Breakfast around the clock
More than half of consumers enjoy breakfast at nontraditional times, representing a major opportunity for menu innovation, Ms. Kruse said.
“Breakfast foods are absolutely another take on comfort,” Ms. Kruse said. “The appeals are convenience, indulgence, health, value, fun. And, importantly, you don’t need to offer the breakfast day part to have fun with breakfast foods.”
A pizza restaurant may offer familiar breakfast ingredients as toppings, she said.
McDonald’s national launch of all-day breakfast earlier this year has “gone gangbusters,” she said, prompting other restaurant chains to add creative breakfast items to the menu. Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, for example, recently introduced a breakfast sandwich on an Auntie Anne’s pretzel bun, and White Castle debuted a waffle breakfast slider.
Mid-scale restaurant chains also are dishing up enticing twists on the morning meal. Shari’s, a regional family dining chain, offers breakfast poutine, featuring fries topped with cheese, bacon and an egg.
“IHOP, Denny’s, Cracker Barrel and Shari’s are absolutely doing wonderful work, and they’ve got the sales numbers to prove it,” Ms. Kruse said. “Now, they’re not benefiting from the convenience breakfast trend, but the notion of creative, satisfying breakfasts around the clock 24/7 is right in their wheelhouse.”
Not only does breakfast have strong demographic appeal; it also has nice margin potential, she added.
What’s next? Ms. Kruse predicts a rise in ready-to-eat cereal making some unexpected appearances on restaurant menus.
“In retail grocery, the ready-to-eat cereal market has been in steep decline, yet on the food service side, chefs are giving it a second lease on life,” she said, citing such examples as a dessert featuring Cap’n Crunch and a slider dog topped with Froot Loops.