Dish of the Season – Breakfast

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Breakfast is Booming

Everyone has always been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and now quick serves are discovering that breakfast is the fastest growing part of their menus. Lunch is still bigger overall but breakfast has the most potential for expansion. If your restaurant comes into people’s minds while they are sleepy and waking up and then becomes a destination for their breakfast it’s far more likely that it will spring to mind at other meal times in the day.

Targeting office workers on their way to work, school kids going to school, and construction workers facing a day of hard physical labour, can increase the regular traffic of people coming into the business. Research by HIM Research shows that 24% of UK adults buy breakfast on the go at least once a week. Products that are quick to prepare and serve can cater to this trend.

Breakfast time?

Traditionally, breakfast starts at 7am and runs until 11am for the late risers. We’re seeing a number of places round the country opening earlier in order to cater for this market. But opening earlier means investing in staff. Is this the right thing for your business? You should do a careful review of your customer base before deciding.

If you don’t think it works for you to open early, you could still consider some items – like the Breakfast Roll, BLT etc – as ‘all day breakfast items’. There’s a reason why these are increasingly popular.

Meal deals that are quick to serve always appeal to people. A bacon roll or pastry and coffee are perfect for a ‘grab and go ‘element to your menu.


Breakfast has always been a big player for convenience stores and petrol station forecourts with the infamous ‘breakfast roll’ becoming a national institution – even being immortalised by Pat Short in his hit single ‘Jumbo Breakfast Roll’.

A version of this is something that all fast food restaurants should look at. After all, sausage rolls have been part of the takeaway for years. It’s not that big a leap to add bacon, eggs and some lettuce – and hey presto there’s your breakfast roll. And there are any number of variants on this, from the ham & cheese toastie to the BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato). For ideas, take a look – as ever – at the multinationals. McDonald’s and Burger King both have breakfast menus – check out Burger King’s ‘Sausage Croissan’wich’.

And, of course, don’t neglect local tradition. All variants of the full Irish – including the Mini-Irish, the Vegetarian-Irish (beans, eggs, tomatoes) could work on your menu. It helps if you have a sit-down area for this, but do look at packaging options – if airlines can offer the Full Irish in a box, with plastic cutlery, so can you.

And do get adventurous. Breakfast doesn’t just mean variants on pork.

Continental/American – Pastries, waffles, pancakes with coffee.

Croissants, muffins, pancakes, waffles and all the topping can all be big sellers. You can use the same batter for waffles as pancakes though you will have to invest in a waffle machine. But if no-one else is doing that in your region, it could be something that differentiates you from competitors (and waffles can go all day; take a look at Brussels to see how it works in that city). Toppings for these include: chocolate sauce, cream, mixed berries.

Coffee is a big draw. Customers will come in just for coffee but might be tempted by a pastry or cereal bar while they are in there – the high mark up on coffee doesn’t hurt either! Standards in coffee are much higher than they used to be. Invest in as good a machine as you can afford and get good quality beans.

Healthy options

A healthy breakfast is: porridge, cereal, yoghurt, eggs/vegetables on toast. These aren’t hard to cook but, again, if you don’t have a dining area, you will probaby need to do a ‘breakfast roll’ version of Avocado Toast, rather than the open-faced sandwich so beloved of hipsters. Warm porridge is also tricky without a sit-down area but porridge pots – yes, cold porridge – work for Sprout.

Porridge pots are just variants of cereal pots which is a trend to keep an eye on. A survey by Neilson reports that cereal pots have increased by 37% in the past three years and are particularly popular with younger more affluent consumers. A cereal pot isn’t hard to make up and can be accompanied by a yoghurt pot, also very transportable. Greek-style yogurt is thick, creamy and has a high protein content which will please the many protein obsessives out there.Having hot water and fresh milk available so your customers can assemble their own cereal pots is a good way to attract custom. Cereal bars are popular and easy to tie into a breakfast meal deal. All high protein products are very much on trend with protein bars selling everywhere there’s a till.

There’s even a cereal only restaurant in uber-trendy Shoreditch in East London. It’s called Cereal Killer and was set up by two Northern Irish identical twins. They stock every cereal under the sun with a particular focus on sugary colourful American ones like Lucky Charms and Captain Crunch (it’s not all health!)


At weekends there’s a natural decrease in early risers looking for quick food on the go and this is where your brunch menu can appear. People will have more time and will be more likely to indulge themselves in bigger meals. Keeping the breakfast options available on the menu for a longer part of the day will attract late, hungover risers. The word ‘Brunch’ has a Pavlov’s Dog effect – it reminds people that it’s the weekend and they should kick back and enjoy. Brunching-up your usual menu offerings isn’t difficult – the trick is to offer a central more-ish item, like a breakfast roll, BLT or burger, together with a little side-salad to make them feel fresh & virtuous!

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