Incredible Breakfast Trends

Daypart-Blurring Proteins

Virtually every operation serving breakfast sandwiches has an egg, cheese and bacon (or sausage) sandwich on its menu. The items are distinguished by being served on a biscuit, croissant and/or bagel. In other words, they’re very similar.

So to be clear, there are six basic sandwiches sold at thousands upon thousands of locations in the U.S. every day. Far from creating consumer fatigue, more and more of these nearly interchangeable products keep flying out of drive-thru windows, year after year. The secret of their success? Being the perfect comfort food. And who gets tired of comfort?

One way to capitalize on this winning equation while displaying menu individuality is to follow the pattern while filling in the blanks with unexpected ingredients. Consider these very different sandwiches and note their adherence to the meat/egg/cheese equation:

  • The Wake Up Call (C&M Café, Los Angeles) makes a sandwich with pastrami, egg, Swiss cheese and chili aioli.
  • Open-Faced Breakfast Burger (Grange Hall Burger Bar, Chicago) layers both Canadian and applewood bacon, sharp cheddar and maple syrup, topped with a sunny-side-up egg on cinnamon-raisin French toast.
  • The Fried Egg Sandwich (Max’s Wine Dive, Texas-based) places three pan-fried eggs, applewood-smoked bacon, Gruyère, Bibb lettuce, tomatoes and black truffle aioli on artisan sourdough.

Another way to entice consumer taste buds is to make savvy use of on-trend ethnic flavors and sauces like chipotle and sofrito to brighten and intensify dishes. Bruegger’s Bagels makes good use of Sriracha in its simple but popular Sriracha Egg Sandwich, adding sausage, cheddar and fresh red peppers to the egg and Sriracha.

Other issues add complexity and a certain amount of urgency to the need for menu creativity. As the only daypart currently growing, breakfast is a hotly contested battleground. Operators already in the daypart do not want to lose ground, and those entering it intend to grab share from others. The stakes are high.

Another factor to consider is Millennials’ habit of eating whatever/whenever, which continues to erode daypart boundaries. This has led to more operators offering daypart-blurring items throughout the day. Consider the migration of roasted turkey and chicken to the morning menu and the proliferation of egg-topped burgers, salads and vegetable dishes.

At the same time those forces have been at work, protein has become a topic of great interest to consumers and researchers alike. Well-respected, peer-reviewed studies have been published showing that beginning a day with high-quality protein like eggs and meats offers many benefits over high-carb breakfasts. Mintel reports that consumers have been showing more interest in having high-protein items like eggs, meats and Greek yogurt during their breakfast meals.

The combination of all these influences has led to yet another response to the need for competitive advantage. Many eateries have expanded their repertoire from bacon, sausage and ham, to non-traditional breakfast proteins like shellfish, poultry and all types of beef and pork products. Per Datassential, use of pulled pork on the breakfast menu is up 300 percent, prosciutto has increased by 159 percent and lobster, 72 percent. These proteins, among other formerly lunch/dinner ones, are finding a home on more morning menus and helping to differentiate restaurants. Some interesting examples of new breakfast protein dishes:

  • BBQ Pulled Pork Benedict ‒ two poached eggs over pulled pork and pickled onions on English muffin topped with hollandaise and scallions (Inspiration Kitchens, Chicago)
  • Bella! Bella! Benny ‒ thin slices of prosciutto, Taleggio cheese, and poached eggs on toasted ciabatta, topped with cream cheese hollandaise, balsamic glaze and arugula (Snooze, Denver)
  • Lobster Cake Benedict ‒ with corn salsa and tarragon hollandaise (Four Seasons, Boston)
  • Roasted Duck Hash ‒ with roasted potatoes, shallots, spinach, & sunny-side up eggs (Huckleberry, Los Angeles)
  • Brisket Breakfast ‒ 14-hour slow-roasted Angus beef, shredded in spicy tomato broth, with 2 poached eggs and toasted baguette (Ria’s Bluebird, Atlanta)
  • Slim’s Spicy Caribbean Omelette ‒ made with grilled, jerk-spiced shrimp, fresh avocado, green onion, sweet onion and cilantro, topped with mango salsa (m.henry, Chicago)
  • Carpaccio Benedict ‒ local beef tenderloin topped with eggs, hollandaise, capers, horseradish, red onion and olive oil on toast (Kismet, Montpelier, Vermont)

The blending of favorite breakfast and traditional lunch/dinner foods creates new and exciting meals, and is well-suited to today’s lifestyles. No one will argue with the concept of having what they want to eat whenever they want to eat it.

The same can be said for offering more hours each day for traditional breakfast. Giving customers what they want is seldom a bad business decision.


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