Retirement for Cindy Stone probably looks a bit different than most people would envision for themselves.
After 27 years of teaching, 26 of them as a math teacher at Northwood Middle School in Taylors, Stone retired and decided to open a restaurant. It’s definitely not a break from hard work, but it’s exactly the outlet she was looking for.
“Sometimes you just need a little change,” Stone says. “I like to be busy.”
On July 21, Stone will open Greenville’s first Famous Toastery franchise at the former Two Chefs Delicatessen and Market location at 104 S. Main St. in the Poinsett Plaza building. The North Carolina-based chain that began in Huntersville in 2005 has grown to more than 20 locations on the East Coast with many more in the works. Stone says if this venture goes well, she hopes to open more locations in Greenville.
The 3,250-square-foot restaurant will have seating for 100 inside, 32 in the lobby of Poinsett Plaza, and 16-20 more on the outdoor patio currently being used by The Nose Dive. Famous Toastery will use the patio daily until 3 p.m., after which The Nose Dive will take it over.
The restaurant also features a full bar with fresh-squeezed orange juice available for mimosas, and, for the first time in the franchise’s history, a grab-and-go area that will have ready-made hot and cold items available at the front counter.
Stone said she and her husband, Peter, who has been a management and marketing professor for 28 years at Spartanburg Community College, had been talking for about five years about what they would do when they retired from their current jobs. A restaurant seemed like an interesting idea, but typical restaurant hours were not ideal for them.
“We’re not really nighttime people,” Stone says. “We’re into going to bed early.”
Famous Toastery’s hours, however, are the sort that could work for a family or those not wanting to burn the candle at both ends. With hours from 7 a.m.–3 p.m., seven days a week, Stone can still have her evenings with her family. The earlier hours were also a draw for the chef, Aaron Vargo, who has a young son, as well as much of the new staff, whom Stone says are ready for daytime hours after years of working late in the service industry.
“We are breakfast people,” Stone says.
Stone says another draw toward the franchise is the “every server is your server” concept that promotes distribution of labor and responsibility among the servers. It also means all tips are pooled and distributed according to number of hours worked. Heat lamps are never used, so servers and a dedicated food runner must work together to ensure food is delivered hot.
The use of fresh ingredients, including fresh lobster flown in weekly, attracted Stone to the menu, which is the same at each franchise location. The menu includes everything from pancakes and omelets to a quinoa kale salad and a house-made meatloaf sandwich. Chef Vargo will have the option of offering daily specials, which will vary from day to day depending on seasonal ingredients or his creative whims.
Because most items, except for the bread, are made in-house, customization for dietary restrictions and preferences is possible.
“I liked that it offered a variety for people,” Stone says. “If you want breakfast and another person wants lunch, you can both have what you want.”