Bob Evans is hoping to encourage its core audience of families and people over 40 to dine there more frequently and, like Maggiano’s, also attract millennials who gravitate to restaurants for brunch.
Fisher says the brand’s brunch menu highlights chicken and waffles, ham biscuit benedict, and candied bacon. But it also offers a green goddess salad to appeal to the guests that are fitness buffs and calorie-conscious.
Maggiano’s brunch menu consists of 12 items, including meatball benedict, crab cake benedict, smoked ham benedict, lemon ricotta pancakes, and crème bulee French toast. It takes some of its core items, like meatballs and crab cakes, and turns them into benedicts, incorporating them into its mid-day menu.
Guests who are fitness enthusiasts can customize their breakfast at Maggiano’s and ask for yogurt, for example, Konecny explains. Marathon runners aren’t likely to order the Italian American breakfast of eggs accompanied by sausage, bacon, and a piece of toast.
Fisher is quite explicit about what Bob Evans is trying to achieve with its new brunch menu. It’s “all about revenue generation. We’re trying to create a new segment where people consider brunch all day. We need to give people more reasons to try us,” he says.
Sluggish sales didn’t precipitate the new brunch menu at Maggiano’s, Konecny says. “Industry headwinds” didn’t drive it, he says. Instead his team of enterprising chefs considered what menu items would best appeal to guests, which motivated developing brunch more than focusing on revenue.
Fisher acknowledged that Bob Evans previously served eggs benedict but eliminated it from the menu about five years ago. “We’re bringing it back, mostly because people love our biscuits. They’ve been clamoring for it,” he says.
To promote it, Bob Evans introduced a media blitz of TV and radio ads in the 250 markets it serves coupled with advertisements on Facebook. “We want to own it before the rest of the world gets into it,” he says.
At Maggiano’s, the marketing is more low key, with no print, TV or radio campaigns to launch it. Rather Konecny says the company is “leveraging its internal email data base and letting our loyal users know about it.”
Though brunch was traditionally a special meal offered only on weekends, making it available daily at Bob Evans enhances the size of the audience and boosts sales. “There’s no reason to just focus on weekends. We can make it available to people at work, or friends who want to try it during lunch,” Fisher says.
Previously, most Maggiano’s opened at 11 a.m. or noon for lunch, so opening for brunch at 10 and 11 a.m. is a subtle departure for them. At most Maggiano’s, five of the brunch items, including four of the benedicts are served Monday to Friday and the full complement is served on weekends.
Offering brunch is a strategic move for Bob Evans and Maggiano’s to jumpstart sluggish revenue, says Kevin Moll, president of Denver-based Restaurant Consultants Inc. “Most operators are wise to explore every meal part, if possible,” he says. But to thrive both chains must market it as separate menu items, not an extension of preexisting ones, he advises.