HURRICANE, W.Va. — Known for its made-from-scratch biscuit sandwiches, Tudor’s Biscuit World has been a staple of Appalachian cuisine since it first opened and is one of the only fast-food chains of its size to originate in West Virginia.
Elizabeth Epling, the marketing director for Tudor's, shared some facts about the growing chain, including that, in total, Tudor’s has 74 locations, with its 75th opening soon in Inwood, West Virginia, spanning from the Northern Panhandle to the most southern part of the Mountain State.
Most of its locations are in West Virginia, with seven locations in Ohio, five in Kentucky, and one in Panama City, Florida, which opened in 2016. Additionally, Epling says, each is owner-operated.
“Even though we are a large company, we are still locally owned and locally operated, and all the owners of our locations are invested or working in some way of the operation itself,” she says. “I think that’s a cool, fun fact.”
Tudor’s also offers an extensive breakfast menu, with pastries, beverages, buffet-style platters, and specialty biscuits for call-ahead and pickup catering. In March 2023, Mashed.com named Tudor’s as the best restaurant chain in West Virginia.
The Tudor family founded Tudor's Biscuit World.
“I think Tudor’s is the taste of home,” Epling says. “Tudor’s cultivates community, which is one of the biggest reasons it strikes a chord with so many people. It’s food that makes you feel like you’ve come home to your Appalachian grandmother’s cooking.”
The Tudor family is still involved in the business. John Tudor, the son of founders Bill and Mae Tudor, operates most of the Huntington locations, and his son, Pat, owns a location in Lexington, Kentucky.
“The original Tudors family is still very much involved and invested in the brand,” Epling says.
Tudor's and Gino's restaurants are often found together.
For many, Tudor’s Biscuit World is synonymous with Gino’s Pizza and Spaghetti House. While Gino’s was not founded by the Tudor family, over the years, the two have grown together in a partnership thanks to Gino’s founder, Kenney Grant, and businessman and current CEO, Oshel Craigo.
“Gino’s is our sister company, what we consider our sister company,” says Epling. “Kenney Grant asked Oshel Craigo to get involved with the brand pretty early in its creation, and Mr. Craigo grew that brand to the location amount that it has.
“He started opening his own Tudor’s locations with a combo Gino’s location inside in a lot of places, and that’s why you have a lot of that duality there with both Gino’s and Tudor’s existing in the same place,” she continued.
Craigo saw the idea behind Tudor’s and the concept behind Gino’s and created a link between the two, Epling says.
“Although the Tudor family started it and got it rolling and introduced the idea, Mr. Craigo was essential in the growth, and his partnership is what helped grow and develop Tudor’s into what you know it as today,” she says.
Nearly fifty Ginos are part of the Tudor's brand today, with about 40 with which Epling works, and all either stand-alone stores or sister stores with a Tudor's.
In 1980, the first Tudor’s Biscuit World location opened in Charleston on East Washington Street near the West Virginia State Capitol, attracting many customers, and word of mouth quickly increased its popularity and early success.
“Word spread pretty quickly that they were these sensational sandwiches that were delicious and homemade from scratch, and so the concept spread like wildfire and allowed the Tudor family to open a couple of other locations, expanding into Huntington,” Epling says.
The first Huntington location opened in 1986, around the same time Craigo became associated with the brand.
Tudor's Biscuit World biscuits are named for real customers.
Many biscuits are named after regular customers of the original Tudor’s Biscuit World, including the Ron, Dottie, and Tootie.
“When someone comes in every day, you tend to get to know that person on a first-name basis, so after a while, when Ron would come in every day for his sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit, it became second nature for the person working at the counter to say, ‘Give me a Ron’ rather than a sausage, egg, and cheese,” Epling says.
And for those wondering what the marketing director of Tudor’s Biscuit World’s go-to order is, it’s a Mary B biscuit combo.
“I’m a Mary-B girly,” Epling says. “I love a good Mary-B combo, and I always get a half-cut tea, with half sweet, half unsweet,” Epling said. “I eat there way too much, probably, since I’ve been working here.”
West Virginia Explorer writer Katie Holland contributed to this story.
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