A Raleigh, North Carolina, Bruegger’s Bagels unit has raised the bar for what’s possible in the site-selection process.

Opened in 2009 as part of the years-long redevelopment of Raleigh’s North Hills shopping and entertainment district, the standalone Bruegger’s is encircled by high-end boutiques, residential apartments, and a high-rise office complex. Brothers Mike and Tim Jefferson, who opened their first Bruegger’s location seven years ago in Raleigh, operate the store. While Tim Jefferson—a Culinary Institute of America graduate—oversees the shop’s daily operations, Mike Jefferson focuses on big-picture plans and filling daily gaps as the store’s resident chameleon.

Mike Jefferson discusses the unusual aspects of this Bruegger’s store and the long-term outlook he and his brother adopted.

How did you land this A location?

We were initially approached by the developer’s firm, which wanted a free-standing concept in the middle of the development that would attract customers throughout the day. We interviewed against five other concepts and, fortunately, Bruegger’s is a staple in the Triangle area [of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill] and something the public wanted to see. We hit it off with the developer, and he picked us.

What reservations did you have about going into an area that would take years to develop?

From the get-go, we had very open communications with the developer, so we understood his vision. That helped us frame this investment in the right light. To secure the space, we needed to get in early and wait for the development to catch up. There are two more high-rise office towers, additional apartment buildings, a public amphitheater, and even more still to come. We have a seven-to-10-year vision here and, as our numbers improve every day, we’re confident our best years are ahead of us.

How does this Bruegger’s store differ from others in the 300-unit system?

There was an extensive focus on the shop’s physical look so that it would match the development’s upscale vibe. The developer took responsibility for the exterior shell. He installed a slate roof and copper rain gutters; trellises with wisteria over all of the entrances; and 60 patio seats under umbrellas. We handled the inside and upgraded at every possible turn with wood trim, upgraded menuboards, handcrafted cabinetry, and a fireplace surrounded by leather seating.

What has been the response from Bruegger’s corporate office?

Anytime someone from Bruegger’s corporate comes to Raleigh-Durham, they’re stopping at our store. We’ve seen new Bruegger’s locations open across the country and step up their game, and we like to think we played some part in upping the stakes for Bruegger’s more refined look.

Consumer Trends, Design, Fast Casual, Story, Bruegger's