ large pieces of bermuda onion w/ three to-go containers containing feta cheese, tomatillo salsa and sour cream. They tasted okay, but I probably wouldn't order them again... no yum factor. The sandwich was packaged w/ a side of potatoes, not what I had ordered. No salad. The potatoes were very obviously frozen and had a hint of rosemary but were similiar to the diced fried potatoes you'd get at IHOP. Ick. The sandwich had a large, grilled chicken breast w/ a sprinkle of fresh basil, crumbled blue cheese and two strips of turkey bacon on a whole grain bun. Bland and boring. The only thing I tasted was the blue cheese. The meal came with a biscuit and a small container of cranberry apple butter. The biscuit was again forgettable and the butter was not bad.

The other food I saw going out was equally unimpressive in appearance. Everything just looked so commercial. Such a shame b/c when I read the menu I wanted to try one of everything.

I'll give it another go in a few weeks, but I'm fairly certain I build it up much bigger in my mind then what they are in reality. I'm curious about what others experience was?

  1. carolinadawg Oct 26, 2007 12:46 PM

    Thanks for the info. I must say I'm not surprised to hear of your experience, as FBC was bought in May, 2006 by Raving Brands, the corporate restaurant concept company that brought us Moe's, Shanes Rib Shack, etc. and they are now franchising them. In its day, Flying Biscuit was a wonderful place, but even before being sold, it was going downhill.

    1. southernitalian Oct 26, 2007 12:56 PM

      My first reaction to your review was that the commercial, phony concept will be a huge hit in the Stonecrest area where it will blend in seamlessly with everything else down there. But upon seeing the price you paid, I don't know how well it will do. It has to compete against that other corporate gem, Nothing But Noodles. Honestly, if I'm down there and hungry, I get a pretzel at Target.

      1 Reply
      1. re: southernitalian
        lynnlato Oct 26, 2007 03:26 PM

        You just cracked me up... "other corporate gem, Nothing But Noodles"... HA! Yeah, ya know it was a tad pricey but I imagine it will still do well. It seems as though most folks in these parts have dull taste buds.

        I didn't know, as carolinadawg mentioned, that they were bought by a franchise company. But it makes perfect sense. I read some of the old posts about the Atlanta locations and it sounds as though it was good once upon a time but the money makers ruined it. Too bad.

      2. p
        potterybliss Oct 26, 2007 06:34 PM

        I live in Atlanta and remember when the original Flying Biscuit opened. While it had it's ups and downs, it was always one of our reliable choices for inexpensive, non-chain meals. We were totally bummed when it was sold, especially to Raving Brands, a company that seems hell bent on mowing over the independently owned restaurants in our city. Your experience sounds similar to what the 'Biscuit offers in Atlanta today. What a drag.

        6 Replies
        1. re: potterybliss
          webvanman Oct 26, 2007 07:12 PM

          what other restaurants does Raving Brands own? I think the owner might possibly be from NC.

          1. re: webvanman
            HopDevil Oct 29, 2007 11:40 AM

            Raving Brands owns Mama Fu's, Planet Smoothie, Shane's Rib Shack, Flying Biscuit, Boneheads, PJ's Coffee, and Monkey Joe's. Moe's was their biggest concept, but they sold it to Focus Brands, another Atlanta company that also owns Carvel, Cinnabon, Seattle's Best Coffee, and Schlotzsky's.

            I believe Martin Sprock, the head of Raving Brands, is in fact from NC. UNC grad, IIRC.

            1. re: HopDevil
              webvanman Oct 29, 2007 12:06 PM

              Thanks HopDevil. Thats what I had thought but just wanted confirmation. That guy has made a killing in the restaurant business. I think he started out in Wilmington/WB area.

              1. re: HopDevil
                concordcourtney Oct 29, 2007 02:27 PM

                Not that it matters too much, but Seattle's Best has been owned by Starbucks since 2003.

                1. re: concordcourtney
                  HopDevil Oct 30, 2007 09:02 AM

                  True. I should have said Focus Brands is the franchisor of Seattle's best in some markets.

                  1. re: HopDevil
                    concordcourtney Oct 31, 2007 09:16 AM

                    Ah, I didn't know that part myself. :) But I'm a Seattle transplant and I remember when Starbucks bought Seattle's Best. It caused a HUGE kerfuffle at the time, which is why that strange bit of knowledge sticks with me.

          2. c
            Cutter Oct 26, 2007 07:27 PM

            Hate to admit it but we were going to Nothing But Noodles and got invited in for the soft opening on Monday. I had the scrambled eggs and my wife had one egg over easy. Both were overcooked. Outside of that, the person who said it was like an IHOP was spot on. Commercial comfort food, no different that Dennys or Bob Evans. The service was great though.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Cutter
              southernitalian Oct 30, 2007 06:57 AM

              Please be nice to Nothing But Noodles! I regret my earlier post. I actually know the owners of the Charlotte franchise and they are in the midst of a medical emergency you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. God bless them!

            2. a
              atlantanative Oct 30, 2007 05:35 AM

              Yes, I remember when the original FB opened and it was a good, fun place to gather and get some homestyle grub and catch up with the local neighborhood folks - as with many things "progress" has taken its toll

              1. jboeke Oct 31, 2007 09:45 AM

                Sorry to the Charlotte folks for getting thew new franchised version of FB. If you frequented the original in Atlanta, you could almost watch the downslide over the years. However, as my husband would point out, there aren't many places you can get beer and pancakes for dinner on a Friday night. Beyond that, there's really no reason to go, but if you do, stick with the breakfast food. I regrettably tried the turkey meatloaf on the same night my husband was enjoying his beer & pancakes...the word "loaf" was never more fitting.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jboeke
                  lynnlato Oct 31, 2007 11:53 AM

                  Ha! You know, part of the allure for me was the idea of eggs and wine. Two of my favorite things! Actually I was enjoying the idea of a leisurely breakfast w/ a girlfriend and wine, sparkling, whatever. Provided they did the eggs, breakfast items and pastries well. Now that's a concept that would rock! My husband, too, would like beer and pancakes.

                2. p
                  potterybliss Oct 31, 2007 05:39 PM

                  We ended up at the original (now franchised) FB in Atlanta over the weekend for dinner after a play in the neighborhood. I went in not expecting much, but left pleasantly surprised. Our meals were very good - oven fried chicken, turkey meatloaf, and love cakes. Love cakes were better than we have had in a long time. Maybe there's hope. FB will never be what it was back in the day, but this last time, it wasn't bad at all.

                  1. p
                    pantherfan72 Nov 2, 2007 08:06 PM

                    I was in last week, and I must say I don't care who owns it, I had something called a meggican or mexican wrap with a side of grits. Best grits I've ever had. Food was great and I'll be back. Southernitalian- that was hilarious- a pretzel at Target!!

                    1. v
                      valdez62 Nov 14, 2007 06:15 PM

                      Not surprising considering the original Flying Biscuit in Candler Park pales in comparison to what it has been in years gone by. The love is just not there like it used to be. Maybe it's too much concentration on formulating franchise-able recipes, or that it's resting on its laurels (like many long-loved dining institutions) but it's just not what it used to be. This is even more apparent in the outposts. These days, when you get down to it, they are just another breakfast joint. Their vegetarian offerings and variations on the standards were sorely lacking in Atlanta when they opened, plus the quality of their biscuits was wonderful, but those things are not so unique anymore. Also, a large part of the appeal was the atmosphere and neighborhood feel of the original and that is hard to replicate in a franchise. I wish them luck and hope they do well because even as they are, they are a much better option than the local Denny's but I can't imagine that they will be able to recreate the experience of the original that spawned it in the new locations.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: valdez62
                        lynnlato Nov 15, 2007 02:38 AM

                        Very sad. I can tell that it was once a neat neighborhood joint but, as you mentioned, the corporate money-makers ruined what made it unique and special so that it could be mass marketed. So sad.

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