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SBA Loans Helps Business Grow

Photo of JD Rothberg, CEO of Wild Eggs

Brief description of the business:  J.D. Rothberg and Shane Hall, co-founders of Eggheadz, LLC (DBA Wild Eggs), took a Rothberg family tradition (“Always start your day with a good breakfast”) and developed that practice into a highly successful restaurant group. Wild Eggs offers a vast array of creative breakfast, brunch and lunch fare, including pancakes, crepes, soups, sandwiches and other favorite breakfast basics. The pricing is very reasonable, with an average check ranging from $8 - $15, and the atmosphere is bright, inviting and family-friendly. The restaurant’s concept is innovative and caters to diners who enjoy an imaginative and fresh approach to breakfast, brunch and lunch with a focus on chef-driven food.

The first Wild Eggs Restaurant opened in October 2007 in Louisville, KY. J.D. Rothberg, originally from Denver, CO, had relocated to Louisville in 1993 to accept a position as Director of Operations with Grisanti Foods, Inc. In 1999, Rothberg helped open Napa River Grill, a restaurant based on California cuisine and wines. The concept was an immediate success and garnered many local and national awards. Rothberg led the restaurant to new ownership three years later. During this time, Rothberg met Shane Hall, who later became the restaurant’s General Manager. In 2007, the two men opened the first Wild Eggs restaurant in Louisville, located on Dutchman’s Lane.

There are now four Wild Eggs restaurants in Louisville, as well as locations in Lexington and Bowling Green, KY and Denver, CO, for a total of eight locations. In 2013, the owners decided to franchise the Wild Eggs concept with plans to double the size of the company by 2016, adding restaurants soon in Nashville, TN as well as Indianapolis and Jeffersonville, IN. Eggheadz, LLC has recently launched two new restaurant concepts: Strati Wild Italian, a fast-casual Italian restaurant, and Wild Rita’s, a full-service modern Mexican restaurant and tequila bar.

SBA Assistance: The SBA has played a crucial part of the company’s success. SBA 7(a) and SBA Express Loans helped finance equipment purchases, leasehold improvements and expansion of locations. Currently, Wild Eggs has three SBA loans with Republic Bank of Louisville and has paid off several more SBA loans with another SBA lender.      

Number of employees: There are currently 250 full-time and part-time employees.

Staying power: Co-founders Rothberg and Hall together have almost 60 years of experience managing restaurants in areas including fine dining, full-service and fast-casual. They have recently launched two new restaurant concepts while simultaneously franchising the Wild Eggs brand, which has nearly doubled its weekly sales per location over the past six years. 

Response to adversity or problems: During the recession of 2008 – 2010, Wild Eggs adopted a mentality of growth despite adversity due to a deep recession during that period. While most restaurants hunkered down just trying to survive during the rocky financial downturn, Rothberg and Hall continued to push forward with their marketing, public relations and customer service efforts. This “thrive and survive” mentality allowed them to gain a considerable amount of market share during this time.

Community Involvement: Wild Eggs’ founders believe that as small business owners, they have a responsibility to improve the communities that they live and work in. Rothberg and Hall make an active effort to play a role in making the communities where they operate an even better place to live. Volunteerism has greatly improved the company’s culture and has fostered an environment of understanding and support. As a company, Wild Eggs hosts the Cowgill-Valvano “Scramble Fore Cancer” golf scramble, and the company donates to numerous local charities while encouraging employees to participate in their own charitable efforts.

Learn more about SBA’s loan programs, free counseling services and other small business programs at www.SBA.gov, your lender, and your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC), SCORE Chapter or Women’s Business Center.