CHICAGO —Foodservice brands are searching for the next best morning menu innovation since all-day breakfast. Retailers and quick-service restaurants are competing for the morning daypart with new menu items and meal deals. Getting some customers in stores before noon, however, can be a bit of a challenge. Matures are more likely to visit an eatery for breakfast than any other age group, and the top breakfast occasion driver is an unplanned visit (46%), according to Technomic’s Q3 2018Breakfast Occasion Driver Snapshot.
Check out the strategies operators are using to wake up breakfast sales ...
1. Piling on the meats
For its latest breakfast sandwich, Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based QuickChek Corp. does not hold back on protein. The Boss breakfast sandwich celebrates the convenience-store chain’s New Jersey roots by laying an English muffin with pork roll, a processed meat popular in several Mid-Atlantic states; bacon; sausage; egg; and cheese. The $3.69 sandwich also renews a local debate over whether the meat is called pork roll or Taylor ham.
2. Portable indulgence
This month, McDonald’s began selling its Donut Sticks at all U.S. locations. The morning snacks are fried until golden brown, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and served warm throughout the morning. “It was critical that we perfected them before we brought them to our customers nationwide,” said Linda VanGosen, McDonald’s vice president of menu innovation. “We looked at several doughnut shapes, tested a variety of doughs and even worked to get the amount of cinnamon sugar just right for the recipe.” The recommended price for six doughnut sticks is $1.29, or $2.39 for a dozen.
For a more filling option, customers can spring for the chain’s Triple Breakfast Stacks. The Chicago-based quick-service behemoth launched the item this fall. The sandwich tops two sausage patties, bacon, two slices of cheese and an egg on a biscuit, McGriddle or McMuffin. As the first new permanent breakfast addition since 2003, the chain seems to be stoking its breakfast business after the proliferation of all-day breakfast.
3. Waffling between sweet and savory
Several c-store chains have ironed out versatile waffle menu items.
Rutter’s has partnered with Savannah, Ga.-based Renaissance Man Food Services to create a Southern-inspired waffle. The waffle is served across dayparts as a dessert, burger or basket meal. For breakfast, the waffle can be ordered as a breakfast sandwich or part of a breakfast basket, with eggs, meat and potatoes. “Waffles have always been a breakfast comfort food,” said Ryan Krebs, director of foodservice for the York, Pa.-based company. “And chicken and waffles have a rich legacy, some taking origin ownership in the South, others in Harlem and even the Pennsylvania Dutch, which is our backyard. It has now grown into an offering that can cross all dayparts. This, without a doubt, will be a champion on our menu.”
Salt Lake City-based Maverik Inc. launched a $3.99 Chic N’ Waffle sandwich this fall. For a limited-time, customers can get a $1 drink with the waffle meal.
RaceTrac Petroleum Inc., Atlanta, teamed up with Kellogg Co. to roll out a breakfast sandwich with maple-flavored sausage, egg and cheese between two Eggo waffles. “The partnership with the Eggo brand tied in perfectly with our quality breakfast offerings, providing a tasty and affordable breakfast choice for our on-the-go guests,” said Steven Turner, RaceTrac executive director of food programs and offers. RaceTrac also created an online campaign to educate consumers about its breakfast offerings, which includes two breakfast sandwiches for $3.
4. Kicking up the heat
Chick-fil-A is testing a fiery breakfast sandwich in Arizona, Philadelphia and Texas locations. The Spicy Chick-n-Strips Biscuit sandwich serves up two chicken strips seasoned with a spicy blend of peppers on a buttermilk biscuit. “We’re excited to spice up the menu and see what happens in these test markets,” said Matt Reed, who is on the Atlanta-based company's menu development team. The sandwich is available for about $3.09.
A new offering from Hardee’s, Franklin, Tenn., is also packing heat. The Sweet & Spicy Chicken Biscuit spreads Spicy & Sweet Pepper Jelly on buttermilk chicken between a scratch-made biscuit. Customers can grab the sandwich for a suggested price of $3.89 at select Knoxville, Tenn., locations
5. Bundling breakfast
Cumberland Farms is bringing the bundle promotion trend into the morning daypart. For $4, the Westborough, Mass.-based retailer is offering customers a breakfast sandwich, hash browns and coffee. Earlier in 2018, the c-store chain also added a Sausage Biscuit breakfast sandwich, which can be included in the meal deal.
Click here for the complete 2019 Dispensed Beverage Report.