Madison Shoffner and Mallory Shoffner Quintero are ready to grow what they think is the next notable brand to come out of Kentucky and continue their family’s franchisee legacy. Through their newly formed Shoffner Family Foods, Madison and Mallory, along with parents Jay and Kelly Shoffner, signed on to develop six locations of Louisville-based Biscuit Belly, an emerging fast-casual brunch franchise the sisters said stands out in the category.
Their grandfather, J. Roy Shoffner, was among the early franchisees of Kentucky Fried Chicken, opening his first restaurant in Middlesboro, Kentucky, in 1968. As JRS Restaurant Group, which their parents took over in 1997 and still operate, the business has grown to 34 KFCs and 10 Long John Silver’s locations in Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana, with Shoffner Family Foods representing the next generation.
“KFC has always been part of our identity growing up. It’s cool for us to be a part of the most iconic Kentucky brand and now the newest Kentucky brand,” said Madison.
“We’ve always been the KFC people in town,” added Mallory, who recalled attending annual KFC conventions with her parents but never thought she would join the family business. It wasn’t until after earning her degree in biotechnology from the University of Kentucky that Mallory, 29, said she realized she wanted to join her parents in JRS.
“The thought of our 50-year-old family business dying because we don’t get involved, it really struck me,” said Mallory, who came aboard four years ago and now handles staffing and training, along with product rollouts across the brands.
“And I guess I was feeling left out,” laughed Madison, 30, who after five years as a prosecutor in Louisville decided more recently to join her sister and parents. She’s still putting her legal expertise to work, reviewing contracts and leases for JRS and now Shoffner Family Foods. The group has the lease secured for its first Biscuit Belly in Lexington, Kentucky, with an opening slated for mid-September.
“The food is phenomenal,” said Mallory, who along with Madison has been a regular at Biscuit Belly since founders Chad and Lauren Coulter opened the first location in Louisville in 2019. Three company restaurants are now open, and in addition to the Shoffners Biscuit Belly has a four-unit deal with Kumar Patel’s multi-concept Power Brands Hospitality Group.
The menu from chef Tavis Rockwell includes a variety of fried chicken and brisket biscuit sandwiches, plus pancake corndogs, breakfast tots and other indulgent sides, along with a full lineup of breakfast cocktails. The concept is trendy and has “enough spark and pizzazz” to appeal to “our group of friends and other people our age,” said Mallory, while also standing up to the due diligence of experienced operators such as her parents.
“They said, quote unquote, Biscuit Belly is the bomb,” said Jay of his daughters’ enthusiasm for the brand. He and wife Kelly “blind-shopped” all three locations before attending a discovery day to assess the opportunity. While the corporate team is small, said Kelly, “they blew us away at discovery day,” with strong training and support functions in place. JRS already has a solid operating infrastructure, noted Jay, along with decades of experience in the KFC system, which gives him confidence they can execute the model without relying on corporate.
The alcohol component is “definitely a plus for us,” added Kelly and differentiates Biscuit Belly from others in the breakfast segment. “It’s definitely elevated. It’s not your typical breakfast fare that you find.”
As for working with Madison and Mallory, Jay and Kelly chuckled as they said it takes “structure and having some patience” while they impart 30-plus years of restaurant knowledge to their daughters. “It’s difficult because you want to teach them everything at once,” said Kelly, “but you really have to break it down into small bites” and give them room to make mistakes.
“You don’t learn until you get in there and get your hands dirty and just do it,” said Mallory, while Madison stressed the importance of not being afraid to ask questions.
“It’s hard for them to remember sometimes that we don’t know everything,” she said. And for her and Mallory, it’s not just about carrying on the family legacy, “but growing and improving” with new brands. At press time, the two were close to signing a 15-unit deal with Jimmy John’s.