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Snooze CEO David Birzon talks about the sustainable practices that earned this chef-driven breakfast concept a spot in the FSR 50.

Snooze Wakes Up the Breakfast Scene

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This chef-driven brand brings sustainable practices and community support to the start of each day.
By Alex Dixon August 2017 Expansion

There’s a new meaning for “green eggs and ham” in Denver, Colorado, thanks to the commitment one breakfast-centric concept has made to sustainable practices.

Founded in 2006 by brothers Jon and Adam Schlegel, Snooze, an A.M. Eatery, has grown to 20 units through a brand built on three pillars: community, sustainability, and responsible sourcing through a decidedly chef-driven menu.

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“Responsible food started up through dinner, and then quick-casual was a branch of that … but why does it only have to be during lunch?” Snooze CEO David Birzon notes. “No one had done anything different with breakfast in 30 years, and we’re taking the chef-driven model to it with Snooze.”

Birzon says that Snooze wants to be more than a restaurant; it wants to be an asset to each of the communities in which it operates.

The company does this by giving back to the local community through donations of goods and services, whether it’s employees passing out pancakes, maintaining school gardens, or volunteering at food banks or other organizations. There’s even a full-time community director at Snooze who assists in determining the best ways to make monetary donations, typically 1 percent of sales from each location, and to get employees involved. Employees also volunteer for local boards and other leadership positions within communities, Birzon says.

That sense of creating community encourages Snooze to be an example and a leader for other establishments when it comes to sustainability. The company diverts 90 percent of all of its waste from landfills, with plans to divert 100 percent by the end of 2018.

Snooze recycles and composts, while working with neighboring businesses and landlords to make the process easier for all and to encourage collaboration in reducing waste. The brand has a full-time director of sustainability who ensures that it meets its sustainability objectives and that it is using resources and sourcing wisely.

When deciding what ingredients come through the door, Snooze has strict principles: Meat must not contain any subtherapeutic antibiotics; eggs must be cage-free; and products should be purchased from organic purveyors whenever possible. Because of the costliness associated with organic certification, Snooze also guides small vendors that it works with through the process. Employees visit partner farms and manufacturers, and each location has a “green captain” to organize events like the farm field trips and to keep employees informed of sustainability efforts.

Snooze’s commitment to ethical and environmental practices not only leads to quality food and an impact in the community, but it also resonates with customers and attracts employees who are passionate about the brand. “It benefits the employee base because they can say, ‘Snooze believes what I believe and I believe what Snooze believes,’” Birzon says.

And the fact that an early shift means employees are usually out of the restaurant by mid-afternoon doesn’t hurt the company’s ability to attract prospects, either. Even with operating hours from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily, sales ring in comparable to many restaurants serving through dinner and late night. Birzon says Snooze locations on average bring in sales of more than $3 million per unit.