Taco John’s took a bold step and bet big on breakfast last year. The Mexican quick-service chain began giving away Meat & Potato Breakfast Burritos during a series of "Free Breakfast Day" promotions. The sampling events kicked off nationally in August of 2012 and have continued to be staged locally throughout 2013.
"Giving our signature breakfast burrito away was the best way to get as many of them as possible into guests’ mouths,” says Renée Middleton, vice president of marketing at Taco John’s. “It worked. Nearly every month since that day, breakfast sales have grown double digits in our restaurants. Some months, locations are experiencing almost 20 percent sales growth.”
When it comes to explaining why breakfast has become its fastest growing daypart, Taco John’s believes two factors are at work. The first is the flavor of the food.
“Our Meat and Potato Breakfast Burrito is by far our best-selling breakfast menu item. It’s something no one else can do,” says Bob Karisny, vice president of menu strategy and innovation at Taco John’s. “It’s a combination of our concept-defining flavors: Potato Olès and nacho cheese, blended with eggs and bacon or sausage.”
The other contributing factor is the portability of breakfast items at Taco John’s.
“Probably 70 to 75 percent of our breakfast business is at the drive-thru window. People are on a schedule. They want to get in, get their order, and get on their way,” says Shawn Eby, vice president of operations at Taco John’s. “Our breakfast menu items taste great and they travel very well.”
Sixteen months after first offering breakfast for free, Taco John’s is working to build on the strong sales it’s experiencing during the morning daypart. With new breakfast menu items in the test kitchen, Karisny believes the positive trend will continue.
“The sky is the limit,” Karisny says. “As long as we serve great-tasting breakfast menu items in our style, people will come to us knowing Taco John’s is the only place they can get these flavors in the morning.”