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Longtime breakfast specialists try new tricks to capture p.m. sales

All-day breakfast is growing as a dining-out trend, with McDonald’s the latest player to test the waters. Millennials’ appetites seem to be feeding the trend. According to research company Technomic, 42 percent of young people want breakfast-for-dinner options.

While some concepts are just waking up to the possibilities of extending breakfast hours, Denver-based Village Inn, operated by American Blue Ribbon Holdings, has been serving all-day breakfast since 1958. Its sister company, 44-unit Bakers Square, has been in the game since 1999. But that’s not to say these value-oriented full-service chains haven’t changed with the times.

The 212-location Village Inn, for example, has jumped into customization with its “My Incredible V.I.B.”—a create-your-own breakfast from a choice of 30 options. “It puts guests in control to customize their meal at a great value [$7.49],” says Jeff Guido, president of ABRH’s family-restaurant division.  New items, such as the Spicy Chicken Cheesy Hash Brown Scrambler and a Blazing Chorizo Omelet are clearly aimed at more adventurous palates. A side of pancakes is an option with any item.

Breakfast quiches are a long-time signature at Bakers Square, but recent menu introductions include Bananas Foster Stuffed French Toast and a Chicken-Fried Steak Skillet with sausage gravy, potatoes and two eggs. Average check is $10.

“Our menus work because they attract all demographics,” says Guido. “About 25 percent of sales are from the breakfast daypart, but we see a spike toward breakfast items after 8 p.m. and until midnight.” Those late-night breakfasters skew toward the millennial generation and younger, he adds. Most Bakers Square locations are open until 11 p.m.; Village Inn is open until 2 a.m. on weekdays and 15 percent of the stores are 24/7, positioning it well for the breakfast-for-dinner crowd. 

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