According to Technomic, Inc., those breakfast sales
account for 12% of all foodservice business. And
consumer data shows that the market is not yet saturated. There
are still plenty of opportunities in this category.
“Breakfast is a third of my business, and increasing,” says
Lee Richardson, executive chef of Ashley’s at the Capital
Hotel in Little Rock, Ark.
Englewood, Colo., is another breakfast town. At Breakfast on
Broadway Café, Val Erpelding, chef/owner, seats 80 inside
and another 30 on the patio. He does 160 breakfast covers on
weekdays, and 350-400 each day Friday through Sunday.
And at Mimi’s Cafe, a 145-unit California-based wholly
owned subsidiary of Bob Evans Farms, Inc., “Breakfast
business is slightly up in a really tough economy,” says
Adam Baird, corporate executive chef.
If you’re not getting enough of these morning dollars, take a
moment to consider how breakfast differs from other meals of
the day. According to Technomic’s “Breakfast Consumer Trend
Report,” consumers generally place greater importance on
convenience and speed of service than on price for breakfast.
“Unless they’re part of a meeting, Monday through Friday
people are typically in and out,” Baird says.
PHOTO CREDIT: Opposite, The Capital Hotel; right, kraftfoodservice.com
Even on weekends or when they aren’t in a hurry to be
somewhere else, “customers want their breakfast yesterday,”
Richardson says. “They’re already hungry when they come
in. Breakfast is a lot about needing to eat.”
La Brea Bakery, Van Nuys, Calif., a producer of artisan breads for
restaurants and food stores, operates bakery cafes in Los Angeles
and Anaheim. Jon Davis, vice president of concept development,
says, “Breakfast is a huge push in hotels. Some of the operators
are adopting the same practices of QSR units and using already
prepared foods that can be rewarmed quickly. At our Disney cafe,
it’s all about speed. People want to get food and get to the park.”
MISE EN PLACE IS EVERYTHING
Getting good breakfast food out of the kitchen and onto
the table quickly takes organization. At Ashley’s, the staff
cultures yogurt, smokes bacon and makes its own sausage
and preserves. The menu’s oatmeal is made with steel-cut
oats, and the grits, which many customers order as a hot
cereal, are stone-ground. The breakfast crew starts at 4 a.m.,
making grits and oatmeal and proofing the housemade
croissants, which are ready to come out of the oven when
the dining room opens at 6: 30 a.m.
Mimi’s operational procedures assure that when the pancakes,
waffles, French toast or eggs are started, preparation of the
rest of the order follows in sequence so that everything arrives
on the plate at the same time. “People don’t complain that our
breakfasts take too long,” Baird notes.
Although not every customer at Breakfast on Broadway is in
a hurry, most expect to have their food within 10 minutes of
sitting down. Because “from scratch” is a mantra for Erpelding
and his crew, to meet that goal, especially during peak hours
between 8: 30 and 11 a.m., they have to be prepared. Erpelding
and one server are on hand when the restaurant opens at 6 a.m.,
two more cooks and a second server arrive at 7: 30 a.m., and a
third server comes in at 8 a.m.. On weekends, there are seven or
eight servers and a runner to keep the line moving.
“My guys are fast. One of them has been doing eggs all his
working life, and he’s 50,” Erpelding says. They are also
prepared. “Mise en place is everything. We cook our eggs
and pancakes to order, but we’re always heavily prepped.”
They make the signature corned beef hash and vegetarian
hash every two to three days. They use the griddle in place
of a saute pan for vegetables. Being prepared and having
OPPOSITE: Lee Richardson prepares the smoked-bacon/cheddar cheese grits that are
part of the Irish Breakfast—poached eggs over grits served with a biscuit, hand-crafted
preserves and local sorghum butter.