Industry News | September 23, 2013
Bruegger’s Looks Back on 30 Years of Evolution
Back in the age of big hair, Bon Jovi, and Pac-Man, a small bakery planted its roots in Burlington, Vermont, with the goal of bringing New York–style bagels to its founders’ neighborhood. The originators of the Bruegger’s Bagels concept had no idea that their bagels would eventually be in many neighborhoods across the country.
This year commemorates not only Bruegger’s 30th anniversary, but also the brand’s 300-store milestone. The company now has stores in 26 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada.
“I think the key [to Bruegger’s success] has always been knowing who we are,” says Paul Carolan, chief development officer for Bruegger’s. “We’re not trying to be everything to everybody.”
Many things have changed since the early ’80s, Carolan says, but Bruegger’s product is not one of them.
“The core of who Bruegger’s is, is a boiled, baked bagel with the best ingredients possible and the freshest ingredients possible,” Carolan says. “We also only use dairy products coming out of Vermont to maintain that consistency and quality.”
Carolan says Bruegger’s has also evolved, adding new products and applying modern baking techniques. Bruegger’s menu now features a variety of coffee drinks, sandwiches, salads, soups, and desserts in addition to its signature bagels. When the first shop opened in Burlington, dough was prepared daily in the kitchen, Carolan says. Now, in order to provide consistency in all stores, Bruegger’s manufactures its dough in a raw dough state, flash-freezes the product, and distributes it to each franchisee.
Another Bruegger’s signature that has evolved in the last 30 years is its vintage store design.
“In the store design, we try to maintain the heritage of back in the original days, when [cofounder] Nord Brue started in historical buildings that had brick,” Carolan says. “If we look at the evolution of our prototype, we’re ensuring that we keep those core elements in it that were there from the beginning. We don’t try to be Panera Bread-esque, if you will; we want to be who we are.”
Carolan believes the brand has done a stellar job preserving its heritage while also adapting to the modern foodservice industry, the most recent adaptation being expansion into nontraditional settings.
“If you can grow in a nontraditional environment in today’s world, that says you are still a very relevant brand to today’s consumers, because they want you closer to them in their normal life,” Carolan says.
Last year, Bruegger’s began placing stores on college campuses and in airports. Carolan says Bruegger’s Virginia Tech franchise has been very successful and has encouraged the brand to pursue other colleges and university settings. The concept has also seen success in airport terminals. Its Cleveland Hopkins International Airport unit has flourished, and another store will open in the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport this fall.
Carolan says the most exciting expansion Bruegger’s has in the works is its plan to cobrand with Caribou Coffee.
“We realized that we’ve had a great relationship and results whenever our stores were adjacent to a Caribou Coffee,” he says. “We’re testing building a Caribou full-coffee experience inside a Bruegger’s and vice-versa with them.”
By Marlee Murphy
Food & Beverage
Move Over 4-Leggers, 2-Leggers Coming In!
Just ran across some surprising breakfast info and thought it was worth sharing, then watching where it goes. Although McDonald’s has offered its Southern Style Chicken Biscuit on the breakfast menu for several years now, and of course, Chick-fil-A menus chicken at breakfast, it came as a surprise to this writer that both chicken and turkey have gained significant ground on the breakfast menu. It seemed worthy of further investigation.
It turns out that both turkey and chicken have been getting more popular as a component of the morning meal. In a report published earlier this year, Technomic found that 24% of consumers surveyed said they’ve been eating turkey at breakfast more often than they had two years before, while 11% had been eating more chicken.
I dug further. Technomic also found that 70% of those saying their poultry consumption had risen mentioned a desire to eat more healthfully was the motivator behind their choices.
Okay, so chicken or turkey in the morning. But where were these people getting their wake-up proteins? Were they all firing up their broilers in the morning? Seemed unlikely.
So were they were going to McDonald’s or Chick-fil-A? Could be, but I discovered there are many operators offering chicken or turkey items in the a.m., I just hadn’t had my radar tuned in right.
Some of the options hew closely to the classics, with bacon or sausage made from chicken or turkey:
- Energy Breakfast Sandwich (Energy Kitchen) uses five egg whites with low-fat American cheese and turkey bacon on a honey whole-wheat English muffin.
- Power Panini Thin with Chicken Apple Sausage (Corner Bakery) is made with scrambled eggs or egg whites, chicken apple sausage, and Parmesan and Cheddar cheeses on thinly sliced whole-grain harvest toast.
- Santa Fe Egg Wrap (Einstein Bros Bagels) includes eggs, turkey sausage with ancho lime salsa, jalapeño schmear and pepper jack cheese.
Others use the more familiar forms of the poultry:
- Power Wrap (First Watch) is made with fluffy egg whites, turkey, spinach, house-roasted crimini mushrooms and Swiss in a sun-dried tomato basil tortilla.
- 2 Egg & Cheddar Sandwich with Roasted Turkey (Au Bon Pain) has a self-explanatory name and is served on a choice of breads.
- Breakfast Burrito with Chicken (Qdoba) is a flour or whole-wheat tortilla filled with grilled chicken, eggs, potatoes, choice of sauces and salsas, and optional shredded cheese or sour cream.
Did you note something in common in all those descriptions? Each one of them includes eggs!
Now I know what you’re thinking: this is a blog for the American Egg Board, so of course those items all include eggs. But foodservice operators are pretty savvy about the American consumer and they don’t include eggs just for fun. Eggs are a tasty, nutrient dense protein and just happen to be delicious.
Oh, by the way, are there eggs on the breakfast sandwiches you normally order? Uh huh. I thought so.
For more, visit www.AEB.org