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Maurice Jennings, founder of Greensboro-based Biscuitville dies

Maurice Jennings, founder of Greensboro-based Biscuitville dies

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GREENSBORO — Biscuitville's approach has always been as folksy as the 1986 TV ad where an Elvis Presley impersonator called its signature food "a big ole fluffy biscuit."

Since Maurice Jennings opened the first Biscuitville in 1975, the company has grown to 63 restaurants from Lynchburg, Va. to most of North Carolina. And during its success, the company has recruited several generations of the Jennings family, remaining a family business with a focus on old-fashioned Southern breakfasts.

Jennings, of Greensboro, died Saturday at 86. Funeral arrangements are incomplete, according to Hanes Lineberry Funeral Home. 

The company sells every kind of breakfast food from scrambled eggs to pancakes, but the biscuit is at the heart of what made Jennings a success. 

Like many entrepreneurs, he made a couple of detours before hitting on the Biscuitville formula. 

Jennings, a former flour broker, opened two Mountainbrook Fresh Bread & Milk stores in Burlington in 1966, according to the company's website. 

The next year, he opened several Pizzaville restaurants.

But Jennings' failing, he admitted to a News & Record reporter in 1997, was "I didn't know anything about pizza."

He expanded his business to biscuits in the morning, introducing the "jelly bar" for people to add toppings to biscuits.

Jennings told the News & Record that jelly was a flop, but the biscuits sold.

"So we kept the biscuits," Jennings said.

He opened the first dedicated Biscuitville in Danville, Va., in 1975 and expanded quickly southward throughout North Carolina. 

Beginning in the 1980s, the small restaurants started opening only for breakfast and lunch, closing at 2 p.m.

And Biscuitville moved its Alamance County headquarters to Greensboro in 2007. 

Biscuitville has also maintained its Southern approach with an expanded menu in 2014 it called "Fresh Southern," and experimenting with such menu items as fried okra. 

In February, Jennings received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the N.C. Restaurant & Lodging Association. 

But for some, the company may always be remembered for its Elvis-themed ad where an off-camera Elvis impersonator tells a man in a truck he should be eating at Biscuitville instead of fast-food hamburger joints. 

"That ain't cool," the impersonator tells the man, "you ain't been to Biscuitville for lunch."

Contact Richard M. Barron at 336-373-7371 and follow @BarronBizNR on Twitter.

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