Trends in breakfast? The morning meal is just eggs and bacon or toast and a cup of coffee, right? Not anymore. For today’s operators, success during breakfast means rising above today’s competitive market with unique menu choices and staying on top of changing consumer demand and evolving food trends.
The effort is certainly worth it, especially for convenience- and takeout-oriented operations; for instance, breakfast accounts for nearly half of sales at Hardees, which just released a new signature Pretzel Breakfast Sandwich, consisting of an egg, sausage patty and two kinds of cheese on an Auntie Anne’s soft pretzel roll bun.
According to Technomic, the opportunity to increase breakfast sales is significant, both by appealing to those consumers who otherwise eat breakfast at home or skip it altogether and by making traditional breakfast foods available during other eating occasions, particularly during off-times such as midafternoon or late night.
The key is to provide a wide variety of convenient and affordable foods that appeal to many tastes and need states. Here are some trends operators can play to:
While Technomic cautions that all-day breakfast menus and brunch-themed menu items can potentially cannibalize lunch and dinner sales, there’s no question that breakfast foods are proliferating in new dayparts and eating occasions, in sync with the consumers’ round-the-clock eating. Marketing breakfast items as snacks, particularly by targeting younger consumers who are especially likely to order breakfast for between-meal occasions, may drive incremental fare between breakfast and dinner.
- The Late Night Nosh menu at the Five Spot in Seattle includes a Late Night Breakfast item featuring eggs any style with bacon, sausage or ham as well as potatoes and toast.
Healthy breakfast options
Many breakfast skippers do so because they’re trying to eat less, according to Technomic. Offering such healthy choices as fresh fruit, yogurt parfaits, whole grain cereals and oatmeal, and lighter items such as an egg white omelet with turkey bacon will go a long way toward enticing these customers.
- First Watch, the breakfast-lunch-and-brunch chain headquartered in Bradenton, Florida, has created The Healthier Side menu section with such options as avocado toast, a granola-based Energy Bowl, a fresh fruit bowl, and the Healthy Turkey, an egg-white omelet with turkey, roasted onions, spinach, tomatoes and feta, served with a dry English muffin.
Hot on the heels of popular breakfast tacos and burritos, restaurants are doubling down on other ethnic breakfast inspirations, from Mexican migas and chilaquiles (eggs scrambled with tortillas chips) to Lebanese yogurt, hummus and flatbread with olives. Ethnic breakfast items are especially in demand by millennial and Generation Z diners, says Technomic.
- At the Plaza Food Hall, a multi-concept restaurant marketplace in New York City, customers can enjoy global breakfast options such as Italian frittatas, French tartines or crepes and Japanese miso and grilled fish.
Better breakfast sandwiches
Sandwiches at breakfast are quick, convenient, portable and fun. They’re also getting more interesting—and not just at quick-service restaurants. Treating a morning sandwich to the same care and creativity as the rest of the menu, with high-quality breads, distinctive fillings and flavorful condiments, will always pay off.
- The Front Room in Portland, Maine, menus a fried-egg sandwich with blue cheese, bacon and aioli on grilled French bread that’s so popular it’s also served at lunch.
Mix-and-match omelets, made-to-order smoothies, build-a-bowl concepts…it’s all part of the industry-wide trend of customizable menu platforms, which allow patrons to put together a personalized meal from a range of different carriers and base mixes, topped with their choice of proteins, cheeses, sauces, condiments and more.
- OatMeals, an oatmeal bar in New York City, offers a build-your-own concept that starts with steel-cut oats made with skim milk or water and a selection of more than 80 a la carte toppings that range from fresh and dried fruit, nuts, seeds, sweets such as chocolate chips and savory items including chopped bacon and peanut butter.
These new, elevated takes on morning meals show that breakfast is evolving—and with a little creativity, operators can seize this opportunity and boost their own morning sales.
This post is sponsored by Butterball Foodservice