Wendy’s has set a date for the introduction of its national breakfast launch: March 2.
The burger chain said Tuesday that it will start offering the daypart nationwide in one month, triggering a potentially huge battle in the fast-food business among some of the largest chains in the U.S.
“People deserve a delicious, affordable and higher-quality breakfast than they’re currently getting,” Wendy’s President Kurt Kane said in a statement.
Competition in the morning has already dented McDonald’s traffic, forcing the company to work hard to defend a daypart it has long dominated. The Chicago-based burger giant has introduced a pair of new chicken-centric breakfast sandwiches nationwide and has focused on drive-thru speed to improve morning sales.
Wendy’s is also walking into a daypart that has been fought vigorously by most of the country’s biggest chains.
When Wendy’s introduces breakfast, it will mean that eight of the 10 largest U.S. chains serve breakfast food in the morning, potentially prompting a massive marketing fight as the companies stake their claims to the growing daypart.
Those eight include Taco Bell, which added breakfast in 2014, and Burger King, which is aggressively working to build its morning business.
A ninth, Subway, has breakfast in some markets. But its breakfast business also shows how difficult this market can be: It gave operators the option to stop serving morning subs.
For Wendy’s, the effort will be a massive test. The company has tried to expand into breakfast several times over the years, only to pull back each time.
In 2015, then-Wendy's CEO Emil Brolick told Bloomberg TV, “It’s very difficult to enter that space today and commit the kind of marketing resources that we feel would be necessary to really entrench ourselves successfully.”
That makes the move a notably bold one for current CEO Todd Penegor, who explained the company’s rationale for entering the breakfast market on the Restaurant Business podcast “A Deeper Dive” last year.
Company executives believe they can get a lot of sales quickly, making it a $1 billion business in relatively short order. “We’re absolutely confident this is going to work,” Penegor said in October.
Wendy’s is putting its Twitter account on the job. The company began the morning on Tuesday by daring McDonald’s to roast the company. (McDonald’s, unsurprisingly, didn’t take the bait.) Wendy’s Twitter account plans to become a “morning person,” with some limited content during the early morning hours.
Wendy’s is targeting its breakfast at drive-thru customers and will serve items such as the Breakfast Baconator that take advantage of its existing branding.