Josh Beckett – Anna’s House
In 2005, a year after his first meal and not wanting the business to close, he purchased the business from Becky Miller, who was no longer interested in owning the business.
Since then, he and his team have been focused on providing the same personal experience he first enjoyed, even as the COVID-19 pandemic made dining less personal nationwide, with online ordering, curbside pickup and digital menus in place of table service.
“During and due to the pandemic, we felt that guests became starved for connection and places where they could interact with other people,” Beckett says. “As everything became touchless and distanced, we wanted to retain connections, continuing to make people feel that you can bring your family and friends here to enjoy a nice, chatty sit-down breakfast or lunch.”
Inclusivity in indulgences
Anna’s, which has several locations throughout Michigan, is focused on the dine-in experience with servers taking orders at the table rather than expanding an online menu or focusing on curbside pick-up and to-go orders.
The range of menu items stems from Beckett’s conviction that no customer should feel embarrassed about their dietary preferences and needs—the way he felt when he went gluten-free about 10 years ago. He recalls having so much trouble and feeling ashamed for eating differently than what some may consider the norm. He says other Anna’s team members experienced similar occurrences.
Accordingly, the menu has symbols underneath each item indicating whether it’s vegetarian or dairy free or if it has a vegan or gluten free option. The menu also has a vegan favorites section.
Realizing that even people within the same family have different dietary needs, Beckett and his team were determined to make Anna’s House a place where anyone could enjoy their meal. After all, he says, why shouldn’t guests with specific dietary needs enjoy a pancake outside their home?
“It’s not just about health needs,” he says. “Someone may be craving an indulgent, calorie-rich sweet breakfast—like our Twilight French Toast—while someone else may want a protein-rich, savory start to their day with an egg-white omelet.”
He and others at Anna are also focused on bringing in higher quality, healthier products that can include chemical-free meats and cage-free eggs, depending on availability. Moreover, they’re aiming to have Anna’s House provide more organic options in the future.
This approach has won the restaurant the Best Breakfast in Michigan award in 2013 and numerous other awards since that time. Even when supply chain issues during the pandemic meant Beckett had to shrink the menu, he did so only once—and grudgingly at that, he adds.
“We really like to connect with our guests,” he says. “We even have quarterly features on local TV stations where our corporate chef talks about new items, like the new Breakfast Tot or Peanut Butter Crunch French Toast we featured this summer.”
Serving up benefits for staff and servers
Anna’s House staff receive the same amount of appreciation and focus from Beckett. In fact, they are a major reason why he’s never expanded the menu to include dinner.
“One of our greatest attributes is that we only serve breakfast and lunch, so team members get late afternoons and evenings for personal or family time,” he says. “It’s a wonderful quality of life.”
Beckett adds that Anna’s House offers competitive pay and flexible scheduling, which is great for students, parents and even those working full time. He’s made sure to offer medical, dental and vision benefit options for anyone working over 30 hours. The Employee Assistance Program offers counseling and other support and is available to all employees, while those in leadership positions have access to a retirement saving plan with matches.
“We try very hard to take care of our team,” he says. “While we set up the programs, we also ensure we have a strong general manager at each location because we believe leadership sets the tone.”
Of course, Beckett also makes it a point to visit all the locations frequently. Part of the reason for that is his ever-abiding love and passion for the hospitality industry. He never went to college, but he says he always had a vision to work alongside others and make people happy.
“I go in with my family as often as I can to not just enjoy the delicious food but experience it from the customer’s side—which, after all, is how I got started with Anna’s House,” Beckett says. “I love where we started and what we’ve created over the years—and I look forward to where we’ll evolve to in the future.”
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