The Magazine of Elon, Fall 2010
The Magazine of Elon and Honor Roll of Donors, Fall 2010. Elon University's alumni magazine.
traditional Southern biscuits in the pizza ovens and oﬀering them with all the ﬁ xin’s. The endeavor was a hit. “With the success of our biscuits, we wanted to try an all-biscuit restaurant,” said Maurice, quoted in a 2009 book about the restaurant written by High Point entrepreneur Phil Johnston. “Naturally, we called it Biscuitville.” The ﬁrst Biscuitville opened in Danville, Va., in 1975, and a second quickly followed in A sheboro, N.C . T he biscuit business was so prof- itable, Maurice decided to convert all of his Pizzavilles into Biscuitvilles. By 1982, the chain had grown to 25 restaurants. Burney’s ﬁrst real taste of the family business came in high school, when he and his sister, Fran, worked two-week stints in Biscuitville and Maurice’s other ventures. Burney’s interest was piqued. He chose to attend Elon, where he studied business, ﬁnance and accounting. “I knew about Elon growing up, and I knew it was a good school,” Burney says. “Even though my dad was on the board of trustees, he didn’t push Elon on me, but it was a great choice for me.” While Maurice didn’t pressure his son to attend Elon, he worked tirelessly to advance the institution. A leader in the corporate, social and community circles of Burlington and Greensboro, Maurice never attended a recep- tion, cocktail party, dinner or trip at which he wasn’t trying to interest someone in Elon or arranging to introduce Young to potential donors, the former president recalls. “Not many board members or volunteers associated with Elon during my 25 years did more work for the institution outside our board meetings than Maurice,” Young says. According to Young, Maurice helped strengthen the connection between Elon and Dalton L. McMichael, whose gifts funded the McMichael Science Center. He also helped build Elon’s relationship with Jim Melvin, former mayor of Greensboro and current president of the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation, whose support was critical in establishing the Elon University School of Law. When Burney graduated from Elon in 1987, he immediately put his skills into action for the family business. After working brieﬂy with Maurice’s real estate holdings, Burney became Biscuitville’s treasurer in 1988 and worked his way up the leadership ladder. Yet, as he gained experience in each aspect of Biscuitville’s operations, he continued to face a signiﬁcant personal and professional challenge. “You have big shoes to ﬁll being the son of the founder,” Burney says. “For me, the biggest challenge was developing my own way, recog- nizing that I don’t have to ﬁll his shoes – I can be my own person.” And, he says, Maurice was more than willing to accom- modate his growth. “He has the unique ability to give you a job, then let you do it without standing over you,” Burney says of his father. “He was able to let me learn and make mistakes, which is very unusual for a father/son team. We have a tremendous amount of trust between us.” Maurice oﬃcially passed the Biscuitville baton to Burney in 1996, though he remains chair- man of the company’s board of directors. Under Burney’s leadership, Biscuitville has expanded to 58 restaurants in North Carolina and Virginia, employing more than 1,000 people and bringing in more than $50 mil- lion in sales annually. Burney also has ably carried on the family’s tradition of service to Elon, serving as a trustee since 2000 and giving generously of his resources and expertise to support the university. He and his wife, Dina, a 1987 Elon graduate, were founding donors to the Elon University School of Law, and they joined Maurice and his wife, Linda, in making a gift to endow the Jennings Professorship at the school in 2008. “As a distinguished alumnus, Burney brings wisdom, an entrepreneurial spirit and a deep commitment to Elon to the board of trustees,” says Elon president Leo M. Lambert. “As a member of the board’s executive and develop- ment committees, as well as the recent strategic planning committee, Burney has provided invaluable leadership during an exciting and challenging time in the university’s history.” The Jennings family has returned to cam- pus as often as possible, including a trip in August 2006, when Maurice received the Elon Medallion, which recognized his many contri- butions to the university. Maurice and Burney again visited campus this past September, when Burney shared words of wisdom with students at the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business’ annual Legends of Business lecture. Burney hopes to see another family tra- dition continue. While his oldest children, Blake and Bailey, chose to attend Wake Forest University, he hopes one of his younger chil- dren, Mary Frances or John, both in high school, will mark the fourth generation of the Jennings family to attend Elon. Nevertheless, so long as there’s a sign with that familiar yellow rolling pin anywhere near campus, mornings at Biscuitville will continue to be a ﬁxture in the lives of Elon students and a vital inclusion on any visiting alum’s itinerary. “We are proud of our relationship with Elon,” Burney says of Biscuitville, “and that so many students and alumni love our biscuits.” Did you know? Lake Mary Nell is named for Maurice Jennings’ oldest daughter. Alumni share Biscuitville memories on facebook “Biscuitville was the home-cooked breakfast you missed your mom making for you!” EVE YEDZINIAK HAMRICK ’92 “I remember that Biscuitville brought me good luck the day I took my Praxis exam. I had two biscuits with bacon, egg and cheese, and a large orange juice. I passed with ﬂying colors!” ALEX KENNEDY ’03 “I still have to stop in Biscuitville when I travel from Atlanta to Maryland. I had to introduce it to my husband!” RACHEL EANES ’95 “It was our favorite Sunday morning spot. It was especially fun to see professors and administrators in their Sunday best while we were in T-shirts and sweatpants!” SHARON ANDERSON DAVIES ’04 “Our marching band leadership and our director, Tony Sawyer, would meet at Biscuitville on Huffman Mill Road for breakfast before every home football game. Go Phoenix!” DAVID MORROW ’07 L’10 “Oh my goodness, I do miss Biscuitville!” BOBBIE BOWLAND KEENAN ’91 “Matt Brolley ’07 brought me to Biscuitville for our ﬁrst date. Six years later, we got married!” ABBY JOYCE BROLLEY ’07 the magazine of elon 25