Why Operators Should Capitalize on Breakfast Options

This growing trend creates opportunities to explore new menu items that drive guest traffic.

Breakfast is the fastest-growing daypart in foodservice, and as more full-service restaurants aim to capitalize on the trend, operators are taking a page from their quick-serve counterparts’ playbook.

Americans today are constantly on the go. As time for cooking dwindles and delivery options increase, more and more consumers are choosing to eat their restaurant food away from the restaurant. During traditional breakfast hours, this typically means the customer is on his or her way to work.

To meet the need for more portable food, operators and suppliers are increasingly designing breakfast menus with off-premise occasions in mind, particularly for weekday meals. Consumers want dishes that not only taste good, but are also easy and convenient to eat during the morning rush.

Handheld items and breakfast bowls are two options that meet this need.

A Smucker® Trends Brief reports that sandwiches are the third most popular breakfast entrée on menus, behind egg dishes and breakfast starches. Breakfast bowls—another highly portable option featuring potatoes, eggs and other ingredients—are of interest to 32 percent of consumers, according to Mintel’s Restaurant Breakfast and Brunch Trends. Since customization is also on trend, restaurants can leverage these channels to reach more consumers for their functional weekday breakfast needs.

As off-premise breakfast opportunities grow, offering customizable options and signature, easy-to-eat breakfast dishes can help boost sales, attract new customers, and engage existing customers in a new experience. In fact, the breakfast space has never been more fun, and some high-end chefs consider it the next frontier. Flavors that were once confined to the depths of the dinner menu—spicy, herbaceous, succulent—have come out to play on breakfast menus nationwide. Ethnic flavors, plant-based proteins, and new cooking techniques like sous vide are also giving classic dishes a fresh twist.

For example, the Smucker Trends Brief also reports specialty breads like ciabatta and brioche create the perception of high quality for consumers; breakfast sandwiches featuring doughnuts, pancakes, waffles and French toast as the “bun” make a decadent sweet and savory breakfast handheld; and ethnic flavors can add zing and interest to lighter, healthier versions of classic breakfast dishes. Condiments and sauces like pico de gallo, soy sauce, pesto, mustard, ranch dressing, and hot sauces have also made themselves at home on breakfast menus. Operators should study current trends closely to determine which best fit with their ethos and branding efforts.

Although consumers have plenty of choices in terms of where to source breakfast handhelds, the convenience of drive thrus is ranked higher than all other occasions. Smucker reports that convenience also influences 57 percent of patrons to purchase their breakfast handheld as a takeaway item from a limited-service restaurant. Slightly fewer consumers (56 percent) purchase handhelds when dining in. With more than half of all customers purchasing these items, operators who don’t have a breakfast option may want to reconsider. Operators should also make the ordering experience itself as painless as possible. This may include offering a dedicated line or kiosk for mobile orders, or curbside delivery service in the morning.

With today’s busy lifestyles, easy-to-eat, portable, low-mess breakfast options are both a practical and profitable way for restaurants to differentiate their brands.