By: Jason Perlow
Franchises are a double-edged sword. For restaurant owners, it provides the benefit of instantaneous brand recognition, built-in marketing and established procedures.
But it also can come with problems, especially if the originating franchise makes significant changes.
That’s what happened to Juan Marin, who in 2013 along with his partners, secured the South Florida rights to The Egg and I, a medium-sized chain of breakfast and brunch restaurants originating from Colorado.
In 2015, the Egg and I was purchased by First Watch, a competing breakfast chain with an existing South Florida presence that recently completed a rare brand conversion of all their corporate-owned locations.
The Coral Springs Egg and I had to go.
So what was Juan to do with a 100-seat restaurant that had a thriving breakfast and brunch business? The only thing a restaurant owner can do in this situation: rebrand and rework the menu.
Fortunately for Coral Springs residents, this is a welcome change. The Gianni (which is the name of his holding company) now puts their focus on creative dishes like: Eggs Benedict, omelettes, and classic New York-style luncheonette sandwiches.
Free from the shackles of franchising rules, The Gianni has a full liquor license, so you can get your breakfast with a mimosa or a killer Bloody Mary made fresh with an in-house mix, featuring bacon, a dill pickle and a strong hit of horseradish.
It’s sufficiently salty, but not too much. So if you have a hangover from partying the night before, the restorative qualities of this brunch cocktail classic will fix you right up.
Coffee is the standard never-ending Bunn-style drip, served in a classic thermal pot and white ceramic diner mugs. No espresso drinks yet.
If you want to skip the alcohol or the joe, there are fresh raw squeezed juices too. While the “Purple” juice was most photogenic, we found it a bit too beet-heavy for our taste.
Our favorite was the “Green” juice, which features a refreshing combination of kale, spinach, cucumbers, apple, and lime, and opened up the palate for what came next.
On my first visit, I had the El Capitan Benny which is beautifully presented with perfectly runny poached eggs and a classic hollandaise sauce, bacon, ham, mushrooms, asparagus, chives and tomato over a sliced toasted English Muffin.
Instead of home fries, I opted for the mesclun salad greens, which came with a light vinaigrette. This, along with the option of fruit salad, is a nice switch-up from the carb-loaded home fries and french fries typical of most breakfast places and diners.
We also tried the Italian Benny, which along with poached eggs and hollandaise, had melted provolone, ham, and mushrooms on a buttery croissant. It was devoured by my guests with aplomb.
You can also get totally legit Southern-style breakfasts here. The biscuits and sausage milk gravy, served with grits, is sure to please. Our resident Fort Pierce native transplants declared it the real deal.
Don’t want breakfast? You can also get all kinds of classic diner sandwiches such as clubs, 8 ounce burgers and melts.
Seeking a New York diner benchmark, we ordered the Reuben, which is served on thick, toasted and buttered seeded rye bread, with thinly sliced corned beef, melted Swiss cheese, and home-made sauerkraut.
It’s a nice-sized sandwich. There’s just enough Russian dressing on it to coat the rye and to complement the melted cheese, which is to my personal liking. However, some people looking for a more gushy version might want to ask for some extra on the side.
French Fries accompanying the sandwich were of the frozen commercial, coated seasoned-type, but they were cooked perfectly crispy well-done. Eat them while they are still piping hot.
For our visits, we chose to eat inside, but the restaurant offers pet-friendly patio dining, so you can bring your pooch too if the weather isn’t too hot outside.
The restaurant still considers its transformation to be a work in progress, so grab a Bloody Mary and watch this space.
THE GIANNI 1933
1933 North University Drive
Coral Springs 33071
Mon-Fri 7 a.m.- 3 pm.
Sat-Sun 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Jason Perlow is a long-time foodie who spent 20 years in the New York City and New Jersey metro areas reviewing restaurants for The New York Times and his personal food blog, Off The Broiler, which he started in 2006 and ran for ten years. He is also the founder of eGullet, a popular food discussion site and not-for-profit organization that was formed in 2001, which was featured on Tony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” cable television program.
As a technologist by profession, he writes the Tech Broiler blog for CBS’s ZDNet web site. He has been a Coral Springs resident since moving to South Florida in 2012.