2015 Chicago Rising Star Concept Winners Erin Byrne, Drew Gordon Davis, and Hunter Swartz of Eastman Egg Company

by Caroline Hatchett
May 2015

Caroline Hatchett: What came first, the egg sandwich or the concept of Eastman Egg Company?
Drew Gordon Davis:
The egg sandwich. Back in 2012, Hunter entered a contest advertised in GQ. Basically, he proposed a better breakfast for busy people and started experimenting with egg sandwiches. He realized how fresh, awesome, and healthy the egg sandwich could be and it could be made in minutes. The company itself has grown to something bigger than that over time, but our core value is still to provide a delicious, healthy start to your day and we can do it in under five minutes to boot.
Hunter Swartz: I was working in finance and struggling with what I could eat for breakfast. I was in San Francisco and grew up in a foodie family, so I knew how to cook. Eastman Egg Company is trying to bring fine-dining to someone who’s at an office. I knew nothing about the food industry. I bought a truck, and shipped it across the mountains. Our first food truck was launched in 2013 with a subset of the current menu at our storefront, which opened in September 2014. The first three sandwiches were all mine. Drew now has a bigger part in the menu.

CH: How are you planning to expand Eastman Egg Company in years to come?
HS:
We're opening our second location this summer. By 2016, we'd like to be in another state. In 5 years, we want to have over 50 units. Right now, we're building an app to let customers order in advance. When you walk towards our store, we'll make what you order. Technology is opportunity. We want to be a big part of people's lives across the country. Our goal is to make morning awesome again.
Erin Byrne: We're also working with Spring, a third party [shopping app] with a network of 400 restaurants in Chicago.

CH: How do you source your ingredients?
HS:
We source mostly from local sources. Slagel Family Farms does all our meats and eggs, and La Farine does bread. Our plan is to work with lots of farmers. Like our chorizo, we can bring in pork from a few farmers. We can bring in local farms to the downtown core.

CH: How many eggs do you break each week?
DGD:
This week we cracked approximately 3,200 eggs in the store, and another 900 for our food truck.
HS: We're going to get more eggs, since Slagel increased production.

CH: How are you involved in the local community?
HS:
Our food truck gets invited with tons of events. We go to elementary schools a lot, and parents like us. We did a charity race in the suburbs, where kids ran down the street asking for bacon, egg, and cheese.
DGD: We’re huge supporters of Growing Home, and we’ve staffed several employees that have graduated from the program. It’s an organization that really instills the thinking of ‘where does our food come from?” And they allow people to discover how to develop healthier eating habits.

CH: Which sandwich best describes Eastman Egg Company?
DGD:
The Turkey Cuban. It’s delicious, yes, and further more it was the first menu item that we all joined together as a team for. When we first opened we got immediate feedback that people felt uneasy about breakfast at lunch, so we came together and created an item that was great for lunch time, functional within the rest of our operations, and one we could produce at a reasonable cost.