Gebran Gebran grew up at his father’s diner in Iowa. However, the ASU alumnus, who moved to Phoenix to pursue a business degree, swore he would never get into the restaurant business.
But it was in his blood.
In 1991, a year after he graduated, Gebran opened the first U.S. Egg location with his father, Oscar, and his three brothers, Michael, Mario and George. The popular breakfast and lunch eatery now has six locations in the Valley, including Scottsdale, Chandler and Phoenix.
So what’s the secret for serving up stellar service and tasty fare for over three decades?
For Gebran, the answer is simple: “Love what you do.”
“I look forward to coming here. I look forward to seeing the staff,” he elaborates. “We have staff that’s been with us for 15 to 17 years. We really take care of our staff and our guests. It’s kind of like a little family.”
Gebran, who identifies himself as a “huge foodie,” says satisfying customers and supplying a product he can be proud of are a fundamental part of the business.
So what’s on the menu? U.S. Egg is home of the Phoenix-famous Protein Pancake, a hearty hotcake filled with fresh blueberries, homemade granola, cinnamon and sliced almonds. Gebran says he eats them five to six times a week. Some of his other favorite menu items include their skillets, salads, homemade soups, burgers and BLT sandwich.
The restaurant also has a secret menu that includes re-imagined versions of regular menu items. It includes meals like a jalapeño scramble with chorizo, cilantro and sour cream and a ham skillet with green peppers and jack cheese.
“You’ll never leave hungry, believe me,” Gebran guarantees.
In addition to making sure their patrons are full when they leave, U.S. Egg is also committed to helping the community through local charities like Packages From Home, which supplies care packages to deployed soldiers from Arizona and Mana House, which provides relief to homeless veterans.
“We’re very proud to do that,” he says.
U.S. Egg is open seven days a week from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This schedule allows Gebran and his brothers to do things like eat dinner with their family or go out with their friends in the evening.
“There’s a great balance there, so you still have a life,” he explains. “You really need that balance. Otherwise, I think you get burnt out and that’s not appealing to anyone.”
Gebran says he and his brothers share the same foundation, beliefs and values, which make running a business together seem effortless. However, each brother has something different to bring to the table.
“Each one of our personalities is completely different,” he says. “We’re not copies of each other by any means.”
According to Gebran, his brother Michael is meticulous, detail-oriented and dedicated. George is creative and skilled at marketing and Mario handles everything on the culinary side, like coming up with new menu items. One trait they all possess is persistence.
“You have to have persistence,” Gebran contends. “That’s been the secret to success.”
He also says staying humble and facing problems head on doesn’t hurt either.
“Every day you’re going to have something; it’s how you deal with those situations that determine if you’re happy or not,” he says. “It’s the little things. It’s a nice cup of coffee, it’s a nice conversation, it’s a nice drive, it’s a sunny day, great food, Protein Pancakes on a Sunday morning and a Bloody Mary.”
One of those “little things,” Gebran says, has been watching the relationship with his brothers, who are all two years apart, evolve.
“Watching my brothers develop from children into men, working together as a family and growing this family brand that I’m very proud of,” he says. ”Our relationship gets stronger, it doesn’t get old.”
According to Gebran, another thing they will never grow out of is practical jokes and prank phone calls. They may have a rock solid synergy, but that doesn’t mean they don’t give each other a hard time behind the scenes.
Any problem they have is solved over food.
“We go have a bite to eat and all is well,” he says. “There’s nothing a plate of spaghetti or a steak can’t solve, you know?”
Another secret to success: “Never take each other too seriously and make sure the relationship always comes first.”
“Our strength is our unity… And our commitment to each other before business, before anything,” he says. “When you’re not concentrating on money… And you’re concentrating on relationships, and putting out a product that you’re proud of… everything else just falls into place.”