There is no question that breakfast is a consumer favorite. The once early morning meal is now an all-day staple throughout the industry, and even concepts that are only offering breakfast within its traditional daypart are seeing growth. Ensuring that a restaurant’s breakfast offerings remain profitable, however, requires changing dishes with enough frequency that consumers do not become fatigued with the same old offerings. Here are a few simple ways restaurants can build fresh breakfast menus for 2018.
1. Know Your Demographics
“A good starting point when refreshing a menu is to get a sense for the brand’s core and ideal customers,” says Bryon Coleman, vice president of sales for the foodservice and international divisions at Jones Dairy Farm. “Different demographics look for different types of attributes in products.”
He says that millennials, for example, are adventurous and crave bold flavors. Healthful options are consistently important for younger consumers, as well as Baby Boomers and Gen X, who are more health-focused as they age.
2. Use Safe Exploration
While consumers do want new dishes, it’s important not to take exploration too far and alienate customers. “You have to be a little bit careful because the more you sway off the traditional path, food offerings become more polarizing,” Coleman says. “If you get too crazy, you’ve whittled down the number of people who might be willing to try it.”
Small twists on familiar favorites can entice consumers while offering them a safer way to try new flavors or ingredients. “Sometimes small tweaks, like different bread types, different types of cheeses, and things like that on breakfast sandwiches, go a long way in making a really subtle change,” Coleman says.
3. Consider Trends
Though it’s important to offer dishes that aren’t as polarizing, that doesn’t mean restaurants can’t try trendy offerings, too. Sometimes new seasonings or varieties are very appealing to customers.
“Don’t be afraid to mix things up,” says Chef Dominic Iannarelli, director of restaurants at Splash Seafood and Jethro’s BBQ, both based in Des Moines, Iowa. “People think breakfast can be really traditional whether it’s pancakes or waffles, but go out on a limb with mashups of flavors or techniques from other cultures.”
This strategy can be exceptionally effective when paired with a familiar base, Iannarelli says. “Start with an ingredient people are familiar with like bacon, breakfast sausage, or chorizo and twist it into bold ethnic flavors. Instead of a full-on ethnic dish, bring in Canadian bacon so that the guest is familiar with the protein, and then use that product with other flavors from another culture.”
4. Don’t Forget the Bacon
Another way to keep menus fresh is to keep using superstar proteins that have strong consumer appeal, like bacon.
“Even with all the trends going different ways, pork is still going to be king in breakfast, whether that’s chorizo or sausage or ham or bacon,” Ianarelli says. “Take those familiar pork proteins and make twists.”
For example, he suggests pairing bacon with other proteins to add some of that beloved flavor while creating a fresh offering. Another option would be using bacon to season a broth for breakfast stew to elevate the flavor, or even using it to finish off a bloody mary for brunch.
But even the best dish can be brought down with bacon that doesn’t offer tremendous flavor, so it’s important to use high-quality products.
“Bacon is the hero in many dishes, and it’s being used in more ways than ever before, with different smokes and flavors being infused in its application,” Coleman says. “It’s all about flavor. At the end of the day, it’s not just about having bacon—it’s about having bacon with tremendous flavor.”