Eating better remains a year-round goal for many. D. Brian’s Kitchen and Catering makes it easy to eat healthy, with tempting offerings of wraps, sandwiches, salads and soups. The menu doesn’t stop at lunch fare. A power breakfast is just as important as a power lunch at D. Brian’s. Full breakfast offerings make great day-starters. From omelets to muffins, everything is house-made with fresh, quality ingredients. More often than not, eating at D. Brian’s involves more nutrition than guilt. Most items fall into the good-for-you category.
A smart-start breakfast contains fresh spinach, potatoes and avocados nestled around three eggs for protein goodness. “So the customer doesn’t come in and order organic eggs, you’re getting organic eggs,” Paul Fournier, president and director of operations says. “When you come in and get a turkey sandwich, it’s more than that. The cheese is from Wisconsin, and the turkey is as good as you can get.”
D. Brian’s mantra is better eating through all-natural ingredients, with sustainable products and relationships. Besides the fresh, healthy and organic emphasis, dishes are made to order with flexibility in mind. “The cool thing about our stuff is if you don’t like something, you can take it off,” Fournier says. “The base price on all of our salads allows you to [substitute] as much as you want.”
The chicken Santa Fe salad is a top seller. A spicy dressing heats up pico de gallo, black beans, corn kernels, romaine lettuce, chicken breast and crunchy tortilla strips. Wraps and bowls, many served with chicken, are also popular.
Tasty soups and salads come with all you can eat garlic breadsticks. D. Brian’s shakes up the routine with a changing selection of 10 soups. All made from scratch daily.
Adaptability is the key to success in an ever-changing restaurant business. “Years ago, vegetarian was an item,” Fournier says. “Today it is a category.” D. Brian’s strives to stay on trend and that includes trying new recipes. For example, an employee suggestion for Reuben soup is in the testing phase. Even with the emphasis on innovation, the much-admired cranberry almond chicken salad and other mainstays remain without alterations.
What was once a sandwich-heavy approach now focuses on healthy eating with salads, breakfast and grilled items. The menu changes at least two times a year, sometimes quarterly.
Catering offered by D. Brian’s has expanded and handles more family events these days. “Still, [corporate] business is our bread and butter,” Fournier says. The company takes pride in fulfilling big orders fast, sometimes in just a few hours, though a 24-hour notice is appreciated if possible.
Few restaurants have been around for 30 years. Success comes from the ability to be “nimble and quick to make changes on the fly, maybe quicker than a big company that does similar things,” Fournier says. “D. Brian’s is locally owned and has been since day one.” Even the D. Brian’s name hails from the founder’s first initial and middle name. (His full name is Douglas Brian Sams).
The company’s open-minded management style also makes a difference. Employees can have a say and work their way up, as the general manager of the France Avenue location, Antonio Pinos, did. The company management recognizes the value of employee input and takes a family approach to the business. “It’s a big company but a small company,” Fournier says. “The door is always open, and emails are always opened.” In fact, the executive team has direct contact information listed on the company website.
Edina’s two D. Brian’s locations stand as testimony to the restaurant’s longstanding popularity here. The Edina west location on Lincoln Drive ranks as the second busiest of the company’s seven Twin Cities locations. “It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of a restaurant,” says Edina west manager Steve Husom. “The Edina community has always been very friendly and easy to appreciate what you have to offer. It’s nice to see the same friendly faces come in each and every day.”
The lunch hour is especially busy, and the place fills with regulars. D. Brian’s is a part of many a hungry patron’s workday. “At Edina west right on that corner, [customers] can walk in from Opus Park,” Fournier explains. It’s the only D. Brian’s location open on Saturdays, “because we get a nice clip of business.” Quick, nutritious breakfasts and lunches bring in a stream of 400 to 500 people daily.
The newer France Avenue location, open less than two years, serves around 200 people daily. It’s tucked away in the 7700 France Building, serving predominately business and corporate clientele. Everyone is welcome. Be sure to check it out.