Incredible Breakfast Trends

Topping off Consumer Satisfaction

Americans are fascinated by food. Everyone needs it and many of us are obsessed with it. We discuss it, take pictures of it and make celebrities out of our chefs. And it’s because of this love affair that we should have seen the inevitability of all-day breakfast coming years ago.

All the signs were there: years of dashboard dining, clockless days and being fed from drive-thru windows led Millennial children to expect to eat what they wanted whenever they wanted. And when those children grew up and overtook Boomers as the largest U.S. demographic, it was a given that restaurants would need to make changes to attract them. It’s one of those changes that will be the focus of this article – we’ll leave Instagram and rock star chefs for another time.

Offering breakfast – or something like it – all day, is one change that’s showing up at operations up and down the menu spectrum. Although all-day breakfast has been embraced by a growing number of chains, according to Datassential’s 2016 Keynote Report on breakfast only a quarter of operators offer breakfast beyond lunch. That’s where creative operators found other ways of spreading breakfast satisfaction throughout the day: they’re putting eggs on everything.

Topping Off Profits

Egg toppings generally come as an option for an upcharge or are included in a dish’s description. Late 2016 Technomic research shows fried eggs are the most common style used as an add-on option, having risen 6.8 percent in incidence over the past 12 months. A perfect example of eggs as an option is found in Chili’s new 2017 Winter menu, which includes three separate suggestions to “plus up” an order by adding a fried egg to any of the chain’s Craft Burgers, steaks or enchilada dishes for an extra dollar.

Dishes described as including an egg topping arguably began with burgers or as a dressing replacement on salads, but offering the craveability of eggs has graduated into a wide variety of items on daypart-blurring menus. Dishes like the following are found far beyond the breakfast menu including in appetizer, lunch, happy hour and dinner sections:

  • Avocado Boat: charred avocado, Brussels sprout dust, soft poached eggs, smoked salmon, balsamic, fresh herbs (Dolce Pane E Vino, Rancho Santa Fe, Cal.)
  • The SXSW: large bowl of jalapeño cheese grits topped with spicy pulled pork, fried egg, fresh tomatoes, sweet corn, pickled jalapeños and cilantro (LTO at Max’s Wine Dive, Austin, Tex., for past four years during the SXSW festival)
  • Wintergreen and Ricotta Pizza: grana, chili flakes and baked eggs (Venturo Osteria and Wine Bar, New York City)
  • Quinoa and Eggs: fall veggies, ginger and scallion topped with poached egg (2016 seasonal LTO at
    Sable Kitchen and Bar
    , Chicago)

An egg topper provides many advantages. It reshapes an old favorite, adds natural, unprocessed protein to vegetarian dishes, and even supercharges the protein quotient of a meat dish. It’s an economical add-on, yet adds silky mouthfeel for an indulgent texture. It’s already in nearly every restaurant’s inventory, so it optimizes ingredients. And if any more motivation is required, operators tell Datassential that egg dishes are both their best-selling breakfast items and the most profitable ones.1 Adding some of that value should increase any menu item’s allure for guests and operators alike.

Half of consumers surveyed (49%) in 2016 by Datassential2 said their reason for choosing breakfast foods during other dayparts was craving a specific food, like eggs. To capitalize on that, operators can easily create breakfast versions of traditional lunch or dinner items. Crowning salads, poutines or sandwiches with eggs increases their craveability and offers new menu options by adding one simple, natural ingredient. Topping foods like pizzas, meal bowls or nachos with eggs and bacon creates an entirely new menu category: in the morning they’re breakfast dishes in a P.M. format and later, they’re pizza, meal bowls or nachos with a fun breakfast twist. These types of items work well on menus of operations not open for breakfast.

So think of either an egg-topped breakfast pizza or a dinner pizza topped with eggs and pancetta. Both describe the same dish and both are delicious, trending and profitable.

1. Datassential’s MenuTrends Keynote Series: Breakfast (November 2016)
2. MenuMonitor; Technomic Inc. Base: Menu offerings across 1,533 Leading and Regional Commercial Restaurants and 251 Non-Commercial operators; including Convenience Stores, Food Trucks, Business and Industry, College and Universities, Hospital, Lodging, Recreation and Retailers

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