The pandemic has elevated consumer interest in breakfast – and not just at what is typically thought of as breakfast time. According to a recent survey of more than 2,000 adults by the Harris Poll and General Mills Foodservice, 24 percent of Americans say they have eaten more breakfast foods during the pandemic and 79 percent have eaten breakfast foods outside the hours of the traditional daypart, Winsight reports. Consider testing the boundaries of breakfast by offering traditional breakfast items – or creative twists on them – on your lunch, dinner, snack and even dessert menus.
Even as the pandemic looks to be winding down, consumers will likely hold on to some habits and patterns they adopted in the past year – working from home more often, for example, or flexing their meal schedule. As a result, restaurant operators may see a need to blend their day parts by extending their breakfast menu beyond the morning hours or developing new dishes that can work at various times of day. Blending day parts can help kitchens make the most of their inventory by spreading it out farther – and simply give guests more reasons to order throughout the day.
These times call for creativity across a restaurant’s operations. When it comes to your ingredients, do you have an item that is ripe for reinvention? Consider this one: soft pretzels. Not simply stars of any snack or appetizer menu, they can enhance your entrées as a recipe ingredient. Try a skillet strata combining soft, doughy pretzel pieces with egg, cheese, onion, bacon and spinach for serious comfort food.
Breakfast foods mean comfort – and who doesn’t want more of that right now? They’re also versatile. Many breakfast dishes can be tweaked into satisfying weeknight meals by adding some heat or global flavor, switching up the proteins or testing new presentations.
Want to add some excitement to your brunch menu? Eggs – in all of their forms – provide a solid foundation for a wide range of spicy combinations, from Shakshuka to huevos rancheros. Even classics like Eggs Benedict can benefit from some experimentation. Try a Chilaquiles Eggs Benedict topped with a green chili Hollandaise sauce. It’s crowd-pleasing comfort food.
What are the holidays without comfort food? If you’re looking for something that brings savory and slightly sweet tastes to your breakfast menu, consider the sausage kolache (or klobasnek, according to its Czech roots). A mainstay in parts of Texas, the sausage kolache is a pillowy, mildly sweet dough filled with sausage and cheese. In the Czech Republic, kolaches can be filled with various combinations of fruit, cheese and other ingredients.
Plant-based proteins, to this point, have largely been branded as a nice-to-have option for flexitarians. But a looming pork shortage (or what some may consider a bacon emergency) could make plant-based proteins a more urgent need. An NPR report estimates that by the end of this year, China’s pig population could be cut in half, which will result in high pork prices in the U.S. The Spoon predicts that the conditions will be good news for the growing number of producers of plant-based pork products – and bacon, in particular. Restaurant operators should also have sufficient bacon alternatives to offer on their menus.
Does your breakfast menu need a new creative twist? Try to boost your breakfast options with on-trend savory flavors. Restaurant Business reports that combinations such as bean-topped grain bowls are on the rise this year, along with such global dishes as shakshuka and chilaquiles. On the side, consider offering new varieties of sausage with seasonings ranging from Cajun to jalapeño.
As vegetarian and vegan food continue to rise on lunch and dinner menus, it makes sense that breakfast would follow. (And operators would be wise to tap the breakfast segment if they haven’t already: Data from the National Restaurant Association indicates that breakfast accounts for 21 percent of all restaurant traffic — and guests are welcoming breakfast foods throughout the day.) So how can operators compete on breakfast? Skift Table reports that Just, a vegan food company that makes an egg protein substitute called Just Egg, is positioning itself as the leader in the category and has new partnerships with casual dining brands that will soon be offering the product on menus. Aside from eggs, breakfast bowls and protein bars — packed with almond or oat milk, chia seeds, quinoa and nut butters —provide a lot of opportunity for building creative, protein-rich combinations too.