At a Glance
Construction department employees
Average project duration
More than 80
Before any flapjacks are flipped in a kitchen at a new The Egg and I location, Mike Michaelis is considering natural gas sources and accounting for exhaust shafts. Before his team ever excavates a grain of soil, he’s sampling the site for bad dirt that could jeopardize the integrity of the structure. Such are his concerns as director of construction for the brand, which serves breakfast and lunch across the United States, with a heavy presence in Texas and Colorado, its home state.
The Egg and I’s CEO, Bill Baumhauer, and its president and COO, Don Lamb, brought on Michaelis from M2 Development Services, Inc. as a third-party director, and they’ve retained him for seven years. It was a move that has saved them overhead thanks to Michaelis’s unique expertise, developed over many years of work, and he now sees the restaurant chain as a living laboratory that continues to offer him lessons.
“As soon as I think I have it figured out, I learn something new at every store,” he says. “Whether it be a better way to engineer captive-air systems, mechanical systems, etc., I always try to learn best practices.”
Michaelis joined The Egg and I in 2005 after consulting for the restaurant chain on franchise development. He now works to keep the brand expanding on schedule and at a healthy pace without going over budget. At any given time, Michaelis has 12–15 stores under development, and he’s accountable for ensuring that each one has the essentials, avoids the preventable, and is prepped for the unexpected.
Each site presents a different set of circumstances that Michaelis must keep in mind throughout construction. If a store is to inhabit an existing space, Michaelis doesn’t have to do the legwork of planning and zoning, but he still has to account for other location requirements, including a minimum 3,600 square feet of space, 10-foot-6-inch ceilings with three to four feet of plenum clearance, a meeting room, and three exit doors. And before a restaurant’s walls are finished, he must make sure all plumbing and electrical rough-ins are properly located and routed.
Additionally, when Michaelis has to plan for a patio, he considers the angle of the sun and its effect on the dining experience. If parking is involved, he must choose the right configuration to optimize visitors’ access during times of high traffic.
And of course there are the unknowns. “Any time we do a budget, we have a line item for contingencies that we just don’t know,” Michaelis says. In one case, the extra variable was a second layer of concrete buried underneath an otherwise optimum site, which the construction team had to cut through before laying its trenches.
Beyond his practical construction-management duties, Michaelis provides The Egg and I with strategic council as well. He warns against grand openings that can’t beat the holiday season because he knows potential staff will flock to part-time retail jobs. And in states where the bite of winter lingers past January, he cautions against early launches altogether.
With the construction of 45 The Egg and I restaurants and $43 million in sales during Michaelis’s tenure, his value is quantifiable. He jokes that he keeps his pace with his smartphone in hand and a dogged lack of sleep. There’s no break in sight for the director of construction as the brand continues to expand, but maybe he’ll find time to stop for some breakfast. ABQ
Meet Mike Michaelis
Where did you go to school?
I went to the University of Kansas and majored in industrial design and business administration.
What was your first construction job?
I started in architecture doing drawing development. The first project I oversaw was Champps Entertainment in Valley View, Ohio, in 2001.
How did you wind up working for The Egg and I?
At a previous company, I helped them develop their franchise-development program. [Now], I review the site before construction and look for items as they relate to the cost of the build-out. I design the layout for each space, and I oversee various aspects of the build-out to keep us on track—such as purchasing, installing, quality, time, pay, and submittals.
What personal goals do you have in your current role?
Just to continue to successfully develop restaurant projects and deliver customer satisfaction.