The brunch concept believes it can double in size over the next five years.
If you could create a restaurant built from the spirit of New Orleans, using all of its unique charm, grit, and beauty, you’d have something a lot like the Ruby Slipper Cafe. Originating in the downtown district after Hurricane Katrina, the brunch concept has proven itself and is entering a growth mode that should see it double its footprint to 21 restaurants within five years.
While its first 12 restaurants remain under the Ruby Slipper Cafe label, the concept is now expanding under the Ruby Sunshine alias to stand out from any Wizard of Oz association. Both brands are owned by Ruby Slipper Restaurant Group and otherwise have the same branding, menu and atmosphere. This atmosphere centers on what CEO Peter Gaudreau calls “brunch life,” with scratch cuisine and New Orleans-inspired cocktails.
“This concept has been growing for 14 years now,” says Gaudreau. “We have an incredibly dedicated clientele who seem to agree with our core philosophy, which is that we believe brunch is not something that shouldn’t just happen on weekends. It can happen seven days a week, and I think our menu embraces that notion as well and exudes the spirit of New Orleans – it’s made up of high-quality, passionately prepared cocktails and food.
Gaudreau – a veteran of brands such as Freebirds World Burrito, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen and Snooze an AM Eatery – came on board in early 2020, just weeks before the pandemic swept the country. He wanted to be part of the brand because he thought its authentic cuisine, cocktails and atmosphere were quite unique.
The essence of New Orleans begins with the menu. Cocktails include everything from standard bellinis and Bloody Mary offerings, to a Lavender Paloma and a Big Easy Mimosa, with a “generous” pour of champagne accompanied by grapefruit, cranberry or seasonal puree. On the food side, the menu offers a southern breakfast, with two eggs at will, applewood smoked bacon, fried green tomatoes, stone oatmeal, with a buttermilk biscuit. But where brands really take on a New Orleans image is with items like seasonal donuts, a Gulf shrimp omelette, pork and pork buttermilk cookie sliders, or an egg Benedict with crawfish and grain. The latter is one of the six basic “bennies” on the menu.
“We feel like we own the Eggs Benedict category,” says Gaudreau. “We have all these amazing flavor combinations that are nods to southern flavor that deliver what people are looking for when they come to Ruby Slipper or Ruby Sunshine restaurants. One of my favorite things we do, actually, is what we call the Peacemaker, where people can mix and match two “bennies”, where one egg is on a menu item and the other is on an item different menu.