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Dish R&D: Breakfast Melt

06 April 2006

A hearty sandwich pressed on a panini grill heats up the morning menu at Sodexho's Jazzman's Café.

This article first appeared in the 15 February 2006 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.

By Allison Perlik, Senior Editor

Twice the fillings doesn't mean double the price for those who buy the Breakfast Melt, the latest a.m. introduction from Allentown, Pa.-based Jazzman's Café. Instead, the 156-unit bakery-cafe concept hopes to drive sales through volume, offering a hot, premium product as a value proposition. The sandwich delivers two eggs and two slices of American cheese with a choice of three pieces of bacon, two sausage patties or two slices of Canadian bacon on pita-style flatbread for $3.29.

"If a sandwich is overpriced, it won't sell," Director of Product Development Rob D'Orsi says of the Breakfast Melt's menu price, which compares to a range of $2.29 to $2.99 for competitor counterparts with half the amounts of cheese, eggs and meat. "We would rather not mark it up as much and sell more."

Launched as a limited-time promotion in November 2005, the Breakfast Melt rotates as a regular choice at Jazzman's, one of six signature concepts from Retail Brand Group LLC, a division of Gaithersburg, Md.-based Sodexho USA. Previously introduced breakfast sandwiches (on bagels, muffins or toast) are packaged as grab-and-go options; the Breakfast Melt is heated to order on panini grills already in place at most units.

Pourable egg products require less labor and cleanup, but D'Orsi prefers whole eggs for their freshness and visual appeal. Because Jazzman's can be operated as stand-alone facilities, kiosks or carts, cooking methods depend on unit equipment. For the sandwich, eggs are cooked in rings on griddles or in ovens (on preheated sheet trays to prevent running). Bacon strips, sausage and Canadian bacon also are prepared in advance, components assembled and held under refrigeration.

Introducing a new product into kitchens also opens opportunities for further menu additions, D'Orsi says. "Sometimes ideas are triggered just by bringing in a new ingredient for one item. Once the product is in the system, we can use it without distribution issues."

DISH: Breakfast Melt
COMPOSITION: Two eggs and two slices American cheese on flatbread with bacon, Canadian bacon or sausage patties
TIMELINE-R&D THROUGH INTRODUCTION: 4 months
MENU PRICE: $3.29
FOOD COST: 22%

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