Questions about Maple Street Biscuit Company with Scott Moore & Gus Evans
1. Tell us about Maple Street Biscuit Company.
It's a local, independent shop featuring Southern comfort food, with a modern twist. Everything's built around our flaky biscuit.
…what do you mean by a "modern twist?"
Normally you think of biscuits with sausage and bacon, and we do have that, but the bacon we're using is a pecan-smoked bacon. It has a really nice flavor and a little different texture. It's actually smoked bacon and you can see the smoked ring around it. We have a sandwich called the Loaded Goat, which is a biscuit with fried chicken. The chicken has a nice, crunchy crust, and we've added a little kick to the breading. On top of the chicken is a goat cheese medallion, with the biscuit on top of that. Goat cheese is very popular - it happens to be one of my favorites - and the goat cheese medallion is a great way to serve it but you typically wouldn't do that with biscuits.
2. How did you come up with your biscuit recipe?
The internet has a world of information. We started doing a lot of research online about what good chefs did, what other bakers did, and what worked well. Then we started practicing to see what works. We changed around ingredients and how we did things. We've been working on a biscuit recipe for almost 5 months. Every Thursday night we'd have people over to the house. We had a spreadsheet where people could grade our biscuit on taste, appearance, structure, and flakiness. They could also give us overall feedback. We just kept working on it and perfecting it until we think we got a really good, fluffy biscuit. We knew we'd found it when my neighbor came over and bowed down in the front yard and said "I worship the biscuit kings."
3. Any idea of how many batches you went through?
We went through a LOT! My next door neighbors were mad at me because it seems we ruined any chance they had of staying on their diet program. We use nothing but real butter on the biscuits.
4. What's the secret to a great biscuit?
Gus: It's a couple of things. When we were originally working on the recipes, many called for sugar. I thought that if we had maple syrup going on top of the biscuit and we're called Maple Street, then I should do some tests with maple syrup in the biscuit. So, I tried it out and the flavor was great. It was easy to work with. It really worked out. So, having maple syrup is one of our tricks. Another is that we freeze the butter and then shred it. When you put the biscuits in the oven the butter pops and that creates air pockets in the biscuit making it fluffy and airy. You can see layers within the biscuit. Those are two secrets. I'm not going to give out anything else.
5. How did you come up with the concept for Maple Street Biscuit Company?
Both of our jobs went away in the last half year and we started to think about what we wanted to do. My wife and I had gone to Portland, Oregon and there's a restaurant there that 3 guys from North Carolina had opened up. It was built around a biscuit. We thought it was really neat. They had started at a farmer's market, got a little following, and opened their first store. They have since opened a second store. They do a really good job. My wife and I went to both places and enjoyed the food. Here we were without a job looking for what the next step should be. We were inspired with what we saw. Gus came to me after I shared what we'd seen and told me he'd like us to work on this together. We thought the shop in Portland was great on the west coast but would be even better on the east coast, especially in the South where we love biscuits. We came back and started working on the biscuit recipe until we perfected it. That was the inspiration for us and we worked on making it something we think the South will appreciate. In Portland they were doing plain biscuits whereas we're doing a wider variety of flavors and some sweet biscuits. For example, we have a cinnamon chip pecan biscuit with a cream cheese icing drenched over it.
6. Have you owned a restaurant before? What attracted you to a restaurant?
About 15 years ago, when we lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee we opened up a little, local, community type store that my wife ran called The Bagel Market. We made bagels from scratch and baked them fresh every day. We had it for 6 years before we sold it so I knew something of what it took, and had a good experience previously. I've also been in the retail, food grocery business for 20 years. I was responsible for learning and development with Fortune 500 grocery retail chains and I was responsible for training people in delis, bakeries and food service departments. Gus has been in construction for the past 10 years so this will be a bit of a new adventure for him.
7. Gus, can you tell us a little about your background?
Gus: My background is building construction management. I am from Jacksonville, FL - born and raised on the west side. My parents still live there. My grandparents live there too - they have since the '50s. I graduated from Bolles High School. I got a 2-year degree at FCCJ followed by a Building Management degree from UNF.
I have always enjoyed being in the kitchen, working with my mom, my grandmother, and my wife but I've never worked in a restaurant. It's something that excites me. I like to prepare things for people. It's something I enjoy doing.
…what attracted you to Maple Street Biscuit Company?
I lost my job about 6 months ago. In praying and talking to Scott and my wife we wanted to do everything we could to stay in Jacksonville. We didn't want to move to find a construction job elsewhere in the state or in the country. I was willing to do anything to stay in Jacksonville. This opportunity with Scott seemed like a perfect fit. I love doing it so I told Scott I was interested in going in with him to make it work. Fortunately Scott agreed after we took the weekend to pray about it and to seek God about it. It all worked out from there.