pancakes with berries

Go Big on Breakfast in Restaurants & Foodservice Operations

Breakfast is the fastest-growing meal of the day! In fact, breakfast visits increased 4% for the year ending in May 2015, according to NPD, while lunch and dinner visits were flat.

Despite that, Technomic data indicate that it’s also the most skipped meal, due to consumer issues of time, desire for lighter options and affordability. Addressing those concerns and doing it better than the competition means more opportunity to build sales and satisfy patrons.

Play to Convenience

A lot of consumers skip breakfast or grab something at home because they’re in a hurry and don’t think they have enough time for anything else. The key to winning their business is to make breakfast as quick and convenient as possible.

  • Design menu items for portability. Breakfast sandwiches are growing in popularity, and, apart from egg-and-cheese, sandwiches can even be signature items, with interesting breads (focaccia, pita, naan, pretzel rolls), specialty meats (fresh crab or lobster, prosciutto, smoked fish), flavorful condiments, distinctive cheeses (pepper jack, ricotta, cotija) and variations on the usual fried egg, from omelets to a slice of frittata on a roll.
  • Create a call-ahead feature – or even an app – that allows customers to order breakfast on the way and have it ready when they arrive; this even works for dine-in business, as a variation on “express lunch.”
  • Go where the customers are with kiosks, carts, walk-up windows and food trucks that promote grab-and-go; many hospitals and colleges, in particular, have carts strategically placed and offer coffee, refrigerated juices and other beverages, as well as baked goods, fresh fruit and other morning noshes.
  • Install a serve-yourself coffee station with branded dispensers, urns or thermal pots so your guests can pour themselves coffee, decaf or tea easily. Stock with creamer, sugar, stirrers, napkins and other accessories to ensure a full experience.

Let There Be Light

Breakfast doesn’t have to be heavy and high in calories. Offer lighter, better-for-you choices ranging from lower-fat options and a selection of sugar substitutes to entire menu sections designed to support health and wellness.

  • Offer healthy choices, like fresh fruit, yogurt parfaits, whole-grain cereals and granola and smoothies, and lighter selections, such as veggie omelets, avocado toast, oatmeal and trendy breakfast grain bowls.
  • Call out “superfoods,” such as blueberries, dried plums (prunes), walnuts, avocados and sweet potatoes on the menu and offer items that feature them.
  • Make it easy for guests to substitute egg whites, turkey bacon and lower-fat cheeses in existing menu items; nutrition-hungry guests will love you for it.
  • A significant number of consumers are avoiding carbohydrates in an effort to lose weight, so consider offering a salad with colorful vegetables, interesting side vegetables, like steamed asparagus, or off-the-beaten-track fruit as substitutions to breakfast staples like hash browns or home-fried potatoes.
  • Many of today’s consumers are avoiding gluten in their diets, so be sure to offer gluten-free options and identify them as such on your menu.
  • By the same token, the popularity of plant-based diets is growing for health reasons; every breakfast menu should include meatless items, such as a spinach-and-feta scramble (vegetarian-friendly but still appealing to any diner) and vegan sweet potato pancakes.

Offer Value

Breakfast has always been an affordable option relative to lunch and dinner. Double down on value in the morning daypart to continue that trend.

  • Take a page from the success of combo meals with a Coffee Combo: offer a special package deal that pairs coffee with a muffin, bagel, pastry or even simple breakfast sandwich. Coffee is so profitable – and so in demand – that you can afford to set a compelling price point.
  • Position your operation as a place to meet friends or conduct business with comfortable seating in tables or booths, attentive service that encourages groups to linger and flexibility about separate checks.
  • Any-hour breakfast is trending with QSRs, which are seeing increased profits as a result. Consider offering breakfast straight into lunch – and beyond.
  • Provide free Wi-Fi for younger diners and people who are dining alone. Many consumers will seek out a refuge where they can work or read the news away from the office, roommates, or a hectic family life.
  • Don’t forget to menu the time-honored breakfast special, a simple meal of eggs and bacon, potatoes, toast and coffee or tea for one inviting price.