One key to a successful breakfast operation is meeting diner expectations. You need to give them what they want. And that’s why we’re going to focus on the two main menu categories every breakfast operation MUST have right now – sandwiches and bowls. Within these categories, we’ll also share a few ideas on creating signature items for your operation that will give diners reasons to return regularly.
We’ll be adding to this lineup often, so check back frequently to get the latest insights and ideas.
BREAKFAST SANDWICHES 101
The answer is simple. Breakfast sandwiches are the most popular item when eating breakfast away from home. Sandwiches dominate breakfast – because they’re easy to eat on the go or take along anywhere. From basic and affordable to indulgent and premium, breakfast sandwiches are comfort food. Diners pair them with a beverage, and it’s a meal for any time of day. Let’s not forget, sandwiches offer you advantages, as well, in terms of food cost, speed, ease of cooking and assembly.
A.M. SANDWICH STATS
- #1 Breakfast Menu Item: Breakfast Sandwiches (Source: NPD/CREST® OND’19)
- According to top operators, breakfast handhelds are the best-selling items, followed by egg entrées (Source: Datassential Breakfast Keynote Report, October 2019)
- Breakfast sandwiches are not just critical to places with a drive-thru, as most of the growth in breakfast sandwiches is coming from full-service. (Source: Datassential Breakfast Keynote Report, October 2019)
TOP 3 MOST POPULAR BREAKFAST SANDWICHES:
1. Bacon, egg and cheese
2. Sausage, egg and cheese
3. Ham, egg and cheese
Nearly every restaurant offering breakfast sandwiches has a variation of one or all of these. Of course, you can offer just a classic egg and cheese sandwich, as well. Having the basics is important, because in the consumer’s mind, according to Datassential, a ‘good breakfast sandwich’ hinges on having eggs, bacon and cheese.
BEST EGG PREPARATIONS FOR BREAKFAST SANDWICHES
- Fried (over-medium or over-hard)
- Omelets are a great way to get inclusions and cheese into one preparation
- Bake up a sheet pan of eggs or frittata cut into squares and put on a sandwich
- Fold an omelet 4 x 4, diner style
EGG FORMATS AVAILABLE FOR USE IN BREAKFAST SANDWICHES
- Shell eggs
- Liquid eggs (whole egg, and egg white only to meet special dietary requests)
- Value-added egg patties (with veggie + meat inclusions)
SIGNATURE BREAKFAST SANDWICHES
Differentiate your restaurant with something no one else has. By putting a twist on a common sandwich element, you give customers a safe way to experiment, while still enjoying something familiar.
Get ideas from these creative twists now trending on menus:
(Datassential Breakfast Keynote)
- Nontraditional condiments or sauces (maple syrup, hollandaise, salsa verde)
- Vegetable toppings/components (arugula, roasted tomato, caramelized onion)
- Nontraditional carriers (donuts, eggs, lettuce)
- Global cheeses (cotija, Parmesan, Gouda)
- Premium meats (brisket, pork belly, prosciutto)
Use these recipes as inspiration or the basis for your own signature breakfast sandwich:
BETTER IN A BOWL
Serve an item in a bowl, and it takes on a new persona. Food in a bowl is comforting, fun, versatile, easy to eat, easy to serve, and to some – even better tasting. Because of this, multi-layered, multi-textured meals-in-a-bowl are trending with both diners and operators. BONUS: Bowls are well-suited for both dine-in and off-premise.
A basic breakfast menu can be refreshed with a ‘bowled’ modern approach. Bowls lend themselves to creativity and a variety of ingredients.
- Make beautiful signature bowls with local and or seasonal ingredients
- Vary bases – use vegetables, grains, beans, greens, etc.
- Vary egg preparation styles – scrambled, poached, fried, soft boiled
- Give bowls a “healthy” halo – use lots of veggies, limit carbs
- Mix up proteins – from sausage to seafood and everywhere in between
- Go global – elevate with ingredients and flavors from around the world
- Simple to assemble; easily customizable
ANCHOR WITH EGGS
Eggs not only offer nearly universal appeal, they’re a great base ingredient for bowls, as well as being an exceptional topper.
On the bottom – scrambled eggs are a perfect base for a breakfast bowl. With their neutral flavor, they blend well with other ingredients. And a base layer of eggs can remain plain or serve as a blank canvas for flavorings from sauces and seasonings to veggies and cheeses.
Additional Benefits –
– High in protein, nutritious.
– Portable and hold well.
– Customizable with choices of meat, plant-based protein, veggies, shredded cheese, sauces, herbs, spices, etc.
- Over the top – When eggs top a bowl, they add to its visual appeal and flavor profile. In this instance, bases can be any variety of ingredients – grains, greens, lentils, stews, veggies – the possibilities are vast.
Additional Benefits –
– When broken, a beautifully placed fried or poached egg on top of a bowl becomes a rich, flavorful sauce.
– Grains, greens, and veggies used as a base lend themselves to more options incorporating global flavors.
– Artfully made bowls can be offered as brunch menu items.
TIP: OFFER PREMIUM INGREDIENTS
(Like avocado/guacamole, smoked salmon, roasted mushrooms) for an upcharge. Provides customization options while increasing check totals.
BOWL MUST HAVES
Create bowls with a variety of flavors and textures to cater to all types of customers.
- Use scrambled eggs as the base. Offer any breakfast burritos on your menu with a bowled option. (Low-carb diners will appreciate this.)
- Start with grains as the base – they’re a nutritious, neutral flavor profile upon which to build.
- Cater to vegetarians with a bowl with greens as a base.
- Consider adding a heartier bowl, using a soup or stew as the base.
- Incorporate a variety of trending ingredients like avocado, pickled red onion, spicy sauces, mole, etc.
- Offer global varieties, such as Mediterranean, Persian, or Mexican. In fact, Shakshuka is one of the fastest-growing breakfast menu items. It’s easy to prepare and a great global option.
- Obviously, anything “instagrammable’ – a beautiful bowl shot from the top is a great addition to your menu. Consider a deconstructed bowl like this bibimbap.
BOWLED & BEAUTIFUL SIGNATURE ITEMS
Three things are essential in creating craveable bowls: flavor, texture, and color. Global bowl variations are a great way to cover all three and set your restaurant apart with a unique signature item.
Get creative! Use these recipes as inspiration or adapt them for your own signature breakfast bowl: