BROKEN YOLK CAFE
Owner: John Gelastopoulos
Revenue: Approx. $2 million per location annually (32 locations total)
No. of Employees: 30-35 employees at the corporate Pacific Beach location, 10 at corporate headquarters
Headquarters: Pacific Beach
Year Founded: 1979 (acquired by Gelastopoulos in 1993)
Company Description: San Diego-based breakfast and lunch restaurant chain.
For John Gelastopoulos, faking it till he made it was key to the initial success of his restaurant, Broken Yolk Cafe.
This week, 59-year-old Gelastopoulos will be opening the 32nd Broken Yolk franchised restaurant, this time in Spring, Texas. Each location makes approximately $2 million in revenue annually, according to Gelastopoulos. There are 15 Broken Yolks located throughout San Diego County, as well as in Northern California, Arizona, Florida and Illinois. In the next few months, Gelastopoulos, with the help of his 10 or so corporate team members, will open three more Broken Yolk Cafes: one in Las Vegas, a second location in Arizona and an additional one in Fullerton.
It all started in Pacific Beach, where he purchased the first location in 1993, enticed by its breakfast and lunch hours. And, although he’d been working in the back-of-the-house of various San Diego restaurants since migrating from Greece at the age of 17, as well as moonlighting as a restaurant broker by day, he didn’t quite know what to expect.
Drawing a Crowd
After a couple of weekends with a pretty empty dining hall and not very many patrons coming through the door, Gelastopoulos decided he’d call a few friends and invite them to eat at his restaurant for free. He’d come out while the customers were eating, shake hands with them, thank them for coming and ask them to come again next week and eat, again, on the house. He repeated the same promotional tactic every weekend for six weeks, providing comp meals for guests, and, before he knew it, the Broken Yolk had lines out the door with random customers wanting to know what all the hype was about.
That momentum is still going.
“Necessity creates creativity,” said Gelastopoulos. “Without knowing anything about marketing, I created that momentum. People attract people, and, although I wasn’t making money the first few months, it all worked out. You have to take risks. That is what got things going for us.”
Before owning Broken Yolk, Gelastopoulos didn’t know much about running a business. He started off working as a dishwasher at restaurants around town and moved up to the hot line while attending school. In 1993, Gelastopoulos got his real estate license and became a broker, selling restaurants. That’s when he came across Broken Yolk Cafe. At first, he was the seller. But, after convincing the owner, he became the buyer.