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If your restaurant or café doesn't open its doors until 11am, or even later for a dinner-only service, you could be missing out on a sizeable opportunity: breakfast. The ‘most important meal of the day’ is often conspicuously absent from many menus as eatery owners tend to focus their efforts on the midday and evening meals, but breakfast and brunch could well be a profitable addition to your current offering that’s worth setting your alarm early for.

To find out just how appealing a breakfast menu could be to your customers, Lockhart Catering surveyed over 100 people about their attitudes to the morning meal, and yielded some surprising findings. More than a quarter (26%) of respondents said that they go out to eat breakfast or brunch once a week or more, meaning that if you introduced a breakfast menu you could well expect customers to be queuing out of the door.

And you wouldn't even need to offer breakfast dishes every day. Over a third of people (36%) claimed that going out for breakfast or brunch was a weekend treat, so if you weren't sure about opening your restaurant early throughout the week, a Saturday and Sunday breakfast menu is a great way to test the waters.

What’s more, if your restaurant or café happens to be in a popular tourist spot, a tempting breakfast menu could also be a magnet for the crowds. Out of those surveyed, 38% told us that they go for breakfast after staying away from home the night before, and 32% said that they make it part of a day trip out.

Fry-ups are still a favourite

But what sort of breakfast foods are these customers hankering for? A whopping 78% of people said that they crave an English breakfast when they eat out in the morning, so offer fry-ups and you’ll please the crowds.

However American-style breakfasts and brunches such as pancakes, waffles and eggs Benedict, and typically Continental breakfasts like pastries, meats and cheeses and French toast were also wildly popular, with each mentioned by over a quarter (27%) of respondents as being a favourite morning cuisine. This is all washed down by coffee by 60% of people and tea by a third (34%), whereas a fifth (22%) of those surveyed like to sip on a healthy morning smoothie or juice.

That doesn’t mean that you should pick just one type of breakfast food and stick to it, though. More than half (54%) of those responded said that having a wide range of breakfast and brunch options was the main reason for them choosing a particular place to eat, second only to there being low prices (67%) that make going out for breakfast an affordable treat. When asked how much they’d spend on breakfast, almost half (49%) of people said they’d part with £5-£8 to get their day started.

Serving breakfasts until the early afternoon or even all day was also an important factor for 40% of people, so even if you only chose to serve breakfasts on a weekend, it would be a good idea to keep them coming all day to please the late risers – and especially those nursing hangovers!

How to branch out into breakfast and brunch

If our survey findings have persuaded you that a morning menu could be beneficial to your restaurant, there are several steps you can take to ensure your new venture is a success.

Offer something different

Most respondents to our breakfast survey told us that they prefer an English breakfast, but how would you make yours more tempting than that served by the café next door? Whether you use only organic or locally sourced ingredients, make your sausages in-house, use a secret recipe for your hollandaise sauce or slow-cook your own baked beans overnight, find ways to elevate your breakfast offerings and use every opportunity to tell your customers on your menu, through your advertising and on social media.

Take inspiration from your main menu

You should think of your breakfast menu as an extension of your main restaurant menu – don’t unintentionally confuse your customers by offering American-style breakfasts if your restaurant is Indian! Be experimental and offer limited ‘specials’ in addition to your core breakfast menu to introduce your guests to new dishes and tastes.

Start small and expand as you go

If you aren’t sure whether a breakfast menu would be a success at your establishment, you can always run a trial by serving a limited menu just one day a week, such as on Sundays, or even just once a month. This will give you plenty of time to prepare a tempting menu and market your new offerings, and you’ll also get a feel for customer demand and tastes. Then you can begin to build on the menu or increase the service frequency, with maximum chance of success.

Make sure your kitchen is set up for success

A new menu might mean that you need to take stock of what’s in your kitchen, and ensure that it’s suitable for the breakfast dishes you want to offer. You may need to order more crockery, such as bowls and mugs, update your coffee machine, or invest in a commercial deep-fat fryer to keep up with the demand.

If you’re thinking of offering breakfast dishes, or you’ve already successfully introduced a morning menu, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Send us a tweet at @BunzlLockhart or leave us a comment below!


Lockhart Catering on 13 February 2015 9:51 AM

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