Karl and Sarah Worley’s restaurant concept Biscuit Love had its beginnings in an Airstream trailer food truck named Lilly. From those humble first steps, the Worleys have now opened three brick-and-mortar establishments in the Nashville, Tennessee, area that can attract lines of customers, hungry for biscuits and other Southern fare. Sarah and Karl are a husband and wife team, both of whom hold culinary degrees from Johnson & Wales. Together, they have tapped into something genuine, by focusing on ingredients, technique, and community. Biscuit Love locally sources as much as possible, serving dishes that make both Nashville natives and tourists feel at home. The Biscuit Love team will be a part of our upcoming annual picnic and gathering, so we spoke with Karl as a way to introduce the company to the uninitiated.
AC: Who taught you how to make biscuits?
KW: I watched my grandmother as a child. I never took the time to learn from her, unfortunately. I taught myself as an adult.
AC: Almost every biscuit maker has a special family-based story around their biscuit recipes. I think that is the same case with you. Would you like to talk about that?
KW: I think biscuits are one of those personal things. My grandmother’s drop biscuit recipe is the same for me. It takes me back home every time I make them.
AC: Both Karl and Sarah have culinary degrees from Johnson & Wales. That being said, how did the simple biscuit become the centerpiece of your business?
KW: Sarah was the brilliant one behind that, but I believe it speaks to so many southerners personally. We are honored to carry on the tradition.
AC: You started as a food truck? What gave you the idea and the gumption to serve biscuits from a food truck?
KW: Yes…a borrowed one. (Thanks, Jason.) Sarah told me my hot chicken (before the craze) idea would never work! She suggested biscuits, and I liked the idea of serving sandwiches from a food truck!
AC: You now have 3 locations and your restaurants often have a line of customers willing to wait quite a while to get inside. How did you make the decision to expand?
KW: #Blessed! We had always wanted to see where the business would go. We love what we do, and think we have built a platform to have Biscuit Love locations in a few areas!
AC: Why do you think you have been able to cultivate such community support?
KW: We serve honest food! We try to serve amazing Southern food that touches something in a person’s soul.
AC: A biscuit may seem like a simple offering, but making a truly great biscuit is an art. Do you have any secrets to share or tips to improve biscuit making technique?
KW: Use GREAT ingredients, cast iron is your friend, and pick a recipe and keep perfecting it. It is like riding a bike. It takes a while to get the hang of it, but after you do, you don’t forget how!
AC: You also serve other classic Southern dishes that are simple but elevated. How do you decide which dishes make the cut?
KW: I usually begin with an idea, and work to get a dish out for Sarah and our family to try. I am not afraid of honest feedback as to if the dish should hit the menu. Sarah is a great visionary of if the dish will work and how to better execute it!
AC: Basing your entire business around a biscuit seems like a risky undertaking, and yet you have been undeniably successful. How do you balance trend and tradition, and how do you think you are able to appeal to both tourists and locals so successfully?
KW: I think breakfast is one of those meals that naturally makes people happy. We didn’t go into it with that in mind, but I am glad we chose the breakfast space for that reason.
AC: I imagine it can be tricky to navigate running a business with your spouse. How do you negotiate those hurdles? Or, has it been a natural fit for you?
KW: We are still learning every day. If anyone has pointers, I am all ears. We are learning to work in our strength areas and know when to hold tight to what is important to each of us. We try to be a little better every day with it!
AC: At Alabama Chanin, it is essential to our product that we create relationships with our makers and choose the right sources and suppliers. What part does this play in your philosophy?
KW: It is one of the things we are most proud of. We still source around 50% of what we use locally. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Forming partnerships with people who have amazing products and being able to actually call and talk to my vendors is a big reason I love the business. We have seen some of our vendors grow as we grow, which is an amazing feeling!
AC: How many biscuits would you estimate that you serve on an average Saturday?
KW: 3500… Whew, that is a lot of biscuits from 5-6 dedicated people!
AC: And is it true that you don’t use an electric mixer for your biscuit dough?
KW: Never… you have to feel the dough to know what it’s telling you!