Food

Smashburger enters the breakfast arena

The better burger chain has expanded its test of the morning daypart and plans to offer it at all new stores going forward.
Smashburger breakfast
Photo courtesy of Smashburger

There’s a new entrant in the breakfast wars: Better burger chain Smashburger.

The 250-unit fast-casual brand launched a test of all-day breakfast at 10 units and recently expanded that pilot to 30 locations.

“It’s doing really well,” Smashburger president Carl Bachmann told Restaurant Business. “It’s up for us.”

Bachmann said there’s no set date to roll out breakfast service systemwide at the Denver-based company, but that the test will continue to expand and that the daypart will be added to all new stores.

“We know the traffic patterns have changed,” he said. “The traffic had changed and people were looking for comfort. A lot of those frontliners were working and looking for options. It really has worked out well for us.”

Smashburger’s breakfast menu includes an Egg & Cheese Sandwich on toasted brioche served plain or with either bacon or sausage. There’s also a Breakfast Smashburger, toped with an egg, bacon and aged cheddar on toasted brioche. The sandwiches can be complimented with Breakfast Tots, hot and iced coffees, and several varieties of milkshakes made with cold brew coffee and Haagen Dazs ice cream.

So far, breakfast hasn’t put a big strain on operations as the chain has largely leveraged existing product lines.

“We’ve done some innovative things with how we prep and how we schedule,” Bachmann said. “From an operations standpoint, it wasn’t that difficult.”

Breakfast has been a bit of a wild card amid the pandemic, as large numbers of workers shift to eating cereal in their home offices instead of grabbing breakfast sandwiches on their way into work.

Wendy’s, which only started serving breakfast last year, credited breakfast with helping its sales climb 7% during the third quarter, though morning sales were still down slightly from the previous quarter and at the low end of the chain’s earlier forecasts.

“In the face of the pandemic, with mobility being down, we’re very happy with how our breakfast business has been performing,” CEO Todd Penegor told analysts during a Q3 conference call. “We’re feeling very bullish on the future of breakfast.”

McDonald’s breakfast sales took a dive early in the pandemic but recovered by September. But breakfast sales at Taco Bell declined to about 4% of total sales in the third quarter, down from about 6% of sales pre-pandemic.

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