There’s something special about gathering on a weekend morning for a drawn out, relaxing meal with friends. From that first sip of a mimosa or Bloody Mary to the last bite of that eggs Benedict or Belgian waffle dish, the conversation shared is what’s front and center—not just rushing to the bill at the end of the meal. But for many diners, meeting up in the morning isn’t feasible, and if they don’t want lunch or dinner fare, restaurants lose out. So what’s the solution?
Offering breakfast foods all day long is the perfect way to attract diners who prefer to sleep in a little later but still want to indulge in a build-your-own omelet or French toast bar. Best of all, it doesn’t involve much extra work on the part of restaurant operators. But how can operators differentiate their menus from other breakfast and brunch hotspots?
Offer a varied menu
When planning all-day breakfast and brunch menus, it’s important to offer an array of both classic favorites as well as chef specialties that incorporate trending ingredients, preparations and flavors. Offering a variety means that people who want something classic, as well as those who want something new and those who may have dietary restrictions, can all find something they’re looking for. “We’ve got a balance of both. We sat down with our chefs and came up with this menu,” says Tom Winn, owner of Duck Dive in San Diego, Calif. “Right now, we’re doing a couple of tweaks to it. You’ve just got to keep it fresh, keep it up to date.”
At Duck Dive, classics such as the egg-white omelet as well as specialties like the chorizo potato hash (with housemade chorizo, poblanos, potatoes, roasted corn, queso fresco, fresh cilantro, poached eggs, cheddar cheese and a side of garlic toast or flour tortilla) are what keep the menu exciting. Offering delicious foods on both ends of the spectrum is key to keeping customers happy.
Adapt for the p.m. crowd
Morning breakfast menus often include items like mimosas or Bloody Marys—the classic brunch drinks. But for all-day breakfast, there’s additional opportunity in offering specialty cocktails. “Some [customers] want to just come in and dine, and they might want to have a cocktail or two,” says Winn of his restaurant’s specialty cocktails that pair perfectly with breakfast foods.
Options that incorporate on-trend cold-brew coffee can entice customers who perhaps don’t want something tomato- or juice-based. The Morning After cocktail at Duck Dive, for instance, features Fernet Branca Menta, Modern Times cold brew, Carolan’s Irish cream, crème de cocoa and a dash of chocolate bitters.
Operators can offer specialty non-alcohol drinks, as well—nitro cold brew coffee can be appealing for those who want a caffeine buzz, and mocktails featuring fresh-squeezed juices are perfect for health-conscious customers or teetotalers.
Offering these types of options—particularly alcohol drinks, which diners usually save for later in the day—is a great way to encourage bigger tabs on all-day breakfast menus.
Draw inspiration from afternoon and evening menus
All-day breakfast doesn’t have to be just breakfast foods. Some of the trendiest all-day breakfast foods are ones that draw inspiration from lunch and dinner menus. For instance, breakfast pizzas are growing on menus. Pizza is already a customer favorite, but topped with breakfast ingredients, it’s perfect for the breakfast menu and beyond. At Perkins Restaurant and Bakery, diners can order The Day Breaker, a pizza topped with crispy tater tots, scrambled eggs and maple sriracha bacon, topped with a poblano cheese sauce, sour cream and green onions, and finished with garlic butter and a five-cheese blend.
Breakfast sandwiches can work double duty, too, satisfying breakfast seekers as well as those who want something more substantial. For example, take Melt Bar & Grilled’s Chicken & Waffles sandwich, with crispy battered chicken on a Belgian waffle, topped with Sriracha butter and pepper Jack cheese and served with maple syrup for dipping.
Updating the menu with new items and ingredients from time to time can help boost interest as well as keep customers coming back for more. Signature items can rotate, as can seasonal offerings.
By offering classics as well as trendy dishes, incorporating a range of breakfast and brunch cocktails and continuously tweaking the menu to include items that are great any time of day, operators can build a strong menu that adds to their bottom lines.