By K. Dawn Rutledge
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Some people may debate whether skipping breakfast is good or bad, but who can resist the flavor of fluffy buttermilk pancakes, cheesy omelets and skillet potatoes washed down with fresh squeezed orange juice? At least not those frequenting Nashville’s newest breakfast, brunch and lunch spot – Wild Eggs.
Last April, Tennessee State University alumnus Sekou Charles ventured into the new opportunity helping to introduce the first Wild Eggs in the Nashville area. As general manager and partner of the restaurant, located in downtown Nashville on 333 Union Street, Charles has worked hard to help the city re-discover why breakfast shouldn’t be missed.
“This is an upscale dining experience for those who want a fresh, contemporary approach to traditional breakfast, brunch and lunch,” said Charles, adding that the restaurant strives to deliver optimum service and food to all guests.
With Charles at the helm as general manager, the Wild Eggs chain amassed quite a bit of traction in the Nashville area. Open seven days a week, the restaurant now averages $30,000 a week in sales, and its prime location attracts many city residents, as well as visitors who walk the downtown area and are discovering the restaurant for the first time. The success of Charles’ Wild Eggs location has prompted the company to look at opening additional shops in Middle Tennessee, including a Bellevue location slated for 2017.
“The growth opportunities are endless here,” Charles said. “Nashville has grown so much and it is certainly the place to be now. I see it as the next Atlanta, but maybe even better.”
Charles, a Chicago native, made his way to the Music City to attend Tennessee State University not knowing anything about the school, but only wanting an opportunity to move outside the state of Illinois for a fresh start away from his inner-city environment. He applied and was accepted to TSU in 1992 and admits it was a different culture from his experience.
“Why is everybody smiling?” he recalled asking himself during his first few months on campus. “I’m from Chicago and everyone has to be on guard because you might get jacked.”
Charles eventually learned to brush the chip off his shoulder, quickly making friends and becoming more social.
“I discovered that some people are actually genuine and sincere. It made my wall come down and it allowed me to open up.”
In 1997, the marketing management major took his first job out of college as manager of Luby’s Cafeteria, a casual dining restaurant chain, to support his twin children. Little did he know this job would put him on the path to a successful 18-year career in the restaurant industry.
“At the time, this was not what I came to school for because my dream was to be working at a marketing firm,” he said. “But they [Luby’s] were the only place that gave me a shot and I fell in love with it. Now, I realize sitting behind a desk eight hours a day just wasn’t me. I still use the knowledge I learned from my marketing degree at TSU and I put those skills to use daily. It has been rewarding to be involved with people and being part of a team.”
Charles continues his ties with his alma mater volunteering and mentoring current students. He also appreciates the fact that many of his fellow alumni have been highly supportive of the Wild Eggs restaurant.
Ranetta Smith, who has been friends with Charles nearly 20 years, met him as a student at TSU. Smith, owner of Ranetta Renea’s Boutique in Smyrna, Tennessee, said she frequents the restaurant often and enjoys the atmosphere and the food.
“When I first visited the restaurant I tried the chicken and waffles and it was amazing,” she said, adding that the yellow submarine is also among her menu favorites. “I eat there at least four times a month. The menu items are very reasonable and the food is really good. Everybody who goes once always wants to go back. There’s something for everyone. It’s worth it!”
Charles is among hundreds of alums who will be attending TSU’s 2016 Homecoming that began Oct. 9 and ends Oct. 15 with the game against Ohio Valley Conference rival Eastern Kentucky University. To learn more about this year’s Homecoming events, visit www.tnstate.edu/homecoming.
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About Tennessee State University
With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.