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Food

Re-inventing brunch

When the Scottsdale, Arizona-based Z’Tejas rolled out its new brunch menu in March, the number of selections doubled—and only one item was a holdover from the old menu. “We wanted to create a brunch you couldn’t get anywhere else,” says R&D chef Matthew Janiec, who oversees all 11 locations. Here’s what he did to overhaul the menu.

Differentiation with a capital “D”

Janiec’s goal was to build signature items with Southwestern flair that would get people coming back. Instead of the usual Eggs Benedict, for example, he offers Bloody Mary Eggs Benedict ($10.95), served on cornbread with chipotle Hollandaise, chorizo and fried spinach.

“As a Southwestern concept, the kitchen has access to a wide variety of bold flavors and ingredients,” he notes, adding that 99 percent of the products he uses are cross-utilized from lunch and dinner. “The only new SKU I’m bringing in is jalapeño bacon. Everything else is made fresh, in-house.”

It’s all about the execution

Although the brunch menu boasts 15 new entrees, several didn’t make the cut. “We have to factor in execution. ‘Can we make this dish in a timely manner?’ No guest wants to wait 20 minutes for brunch,” Janiec explains. That’s why the breakfast tacos were scratched. The taco “shell,” formed from a freshly-made pancake, just took too long to prepare and fill.

After six months, the team will re-evaluate the menu to see what’s selling and what’s not. “Some things start strong, then peter out,” Janiec admits. “If an item doesn’t resonate with guests, we’ll take it off the menu, no matter how much we love it.” Sometimes, a few tweaks will save it.

The skillet soars to the top

 “Breakfast skillets are extremely popular, so we wanted to offer one with our own twist,” Janiec notes. The Chorizo Pork Scramble Skillet ($12.95) starts with the chorizo-stuffed pork tenderloin featured on the dinner menu, which is chopped and layered with seasoned potatoes, green chile mole sauce, Cheddar and Jack cheeses, scrambled eggs and bacon gratin. “The gratin is a savory blend of panko crumbs, grated Parmesan and jalapeño bacon. It really elevates the skillet’s crunch and flavor factor.”

Make-your-own cocktails

Another brunch goal was to get guests involved in the experience. At Z’Tejas new “Weekend Fun Bar,” they can step up and create custom bloody Marys and mimosas from four bloody Mary mixes, 60 accoutrements (hot sauces, pickled peppers, etc.), fresh juices and fruits and top shelf spirits. At $4 a cocktail, it’s been a huge hit and profit center.

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