Want to own a breakfast-based restaurant? Well, the Cereal Box, which opened about four weeks ago in the Highlands, is for sale if you want it.
Owner and founder Eric Richardson announced on Facebook this week that he would sell the concept — to the right person.
In part, his post read:
“MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT!!!! As the owner of The Cereal Box, I have kept my true intentions of this wonderful business under wraps throughout the entire process. Because of another venture I have in the fitness world, my original goal was to raffle off the business at a low cost and give someone an opportunity to own a business who otherwise might not have a chance to. Unfortunately, the gaming laws in Kentucky do not allow me to do that. So now I am going make it available for purchase to someone who wants to grow the concept.”
But Richardson told Insider he would be discriminating when accepting an offer, and there also was a short window in which to find that person. Which is to say, he may not sell at all. It’s all sort of confusing.
“I’m very specific in what I’m looking for,” he said in a text to Insider. “It wasn’t my original goal, but I can’t raffle it off. So, I’m giving it three weeks to accept offers or I’m keeping it.”
In late June, Insider interviewed Richardson about the venture, which opened days later, and no mention was made of raffling or selling the business once it opened.
But he reported within the last 10 days that business was going well, and the Cereal Box’s Facebook page is active with photos of people who have tried to finish of the Cereal Killer — a choice of up to 15 cereals with up to 10 toppings, plus milk, in a giant bowl. For weeks, no one could finish the $20 item, until someone managed to do it this week.
So, if the restaurant is doing well, keeping both morning and late-night hours, why sell? Richardson is a personal trainer by profession, and his other business venture is to create a space where he can house all of his equipment and classes under one roof.
“That’s a major undertaking,” he said in an interview Friday morning.
What he didn’t expect was the amount of buzz it’s getting on social media and otherwise. People seem incredulous that anyone would sell a business they worked four years to open within just a few weeks, which is not an unreasonable reaction, at least on the surface.
“It’s blown my mind on this, just as much as the buzz generated when I opened did,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting so much attention on it.”
He said Google contacted him and said it was the most-searched local business in the weeks after it opened. There are five five-star reviews on Google, and there have been 40 ratings on Facebook, all but two of which are five stars (the other two are four stars).
But the social-media naysayers are speculating that the business is badly failing, and Richardson is jumping ship. He insists raffling it off was his plan all along.
“Only very few people know what my intentions were from the beginning, and they thought I was absolutely insane,” he said.
His interest actually is in growing the brand, he said, but his plan hit a snag.
“My attorney said I would have to get a temporary gaming license, and I guess through that process I wouldn’t be able to raffle it off unless I was a nonprofit or something like that,” Richardson said. “I wanted to raffle it off, but I stayed on with the business. … My original goal was to give someone the opportunity to own a business, and show them the ropes. I’ve already done the legwork and financial part of it all. I wanted to go in together with someone. I want to expand to a couple more locations fairly quick.”
In fact, he waited longer than he originally planned to post the “for sale” announcement, because he was concerned about how it would be perceived and what the backlash might be from naysayers, who remain plentiful.
“They’re going to think they were right,” he said.
However, he said 30 to 40 people have inquired about the restaurant, adding, “I would say there’s probably been at least five or six who were serious.”
Stay tuned. Richardson promises that if he sells, it will be so he can focus on the Cereal Box.
“My thing is, why would I want to get out from underneath it in the first month?” he said. “That’s your best time. It’s not like I’m selling 100 percent, dusting off my hands, and walking away from it. I don’t see how anyone could do that after putting so much thought and effort into what it’s become.”
If you’re interested in talking to Richardson about becoming a Cereal Box owner, contact him at the restaurant’s Facebook page.