When Cherrywood fast-casual shop Bird Bird Biscuit opened just over a year ago, the tiny restaurant was selling out of biscuits so fast that it had to temporarily shut down and double its production. The Eater Austin 2018 Fast-Casual Restaurant of the Year now has its biscuit system down to a science.
When Bird Bird co-owners Ryan McElroy and chef Brian Batch opened in June 2018, they would make biscuits for the next day’s service starting at around 4 p.m. through midnight. The process was time- and energy-consuming. “We’ve gotten a lot more streamlined,” Batch, the driving force behind the biscuit recipe, said.
Bird Bird now boasts its own offsite biscuit-making operation near the restaurant, where the next day’s biscuits can be made during service. This dedicated dough room was necessary, as McElroy explained, “flour gets everywhere — ungodly everywhere.”
That results in nearly 200 biscuits every weekday. On the weekends — Bird Bird’s busiest days — that number jumps up to about 600. This means over 2,000 biscuits every week. And the house recipe didn’t happen overnight or by accident. It took about a year and 500 hours of work to get it just right.
Batch used a base recipe from a close friend and chef. He then made it hundreds of times, changing the recipe slightly for each iteration. Now, he has a team that assists in the process, which is still ongoing. The perfect biscuit is constantly evolving. “It’s still a journey,” Batch said. “We’re still making little tweaks and trying to improve it to where we can to make it more efficient.”
McElroy gives Batch much of the credit for turning the biscuit into something special. “It takes a very particular kind of personality to sit there and do the same thing, just for all of the subtleties, all of the nuances,” McElroy said. “And Brian went all the way down that rabbit hole.”
The biscuits are the foundation of the menu, which features traditional breakfast biscuit sandwiches, like the Bird Bird Bacon — crispy bacon, over-medium egg, cheddar cheese, and a bacon-infused chipotle mayonnaise; and more lunch-appropriate options like the Queen Beak — a spiced chicken thigh coated in cayenne-black pepper honey.
McElroy and Batch originally weren’t going to focus on biscuit sandwiches. Bird Bird was meant to serve coffee, juices, and smoothies. They changed their minds eventually, and decided to just perfect the biscuit sandwich. They had met while working at McElroy’s Thunderbird Coffee for ten years before deciding to do something together. (In fact, Bird Bird still operates under the name Batch Juice & Coffee, LLC.)
Another rollout on the horizon for Bird Bird Biscuit is the addition of new lunch sandwiches, which means more savory fillings, to solidify Bird Bird’s reputation as a breakfast and lunch spot. But the two will never rush out a project.
The Queen Beak sandwich alone took about a year of development. And McElroy and Batch approach each new addition to the menu, whether it be a special (like its collaborations with taco trailer Discada and others) or permanent, the same way. The pair are in the process of traveling for hot chicken sandwich research, a new dish they hope to serve late this summer.
“We want to blow people’s minds,” McElroy said. “That’s part of the reason we keep slow-rolling things out: because it has to be really, really good.”