One ingredient is helping the brand appeal to guests in the morning daypart.

According to market research company NPD Group, quick-service restaurants suffered a 35 percent drop in morning meal consumption during the height of COVID-19. Surprisingly, full-service chain Another Broken Egg experienced the opposite. The chain instead opened three locations during the pandemic, with storefronts reporting higher sales and average checks than years prior.

“People aren’t going to get that morning bagel with cream cheese anymore,” says Jason Knoll, vice president of culinary for Another Broken Egg. “They’re getting out for breakfast, but they aren’t making their choices based on speed. They’re going to have an indulgent breakfast they can’t get from a quick serve, and that’s why we’re growing.”

In order to give consumers offerings they can’t get at a normal quick-service restaurant, the 74-unit chain has been featuring distinctive ingredients—particularly watermelon—on its menu. Knoll says watermelon is ideal for a year-round menu.

He exemplifies the fruit’s versatility with the brand’s Tacos Verano dish, which balances heavy breakfast taco components with a specialty watermelon salsa. The combination results in a unique meaty profile and crunchy texture, which Knoll says guests have enjoyed. Now the brand is in its second year offering the taco and has incorporated the entreé in 60 of its locations. But if positive guest reception remains consistent, the brand plans on incorporating the watermelon-infused item into its core menu.

One of the reasons why guests have responded so well to watermelon in the restaurant setting is because of contemporary consumer values. Knoll says consumers care about mitigating waste, and watermelon is a virtually wasteless item. From pickling the fruit’s rinds to serving it within a specialty drink, Another Broken Egg can use watermelon as a feature or as a side.

“When we changed from a standardized cantaloupe, honeydew, grape, and strawberry mixture three years ago, we tripled the amount of fruit that we sold. Nobody was eating it because it wasn’t in season, and it wasn’t unique,” Knoll says. “When you give consumers fruit in season, there’s higher production and there’s more of it. The consumption of it went up. It’s even more craveable when it’s got something like watermelon. And it’s just so accessible most of the year.”

Watermelon’s success can even be seen qualitatively, as Knoll adds that while the standardized fruit side often went back to the kitchen uneaten, he doesn’t see the same result when he serves seasonal fruit mixes featuring watermelon. These menu changes within Another Broken Egg’s COVID-friendly business model have catapulted the brand along a strong growth trajectory. The brand has 30 more franchisee-led brick and mortars in the works and is planning to open 13 locations throughout 2021.

While Another Broken Egg is using watermelon to navigate pandemic uncertainties, Knoll says the power of the fruit is in its ability to be a stable, well-received food.

“[Watermelon] is just inherently this really good sweet and savory vehicle,” Knoll says. “It’s a versatile product and it’s unique. It’s right there in front of every chef.”

To learn more about how watermelon can enhance your menu, visit the Watermelon Promotion Board website.

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