HORTON, Mich. -- Little Caesars’ famous tagline may be “Pizza! Pizza!” but at least one convenience-store location is rolling out breakfast. Situated inside a BP gas station, a Little Caesars restaurant in Horton, Mich., has debuted a line of hot grab-and-go breakfast sandwiches.
Joining nine other Little Caesars units in multiple states that are piloting the platform, the c-store location is experimenting with the morning day-part, anchored by a new line of Pizzini sandwiches. Available between 6:30 and 10:30 a.m., the three Pizzini varieties include egg and cheese, bacon, egg and cheese and sausage, egg and cheese. Customers are offered the choice of one sandwich for $2.99 or two for $5.
A point of differentiation is a new bread, developed specifically for the new sandwiches. "It's a specific crust that we use," Jason Rennie, a restaurants and operations director with Brighton, Mich.-based Corrigan Oil, told MLive.com. "We don't offer that type of breading in any of our pizzas. It's very comparable to any other breakfast sandwich that you're going to get out there. And then our price point is based off value."
Considering the heavy morning traffic that flows in and out of the BP express station, Little Caesars decided to capitalize on the potential of breakfast to capture customer visits from nearby fast-food competitors such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell. The challenge, however, according to store manager Gary Summers, is convincing Little Caesars’ customers to give the Pizzini a try.
Their everyday customer “doesn’t correlate breakfast with Little Caesars,” Summers told the news website. But Summers also said that guests who do purchase the sandwiches are returning for more: “People that do try it, they come back."
While Little Caesars is hoping to grab share of stomach from top QSR breakfast players with its new breakfast item, they also face a growing challenge from convenience stores that are getting in on the action. The latest c-store operator survey from Technomic shows that 52% of convenience operators are optimistic about breakfast, and foresee expansion of their breakfast menus through 2017.
Convenience stores are increasingly recognizing the importance of building their presence in the hotly competitive breakfast category, and are using sandwiches as the growth vehicle. According to Technomic’s most recent menu data on the c-store segment, breakfast entrées are the fastest growing offering in the morning, and incidences of bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches on c-store menus are up by 75%—while ham, egg and cheese sandwiches have increased by 67%—since 2013.
In addition to these more traditional sandwich varieties, the growth opportunity for different types of breakfast handhelds is also apparent. Technomic data reveals that other sandwich-style breakfast items are expanding their visibility on c-store menus; breakfast burritos, hearty and substantial breakfast hoagies, biscuit sandwiches and bagel melts are up by 43% since 2013.