Over Easy

Operators find new converts for breakfast, whenever, whatever and however

Restaurants have offered egg-focused brunch menus on weekends for years. And a number of eateries – notably diners – have made their name with their famous cheap but hearty all-day breakfasts. But the demand for breakfast all day, every day, is growing as customers clamour for new, interesting takes on traditional bacon and eggs, and they’re asking for breakfast in the afternoon, for dinner…and at all hours.


Mark Boag, vice president, sales and marketing for National Egg Solutions, says most restaurant operators already have what they need in their kitchen to offer all-day breakfast including equipment and ingredients. The benefit to operators is that eggs are a low-cost protein with a high-margin opportunity.

For example, an average breakfast omelette normally sells for $7 to $9 in the morning. That same item can be offered for $9 to $11 at lunch, when served with greens.

He adds that those all-important millennial guests are interested in quality over quantity with healthier and environmentally-friendly choices like omega-3, organic and cage-free egg products.

Upselling tip

For dinner consider “adding a little flash or splash” – for instance, adding fresh asparagus with hollandaise on the side or smoked salmon and crab – and charge $13 to $15.

Who wants breakfast now?

According to Winsight Media Senior Editor Patricia Cobe, many millennials are employed in the tech industry where their workday may start at 11 a.m. or end at 9 p.m. So they want breakfast later, or a healthy, filling snack after work – one big reason that all-day breakfast sandwiches are gaining popularity.

Savvy restaurant operators are taking note.

“We didn’t know how it was going to go to open a restaurant just for breakfast and lunch, says Kate Papadopoulos, owner of Korner Kitchen Breakfast & Lunch Restaurant in Kitchener, Ont. Their hours – Monday to Friday 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. – extend the traditional breakfast hours well into the afternoon to capture more of that all-day crowd. Papadopoulos says, after only two years since opening, business is booming with a wide range of customers – from moms and their kids to families, seniors and business clientele for meetings.

What are they clamouring for? Protein!

Protein! That’s the word from Technomic’s Breakfast Consumer Trend Report (2016).

*A majority of consumers say a breakfast’ item’s ability to satisfy them until their next meal (75%), how filling the item is (70%) and its ability to energize them (56%) are highly important. A majority (64%) also say that they are more willing to purchase a high-protein breakfast item; (44%) will even pay more for them.

Gourmet omelettes
Gourmet omelettes

And new flavours

According to McCormick’s 2017 flavour forecast: “Breakfast options with big, global flavours are being sought after by a generation of flavour adventurists not content with the same boring bowl.” Think warm sweet congee or a Middle Eastern-inspired hash topped with a spicy skhug sauce (Middle Eastern hot sauce made with chilies, cumin, cardamom, coriander, garlic, parsley, cilantro, olive oil and lemon juice).

The all-important millennials especially are looking for ethnic flavours in their breakfast. Shakshuka (a North African dish made with poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce) went up 6.3 percent in menu mentions last year, says Technomic.

Papadopoulos says their menu has lots of options to keep breakfast guests coming back for more. The bestseller is a peameal and fried egg sandwich made with cheese, lettuce and tomato. Spice is hot with customers and skillets are also popular, including the Mexican Skillet made with Tex-Mex beef, green pepper, onion, jalapeños, tomatoes, hash browns, black beans and corn topped with blended cheeses, along with salsa on the side. There are also a number of vegan, gluten free and vegetarian options for diners looking for “greener” breakfast options.

She adds that customers want fresh ingredients, not processed foods. For example, there’s a lot of ‘from scratch’ involved in her restaurant’s kitchen, like their hash browns made from fresh, steamed potatoes, shredded and finished on the grill.

Operator tip

“Your service has to be really good – it can’t just be average,” Papdopoulos advises.
With many all-day breakfast choices in the marketplace and competition from the big guys, “you’re going to have to give [customers] a really good reason to choose your place.”

Top tips to offer all-day breakfast

  1. Start small. Try a limited all-day breakfast menu to test its popularity with your guests. If you’re serving mainly a dinner crowd, all-day breakfast may not add enough to your bottom line to make it worthwhile.
  2. Go bold. A big trend now is globally inspired breakfasts, featuring bolder flavours and spices.
  3. Don’t forget vegetarians and vegans. Shake up your breakfast menu with different greens and beans.
  4. Try breakfast sandwiches. Breakfast sandwiches are on the rise, growing 10 per cent in menu incidence over a five-year period, according to Technomic’s Canadian Sandwich Consumer Trend Report (2016). It’s not just QSRs making the most of this opportunity.
  5. Think healthy! Supplement more traditional breakfast dishes with fruit, yogurt, muesli and granola options.