by Charles McGuigan
Early Bird Biscuit Co, with two locations now, one in the Fan and the other in Bellevue, seems to be consistently recognized as Richmond’s premier purveyor of home-made biscuits. “Recently, we were blessed enough to be recognized by Richmond Magazine, which is a local publication,” says Early Bird owner Tim Laxton. “And this wasn’t a peer award. This was folks who took time out of their day to actually vote for us. In the breakfast category they voted us the best biscuit or breakfast sandwich in Richmond.”
Early Bird biscuits have also been singled out nationally. Two years back, Garden & Gun magazine listed Early Bird as one of the top ten biscuit destinations in the South “worth the drive.”
“And our ham biscuit was recognized by the Food Network,” says Tim. “We use Edwards Ham out of Surry, Virginia. None of that other stuff. No imitations.” Early Bird’s also been featured on the Cooking Channel’s Cheap Eats.
We’re sitting at an enamel-topped table in his shop on Bellevue Avenue. They’ve just locked the door after a busy morning, and Tim still sports his baker’s shirt. He’s been very pleased with the North Side location.
“We’re really loving the new faces over here on Bellevue Avenue,” he says. “It seems there are a lot of younger folks coming to the neighborhood, and I’m liking the new energy we’re finding over here. It’s a nice diverse mix of people. It shows our price points are where they need to be. I mean where can you go and get a cup of coffee and a biscuit for under five bucks? And they’re made with the best ingredients and made with a lot of care.”
Earlier this summer, Early Bird teamed up with Canon & Draw Brewing Company in the Fan for a popup series. “It’s been a fun run to add a few things outside of what we’re doing with the bakery, kind of get out of the bakery and get outdoors and meet some new people and collaborate with some of the beers they’re making,” Tim tells me.
Tim, who was bred-and-buttered on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, has a strong sense of community, and a desire to always give back. To that end, this past spring, Early Bird Biscuit’s Fan location hosted a “gospel brunch” to benefit Feed the Streets RVA. “Feed the Streets is a local organization that is very focused on the community and helping out folks that are down on their luck,” Tim tells me. “We had a gospel choir come in and there was some real energy in the building that day.”
All the proceeds from that entire Sunday went directly to Feed the Streets. ”We wrote them a check for about $1,500 that day,” Tim says.
On hand that day this past May was a film crew. “They shot an episode for American Road Trip that will be broadcast on Netflix in the fall,” says Tim. “It just keeps happening, it’s so cool.” And then with his customary humility, Tim downplays himself. “It’s not me, man,” he says, “It’s my team. I couldn’t do it without them.”
He has instructed his entire staff of 12 employees to always show appreciation. “I instill in all of the people that work for the bakery that you have to make sure that you thank the customer, and you have to also realize that they’re the people that pay your salary,” Tim says.
And every employee is paid well. “Not a single person that works for either of the bakeries makes less than $12.50 an hour,” says Tim. “I’m not getting rich by doing that, but I think it does impact the level of service that the customers get. It keeps people from going to the fast food place.”
Tim Laxton leans back in his chair. He raises his arms in a stretch. “Five years later after our inception, I think it’s pretty cool that we’re still being recognized and we’re still relevant,” he says.
Early Bird Biscuit Co
1221 Bellevue Avenue
119 North Robinson Street