eggs up grill

From Little Caesars Franchisee to Eggs Up Grill Owner: Why the Brand Was A Perfect Fit For Ken Bates

August 14, 2019
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Eggs Up Grill has major plans to expand throughout the Volunteer State.   

Former Little Caesar's franchisee Ken Bates is back in the restaurant game after a 13-year hiatus, and as far as he’s concerned, Eggs Up Grill is the place to be. 

The breakfast, brunch and lunch brand prides itself on its wholesome menu and neighborly vibes. Eggs Up Grill has big plans for expansion throughout the state of Tennessee, and Bates is going to lead the way. He will open the brand’s first Tennessee location by the end of 2019 in the Tri-Cities area, which is comprised of the cities of Bristol, Johnson City and Kingsport. He is currently on the hunt for some prime real estate. 

Bates opened his first Little Caesars in 1989. His enterprise grew over a 17-year period to 24 Little Caesars franchises across Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. He decided to sell in 2006 and pursue a career in real estate development.

Ken Bates and his family are egg-cited to open their first Eggs Up Grill franchise in Tennessee

“I got out of the restaurant industry because the timing was right for me and my family to pursue other interests,” Bates said. “I’ve always missed the restaurant franchise business, but I didn’t feel the right opportunity had come along, until Eggs Up Grill.”

Bates first learned about the breakfast, brunch and lunch brand through a Little Caesars friend who was based in the Spartanburg area—home to Eggs Up Grill’s headquarters.

“He knew I had been looking at concepts and told me about Eggs Up Grill,” Bates said. “After much consideration and research, I believe Eggs Up Grill is the opportunity I have been waiting for. The breakfast segment is growing and I like the hours and the flexibility it allows.” 

Bates signed his franchise agreement on July 5, joining the brand at a prime moment. Founded in 1997, Eggs Up Grill has rapidly expanded throughout the southern United States. Today, there are 36 locations throughout South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. 

“Eggs Up Grill is absolutely thrilled to have Ken Bates on board,” said CEO Ricky Richardson. “Ken is an industry veteran who scaled his Little Caesars franchises in some very competitive markets. He will bring a great deal of energy and expertise to the Tri-Cities area and pave the way for more franchisees in Tennessee. We believe Tennessee is a great market for our brand and we are excited for Ken to get started and set an example for prospective new franchisees.” 

Bates expects Eggs Up Grill will be well-received in the Tri-Cities area. He signed up to open one Eggs Up Grill, but he plans to open five more over the next five years. 

Bates was actively involved in his community during his Little Caesars franchise days and he plans to be the same way with his Eggs Up Grill location. His previous community involvement included working with the Holston Valley Medical Center and serving as the president of the athletic booster club at his alma mater, East Tennessee State University. 

“As far as other business interests, I am the landlord of Tusculum View Centre in Greeneville, TN and I lease condos in Johnson City,” he said. “I still own about 40 lots in my residential development, Chase Meadows Development. Once Eggs Up is open, I plan on making it my main focus.”

While Bates is a family man with two children and two grandchildren, he also just simply loves to work. 

“I have been semi-retired since the selling of my Little Caesars stores, but, I am looking forward to being involved with local organizations and charities once I get up and running as an Eggs Up owner and operator,” he said. “As for my spare time, honestly, I’m a workaholic perfectionist so that’s really what I do for fun.”

About Eggs Up Grill:

Eggs Up Grill is home to the whole neighborhood, serving smiles from sunup through lunch. The aromas of freshly brewed coffee, savory bacon and hand-cracked, farm-fresh eggs on the griddle, and warm, attentive team members will make you feel right at home. We are “neighbors serving neighbors” daily from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Recently ranked as the no. 1 breakfast franchise by Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500® for its outstanding performance in areas including unit growth, financial strength and stability, and brand power, Eggs Up Grill is experiencing record growth across the Southeast. Originally founded in Pawleys Island, S.C., by restaurateur Chris Skodras, Eggs Up Grill now has 47 locations and is headquartered in Spartanburg, S.C.  In 2018, private equity firm WJ Partners acquired Eggs Up Grill, building the team and priming the brand to rapidly grow in more communities across the U.S. with plans underway to reach the 100 restaurant mark by 2023. For more information, visit

The startup costs for an Eggs Up Grill franchise range from $462,330 to $653,680. The franchise fee is $39,000. To learn more about franchising with Eggs Up Grill, visit