Incredible Breakfast Trends

Rediscovering Brunchtime

When did you last add a daypart to your operation? Consumers have grown more flexible in their dining habits and no longer view dayparts as sacred. This is evident in the significant increases in all-day breakfast providers, late-night menus and snacking. Trend-watching operators took note and likely already have adjusted some portion of their days to take advantage of changing consumer habits. But for those who’ve hesitated, brunch deserves a look.

The number of brunch dishes grew 25 percent in menu mentions between Q2 2015 and Q2 20171, an impressive surge. And by late 2016, 39 percent of American operators offered some type of brunch program.2 That could mean grand buffet tables, floral arrangements and carving stations, or simply a special menu with creative items. Either way, a good brunch lineup provides enticing options for both reserved traditionalists and the adventurous.

In days gone by, brunch was found mainly at hotels or long-established restaurants that were fixtures in their communities. But today we find a wide range of chains adding brunch to increase traffic and add interest. Maggiano’s Little Italy, a Brinker International chain, is not open for breakfast, but still launched weekend brunch in early 2017 with 12 entrees developed to reflect the essence of its brand. The Meatball Benedict places two of the chain’s signature meatballs atop English muffin halves and covers them with poached eggs, oven-dried Roma tomatoes and hollandaise. Now that’s the smart way to support a brand while adding little to no ingredients to inventory.

Morning Meals

Maggiano’s is hardly alone in its daypart addition. Chains as diverse as McCormick & Schmick’s, Jack in the Box, Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que, Romano’s Macaroni Grill and Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar all offer brunch every Saturday and Sunday. Granite City is one that offers only Sunday brunches, while Sullivan’s Steakhouse specializes in holiday ones.

Why offer both breakfast and brunch? Because they’re two different types of dining. Breakfast is sustenance, brunch is a mindset. Brunch means relaxing, lingering and sipping a cocktail. It’s also an increasingly popular destination for consumers who see brunch as an elevated experience, a feeling of anticipation for something out of the ordinary – even a treat.

To reap more than rising headcounts from brunch, use it to:

  • Keep choices fresh with seasonal produce.
  • Try out unexpected twists on old breakfast favorites.
  • Test potential new dishes, providing management an opportunity to interact with guests while gauging reactions.
  • Hybridize a popular lunch/dinner dish like grilled cheese, flatbreads or BLTs by adding eggs.

Finally, brunch is no longer just for weekends. Some operations have begun trying out midweek brunches to fill tables during typically slow times. Others have gone all-in, creating separate all-day brunch restaurants. Hutch American Café and City Mouse are recent additions to Chicago’s culinary scene that have taken the second route, both open seven days a week, serving only all-day brunch.

  • Hutch launched in 2016 with a creative menu including Totchos, a twist on both poutine and nachos. Tater tots are topped with pico de gallo, truffled cheese fondue and fried egg. For more substantial entrées, Hutch serves intriguing chilaquiles, skillets, sandwiches, wraps, toasts and Benedicts.
  • City Mouse opened this year offering an extensive beverage menu to accompany its brunch foods. Menu items include fun dishes like the Gas Station Sandwich made with egg, hash browns, cheese, grape jelly, sausage and Michigan-grown fruit.

Consider: a 25 percent increase in menued items embraced by 39 percent of all operators – that’s an opportunity impatiently waiting for you. Eggs provide not just the comfort consumers want, but the versatility to create incredible dishes for them. With them, your restaurant can become a destination, not just building sales, but also loyalty. And not just for individuals, but for groups of family and friends, which is how we eat our brunch.

1. Mintel, Menu Insights Q2 2015-Q2 2017

2. Datassential, The Keynote Report: Breakfast, November 2016


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