Vibe Out: ‘The Breakfast Klub’ owner encourages entrepreneurs to “fight like hell!”
Written by Nakia Cooper on March 31, 2021
If you don’t know the man, you definitely know his food. And if you don’t know his food, then where the heck have you been and what are you waiting for? Houston’s legendary “The Breakfast Klub” is the delectable brainchild of Texas Southern University alumnus Marcus Davis, who is an entrepreneur, restaurateur, political commentator and motivational speaker. Davis is best known for his charismatic personality, authentic customer appreciation, and his tireless commitment to the communities he serves.
Davis came up with the concept for The Breakfast Klub after recognizing a void in the market for a unique breakfast restaurant serving signature items in a soulful, relaxed environment. He chose two of his favorite dishes from opposite ends of the country – “Katfish & Grits” from the East Coast and “Wings & Waffles” from the West Coast, and the rest is history. Since opening in September of 2001, the restaurant has become a top tourist attraction, as well as the local favorite breakfast spot, lining up droves of cheerful patrons on a daily basis.
So, we wanted to “Vibe Out” with Davis to speak about what continues to motivate him, in addition to what’s happening in the world today.
Vibe: In addition to the world-famous “The Breakfast Klub” and “Reggae Hut,” what other businesses do you have?
Davis: “Kulture” – An urban comfort kitchen that specializes in reimagined southern classics located in downtown Houston
“Alley Kat Bar & Lounge” – Located in Midtown. Alley Kat is the after-work hangout spot with some of the hottest DJs and a place to go for live entertainment on the weekends.
Vibe: What do you feel is the best feature of your restaurants…the food or the atmosphere, or is it something else?
Davis: I believe that there is not just ONE feature that is better than the rest. At each concept, we strive to provide an excellent dining experience. That starts with the moment you arrive. We greet each customer with “Welcome to _________.” From there, we will make the customer aware of what we have to offer and how to order. We strive to make each customer as comfortable as possible. At each concept, the ambiance is set with music that fills the air and suits the atmosphere that we want the restaurant to have. The sounds you hear are curated to enhance your dining experience. The food served is prepared daily using fresh ingredients, to produce a quality product. It is a combination of our commitment to excellent service, a quality product, and a remarkable dining experience that makes our restaurants great.
Vibe: How have you adjusted during COVID?
Davis: When COVID-19 forced us to close in-person dining options, we launched an online ordering system with the option of curbside pickup. This allowed customers to place an order through our website and pick up without leaving their vehicles. We also purchased more PPE for our employees to protect them while interacting with customers. In addition to that, hand sanitizer was made readily available for anyone who needed it.
Once we could open for in-person dining, we started with dining on the patio only. This allowed customers a safe space to dine and make our employees feel safe as well. We increased cleaning protocols for all dining spaces, changed our drinkware, flatware, and condiments to disposable items, and made sure to enforce physical distancing for those waiting to place their orders. Eventually, we opened the dining room with limited seating to physically space tables from one another. We have maintained our increased cleaning operations and still enforce physical distancing.
Vibe: What do you do to give back to the community?
Davis: We believe that we have a responsibility as a member of the community in which we reside to aid that community in whatever way possible. Whether it be through teaching children about the value of entrepreneurship, hosting voter registration drives, donating meals to those in need, or simply providing a place for individuals to come together, we strive to find ways to make a difference. Since the pandemic hit, we have provided food for frontline workers at hospitals, medical clinics, and grocery stores. We have teamed up with Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center to host blood drives that aided in the fight of the Coronavirus and replenished their reserves after Winter Storm Uri.
Recently, we had the opportunity to celebrate the TSU Men’s Basketball team for winning the SWAC Championship with breakfast at The Breakfast Klub.
Vibe: Besides being a restaurateur, you are very outspoken as a community and political advocate. What can you say to motivate people to stay involved?
Davis: All local and all national campaigns start and stem from things on the ground. Those campaigns also address issues on the ground and that is why it is important to be intricately involved on the grassroots level as an entrepreneur in the community. There is an intrinsic relationship between the community and the entrepreneur. One needs the other and they feed off of each other.
Vibe: How do you feel about the renewed interest or national push of supporting Black businesses? Do you think it will be short-lived?
Davis: It is exciting – extremely exciting – and it will only be short-lived if WE allow it to die down. There is an obligation and a responsibility for the community as a whole to keep it live, vibrant and thriving because it is very necessary for us to build Wakanda. Wakanda didn’t get built by the colonizers, it was built by Wakandians.
Vibe: Any advice to entrepreneurs or small business owners fighting to stay afloat during these challenging times?
Davis: Fight. Fight like hell. Fight like your life depends on it. Fight like your business depends on it. Fight like your community depends on you, because it does.
Vibe: Last question, tell us about your Texas Southern University experience!
Davis: Going to Texas Southern University was one of the highlights of my lifetime. It was incredibly special to be on the campus and be a part of the 3100 Cleburne community. To walk down the halls of my mother and father’s alma mater, to walk down the halls of several great women and men who have helped make this city and nation what they are; following in the footsteps of Barbara Jordan, Mickey Leland, Kase Lawal, and beyond. Those things are incredibly valuable and hold a special place in my heart. My experience at an HBCU is priceless, to say the least, which is why all of my children have to do their undergraduate studies at an HBCU. It is important for us to understand the value that our HBCUs add to our communities. It is important for us to understand the investment we must make in our HBCUs and take our best assets – our children – and put them into best opportunity for a return on investment from our colleges and universities.