It’s Saturday morning all the time

‘Cereality’ founders think outside the box and bring people together

By Cathy Poley

Originally appeared on

(CNN) — For many who walk into Cereality, it is hard not to feel like a kid.

At the quick-serve restaurant that serves customers only cereal or food made from cereal, there are TV screens that show nothing but cartoons, all the servers wear pajamas and you can even have your cereal with chocolate milk.

All four Cereality stores serve more than 30 different brands of cereal, hot and cold, that can be eaten by themselves or mixed and matched.

Behind the counter, customers see glass-front kitchen cabinets showcasing boxes of the many brands they can choose from — a sight that would make cereal fan Jerry Seinfeld weep with joy.

The choice can be daunting, causing some customers to have a deer-in-the-headlights look in their eye.

At the flagship Cereality store at Arizona State University, pajama-clad “Cereologist” Carley Partridge helps customers decide from several combinations and toppings ranging from the classic sliced bananas to the more bizarre options, such as the explosive candy “Pop Rocks.”

“I don’t understand how people can have Rice Krispies and Pop Rocks,” Partridge says. “That’s just too much snap, crackle, and popping for me. But people do that a lot in our store.”

Refrigerator magnets adorn the sides of the “Moo Machine” dispensing milk in varieties from whole to skim to soy.

Customers can sit on stools at a bar that looks like a counter out of someone’s kitchen, pull up to the tables throughout the restaurant, or curl up on comfy couches with a heaping serving of their favorite fix, whether it be Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops or both.

Cereality’s co-founders Rick Bacher and David Roth say that 95 percent of Americans eat cereal and for many people — especially customers trying to get their order in before the 7 p.m. closing time — cereal is not just for breakfast.

Sneaking some cereal

When Cereality was not even a twinkle in their eyes, Bacher and Roth were working together consulting with companies to help them better package and market their products.

Roth says he got the idea for Cereality by watching people enjoy cereal all around him.

While sitting in a friend’s Wall Street office, he did a double-take when he saw his Brooks Brothers-suited buddy sneak out a handful of Cocoa Puffs to eat at his desk.

Roth’s pal confided that he was not the only executive in the office that took workday cereal breaks.

“He said ‘Oh, we all do this. … We all eat cereal. We sneak it. We bring it into our offices,’” Roth says.

Roth also notices other people eating cereal in his day-to-day life. He says he would see “moms with strollers — [on] one side were diapers and the other side Cheerios.”

Roth shared his idea with Bacher, and the pair set to work making their idea a reality.

The partners opened their first store in 2003 in the student union of Arizona State.

Since then, they have opened three more stores: one in Chicago and two in Philadelphia.

The cereal connection

Bacher says Cereality had an advantage that many new companies do not have — customers are deeply familiar with their product.

“It’s an unusual food because [cereal is] probably the only food you have throughout your entire life,” Bacher says. “I think it’s probably the first food that you choose yourself as a young child, walking down that cereal aisle where you own that choice of picking out that box of cereal. It’s something you enjoy your entire life, and you just maintain that connection to it.”

His partner and co-founder David Roth says this connection brings people together in their stores.

At the Philadelphia Cereality, customers spanning many walks of life can be seen sitting together at the store’s 12-seater dining room table, talking about how they like their cereal and asking, “Oh, what did you get?”

“They are so connected to cereal and the rituals that they have with it that last throughout their life,” Roth says of his customers, “and then they find when they go into our cafes and they sit with strangers they are connected to them and conversations begin that are totally unexpected. [It] crosses all demographics, all cultural all economic lines.”

Cereality’s motto is “It’s always Saturday morning.”

“Every time I ask someone, ‘What does a Saturday morning mean to you?’” Roth says. “They all tell me the same thing. It means sitting with my brother or sitting with my sister and watching cartoons having our favorite cereals, having a moment in time.”