This article first appeared in the 1 September 2005 issue of Restaurants & Institutions (R&I).
R&I is the USA's leading source of food and business-trend information and exclusive research on operators and restaurant patrons. Editorial coverage spans the entire foodservice industry, including chains, independent restaurants, hotels and institutions. To find out more about R&I, visit its website www.foodservice411.com
How do restaurants shake up morning meals? For a daypart that thrives on tradition, quality enhancements often are enough to invigorate sales. Except for brunch menus, which straddle breakfast and lunch, success at the early meal continues to be built on basics. Something as simple as a better coffee blend or artisan breads often is enough to boost business.
Although just 11% of industry traffic is generated by the a.m. meal, chains see pre-lunch hours as pure potential. Chick-fil-A, for instance, has enhanced its breakfast-board lineup not once but twice since November. A breakfast burrito and sandwich came first, followed in June by an upgraded coffee program and Cinnamon Clusters.
Novel ways to package breakfast classics have spawned a thousand portable variations. With its Enormous Omelet Sandwich, Burger King proves that even omelets can be handheld while McGriddles from McDonald's have done the same for pancakes.
The menu at Egg, recently opened in New York CIty, pays nearly fanatical attention to quality ingredients. Whether grits or Kentucky ham, sausages or scrapple, Chef George Weld nabs attention with artisan products rather than highly creative preparations.
On the Menu
Some of the creative ways foodservice operators start customers' days:
- Kielbasa, scrambled eggs and home-fried potatoes. -Cornell University, NorthStar Dining Hall, Ithaca, N.Y.
- Country Boy Breakfast: grilled ham, pork chops or steak; three eggs to order; fried apples; hash-brown casserole; grits; Sawmill Gravy; and house-made biscuits with butters and preserves. -Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, multiple locations
- Funnel cakes with whipped topping, confectioners' sugar and choice of fruit. -IHOP, multiple locations
- Meaty Breakfast Burrito with ham, sausage, scrambled egg, shredded Cheddar and pepper-Jack cheeses in flour tortilla with side of salsa. -Jack in the Box, multiple locations
- SkyCity Eggs Benedict: Crab cakes, poached egg and béarnaise sauce on English muffin, served with roasted red potatoes (brunch menu). -SkyCity at the Space Needle, Seattle
- Ham, egg and cheese on Texas toast. -Sonic Drive-In, multiple locations
According to R&I's 2005 Menu Census, these foods are most commonly menued: