Should Your Restaurant Offer Breakfast?
Pros and Cons of the Breakfast Shift
There’s no doubt that breakfast has always been popular with diners, not every restaurant concept is suited for early risers. National chain restaurants like IHOP and Denny’s built whole brands around eggs, bacon and pancakes, making breakfast an anytime meal. If you are looking for a way to increase revenue at your restaurant and reach more customers, you may think adding breakfast hours will do the trick.
After all, you would only be tacking on three or four hours to your existing work day. But first, consider the following:
Will breakfast complement or complicate your existing restaurant brand?
If you’ve built a successful restaurant on lunch and dinner, will breakfast go with your image? Consider, where do you most like to eat breakfast out? Perhaps a greasy spoon diner, or a fast food drive through, or a small coffee shop and bakery? Those three concepts are where most people like to dine when going out for breakfast. Of course, there are restaurants can do all three meals, but that is not the case for every restaurant.
Will you lose money on check averages during breakfast?
Breakfast offers low food cost items, like eggs and hash browns, which make it the cheapest meal of the day to buy. Do you want to risk losing customers at dinner (when they would spend three or four times more money) to have them come in for breakfast?
Do you have the right location for a breakfast crowd?
People will drive out of their way for a nice dinner, but for breakfast? It’s all about convenience. That’s why quick service restaurants, like Starbucks or fast food chains with drive up windows do so well at breakfast time. If your restaurant is located in an area that is busy in the morning, then it might be worth trying.
But if business doesn’t typically pick up in your neighborhood until afternoon or early evening, breakfast may not be the best idea.
Who else is serving breakfast?
A key indicator if breakfast is a good idea for your restaurant is your competition. Is there a coffee shop within walking distance that has a waiting line every morning? Are you located near a business district, where professionals could get a quick breakfast on the go or gather for a morning meeting? What items are other breakfast restaurants serving on their breakfast menu and how much are they charging?
Do you have enough staff to work the breakfast shift?
Who among your existing staff work would be willing to give up a busy lunch or dinner shift for breakfast, with its low check averages and corresponding low tips? Some servers prefer to wait tables during breakfast because it works for their home life or other schedules. But be sure that your staff is willing to work the morning shift.
What breakfast equipment would you need to purchase?
The good news about offering breakfast is that you won’t have to invest in a great deal of new equipment. But you will need items like tea pots, cups and saucers, coffee mugs, perhaps a waffle iron.
Depending on your menu, you may need to make sure you have adequate storage, in both your walk-in and dry goods storage for breakfast supplies.
Before you commit to offering breakfast every day, consider a trial run first.
A good way to gauge how well breakfast will go over at your restaurant is to offer it as a promotion, on a weekend. Use these easy, in-house marketing strategies to entice existing customers into coming in on Sunday for a relaxed brunch and have customer comment cards ready for a critique session. Try this for a few weeks and assess. If breakfast doesn’t make sense during the weekday, you may be able to build a solid reputation for weekend brunch.
Breakfast is not right for every restaurant concept, but it does offer some tangible benefits for others. Unless your restaurant is doing hundreds of breakfast meals every day, it is not going to be a big money maker, but it can generate respectable income and increase customer base.
A typical restaurant breakfast menu generally offers low food cost and low overhead, and utlizes exisiting restauarant resources.