A fresh take on breakfast

Aside from the standard glass of juice or fruit cup, most chain menus don’t offer a whole lot of produce at breakfast. It’s a different story at First Watch, the breakfast, brunch and lunch concept based in Brandenton, Florida. “Daily chalkboard specials take advantage of seasonal produce and there’s flexibility on our regular menu to feature the freshest available,” says Chris Tomasso, chief marketing officer.

first watch Floridian toast

For example, the menu lists the requisite fruit bowl, but no specific fruits are mentioned. “Strawberries, raspberries, bananas and kiwi are the mainstays now, but later in the spring, blueberries will be included,” Tomasso notes. Cantaloupe, honeydew and pineapple sub for each other as availability dictates. Florida locations of First Watch are able to buy more local fruits and vegetables than those further north, but if the best product is out of Mexico or South America, the purchasing department will source from there.

“We use one produce company that identifies vendors and purveyors who meet our specs. We need consistency of quality and size across all our locations,” Tomasso adds. Deliveries are made five times a week and all the fruits and vegetables come in fresh and whole to be cut up in house—notable for a chain with nearly 100 units.
The number of breakfast and brunch items that feature fresh produce is also impressive. It’s natural that fruit would be featured in The Healthier Side menu section, where it shows up in a yogurt parfait and the new Energy Bowl—a hearty serving of housemade granola or muesli. But the waffles, pancakes, crepes, French toast and omelets often have a topping or side of fruit as well. Floridian French Toast is described as “covered with fresh bananas, kiwi and berries,” with the flexibility for seasonal adjustments.

In March, First Watch started roasting fresh vegetables in their restaurants to use in omelets, frittatas, breakfast hashes and sandwiches. House-roasted zucchini, tomatoes, crimini mushrooms and onions are now on the menu with more to come. “Efforts such as roasting vegetables in-house demonstrate to our customers that we value variety, quality and freshness just as they do,” says Tomasso.

Now in season:

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Chicory
  • Fava beans
  • Fiddleheads
  • Peas
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberries

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Older brands try new tricks in their quest to stay relevant

Reality Check: A number of mature restaurant chains are out to prove that age is just a number.


At Papa Johns, delivery shifts from its own apps to aggregators

The Bottom Line: The pizza delivery chain’s business with companies like Uber Eats and DoorDash is thriving while its own delivery is slowing. But this isn’t the beginning of the end of self-delivery, CEO Rob Lynch says.


How the shift to counter service has changed Steak n Shake's profitability

The Bottom Line: Sardar Biglari, chairman of the chain’s owner Biglari Holdings, details how the addition of kiosks and counter service has transformed restaurants.


More from our partners