Five years ago, The Biscuit Bar founders, Janie and Jake Burkett, couldn’t imagine they’d be the owners of a local restaurant chain, but Janie says she is thankful—and happy to talk about it and the tragic loss at the heart of their family, their business, and The Biscuit Bar’s annual March of Dimes fundraiser during November, National Prematurity Awareness Month.
“The Biscuit Bar came out of Brycee Jo’s story,” Janie says through tears. “I get to talk about her. People get to remember her. Even though it’s hard, I get to say her name.”
The story of the Biscuit Bar started in 2016, when the couple became pregnant for the first time. Janie and Jake are the definition of childhood sweethearts; they’ve known each other since they were in third grade. They were eager to start a family, and were surprised when the doctor told them that not only was Janie pregnant, she was having triplets.
But it wasn’t all good news. The Burketts lost one triplet in the first trimester and the remaining two had umbilical cord defects. The Burketts were told that if the two remaining girls were still alive at 24 weeks, Janie would have to spend the rest of her pregnancy in the hospital for monitoring, and when she delivered, the babies would go straight into the newborn intensive care unit (NICU).
More than 400,000 babies are born prematurely every year in the U.S. Even babies born four to six weeks early are at risk for serious health problems. Premature birth can cause breathing difficulties and feeding problems and can even affect brain functions. Premature babies face higher chances of infection and, in the most tragic cases, death.
Some premature babies are delivered at only 24 weeks, when they are only 500 grams. “That’s so small,” Janie says. “How do you fit an IV in that vein? It’s the size of a hair.”
Janie gave birth at 28 weeks and four days. She remembers how terrifying it was to hear every day about other babies in the NICU who didn’t survive. “For babies at 28 weeks, the survival rate is 80 percent,” she says. “Out of five children, one won’t make it. I saw children die on a daily basis.” When a child was lost, she could read it on the nurses’ faces. One day all the nurses in the NICU seemed to be having a particularly hard day. When Janie asked, she found out that one mother’s premature triplets had all passed due to independent causes.
When Janie’s girls were born, they did well at first. Blake was two pounds, 14 ounces and Brycee Jo was one pound seven ounces.
“They were so little their diapers were the size of business cards,” Janie recalls. “We called them our little nuggets.”
Even though she was smaller, Brycee Jo was more stable at first. In fact, she was the first of her daughters that Janie was able to hold in her arms. However, two weeks after her birth, Brycee Jo was diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a devastating intestinal infection. Within about two and a half hours, she had passed. Blake remained in NICU for two months before they were finally able to bring their daughter home.
For the entire Burkett clan, it was a strange time of mixed hope and grief. They were also living in quarantine because Blake was immune-compromised. Many premature babies suffer lifelong health effects.
“The original idea for The Biscuit Bar was rooted in this tragedy,” Janie says.
On New Year’s Eve, Janie and Jake hosted a New Year’s Eve party with a DIY biscuit bar, homemade biscuits with all kinds of toppings: scrambled eggs, bacon, fried chicken, sausage gravy, maple syrup.
“We did it for comfort, for us and our families. And we loved it,” Janie says. “Then we thought others might love it too. When we first started talking about it, I thought it sounded like a really bad idea. The restaurant industry is very risky, and we know less than nothing about restaurants. It seemed like a recipe for disaster.”
And yet, 16 months later, they opened The Biscuit Bar in 2018 at The Boardwalk in Plano. The Biscuit Bar is known for its biscuit sandwiches and tator tots. Popular options range from the Fancy Chicken, fried chicken and dill pickles, to the F.A.B.B, sweet fig preserves, arugula, crispy bacon, and brie, to the Rough Night, a whopping biscuit extravaganza with fried chicken, burger patty, ham, turkey, pulled pork, crispy bacon, tots, cheddar and house-made sausage gravy.
“Just recipes we like,” Janie says and jokes that she’s still always surprised when someone other than her family eats there. Despite that, DFW foodies and families have embraced The Biscuit Bar with such enthusiasm that they now have five locations in DFW and plans to break ground on two more in Texas soon.
Their family has also grown. Blake recently turned four, and she is thriving. Then Banner came along, then Byron was also born.
Every single one of the Burkett children was born premature. Needless to say, the March of Dimes cause is very close to their hearts, which is why this November, at every location, The Biscuit Bar will donate 100 percent of sales from every order of Biscuit Nuggets to March of Dimes in honor of Brycee Jo. Additionally, The Biscuit Bar has launched a limited-edition purple hat with all proceeds benefiting the nonprofit.
“So many children are continually being born premature,” Janie says. “March of Dimes does a holistic approach to healthy moms and babies.”
March of Dimes has been operating in the US for 80 years, serving premature babies and their families. Their goal is to “level the playing field for all moms and babies,” to give everyone the best possible start in life. Their efforts range from pioneering research—all the way back to the polio vaccine—to raising awareness about premature birth, the number one cause of death in infants.
As for Biscuit Nuggets, they’re a Biscuit Bar signature: deep fried biscuit bites, vanilla caramel, and house-made whipped cream.
“Also people have the ability to round up their change, and on our app, anybody can go into it and donate directly to March of Dimes,” Janie adds.
Last year they did the fundraiser for the first time and raised $3,700. This year, their goal is $10,000
For the Burketts, this fundraiser speaks to the heart of their business. “Our hope is that people leave with a positive impact,” Janie says. “2020 is a hard time in everyone’s lives. Maybe it just provides a break for people, a 20 minute break from life to enjoy a biscuit. This food was comforting to us during a hard time in our lives, and we want it to be comforting to others in theirs.”
The Boardwalk at Granite Park
- Sun – Thurs | 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- Fri – Sat | 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Where: 5880 TX-121 Ste. 102B, Plano
More: 469.238.2227 | thebiscuit.bar