Breakfast sales are booming, and consumer demand is showing no signs of dropping. While the trend is clear, some restaurants are still reluctant to embrace breakfast due to the strain all-day breakfast can put on staff. Kitchens can become cramped and hectic when additional items are offered on menus, and servers may have a harder time turning tables.
“Dinnertime is easy,” says Susan Berkowitz, co-owner of The Breakfast Club, Etc. in Lake Placid, New York. “Your costs are relatively low with regards to what you can charge, and you can use more staff. But a fantastic server who can handle 6–8 tables at dinner can only handle four high-speed tables at breakfast, because of coffee and water refills.”
In a tough restaurant environment, many businesses cannot afford to ignore the potential earnings that all-day breakfast programs offer. Additionally, breakfast can actually offer strategic advantages, says Logan McCoy, a corporate chef for Nestlé Professional.
“Breakfast all day can single handedly bring more revenue and range to any restaurant’s menu,” he says. “Breakfast all day is easier for the operator and better than continuously introducing new menu items, daily specials, or limited-time offers. These marketing tactics can cause confusion with the customer and increases the operational complexity of the restaurant.”
Here are a few ways restaurants can make all-day breakfast offerings less stressful.
1. Multipurpose Ingredients
Offering wider breakfast selections all day can increase demands on storage space with new products, but strategically using ingredients in several different recipes can increase kitchen efficiency. When a few key ingredients are used across many dishes, fewer SKUs are needed, meaning less prep work is needed and less food is wasted, further reducing restaurant expenses.
“Managing the complexity of additional ingredients and added options to the menu poses challenges; however, these complexities pay for themselves with lower plate costs,” McCoy says. “These lower plate costs allow operators an opportunity to offset some of the areas where they are seeing increased costs, such as labor.”
By reducing the need for extended kitchen labor or for products, restaurants can still increase margins and guest traffic without significantly increasing menu prices.
2. Limit Prep Work
With a reduced labor supply and increasing payroll costs, it is no longer possible for many restaurants to make every item they serve from scratch. Limiting prep work can save room in crowded kitchens, reduce the number of tasks kitchen staff members must perform during busy times, and can improve product quality and consistency, especially when cooks’ attention is divided across different dishes.
Choosing high-quality pre-made and speed-scratch items can ensure restaurants offer great tasting food with less kitchen and budgetary strain.
“Products that offer scratch made taste are always in demand but especially today given labor challenges faced by the industry,” McCoy says. “Breakfast options such as eggs, toast, and pancakes are easier to execute for the average person than many traditional items, but if you want to get a little more creative high quality products can be hard to come by. Chef-mate Country Sausage gravy, for example, offers scratch-made taste and easy execution for biscuits and gravy, which is popular with consumers.”
3. Manage Space Effectively
Preparing breakfast alongside menus from lunch or dinner can create chaos in a kitchen if space isn’t managed effectively. That’s why Chris Milton, owner of the Toasted Yolk in Houston, Texas, separates the lines in his kitchen for breakfast and lunch.
“Competitors do not serve lunch on the weekends because of the volume that they do for breakfast,” Milton says. “It’s about space. When you’re dealing with pancakes and French toast, that all takes up space, so to combat this, we segment our kitchen so that our guys can cook both at the same time.”
Segmenting kitchen spaces into zones can help improve efficiency and reduce stress. It’s also important to pay attention to how demand changes by day and adjust employee deployment strategies accordingly.
“On the weekends, space poses the biggest issue,” Milton says. “During the week breakfast comes off one side of the line, and lunch goes on the other, so they work together seamlessly. On the weekend, you have to commit pretty much the whole kitchen to breakfast due to demand.”
Berkowitz uses a similar strategy. Because her restaurant is located in a tourist town, she sees demand for breakfast later than the traditional daypart, yet many customers also want lunch items. This means that her team must be strategic when menus shift.
“When we switch to lunch, we still have breakfast, so we have to take a line that was all breakfast and remove the things that we stop serving,” she says. “We take off a third of the breakfast menu and try to stay ahead of the game with prep.”
Though all-day breakfast can add new challenges to kitchens, high consumer demand and growing sales make it hard to ignore this cultural shift toward expanding daypart borders. By using smart strategies, restaurants can eliminate the added stress on kitchens and servers while growing the bottom line.