Adam Eskin, CEO and founder of fast casual Dig Inn, views breakfast as a largely forgotten daypart. And with his restaurant’s focus on a vegetable-centric menu, Eskin and the team see a hole where they could innovate in the sector.
The growing brand debuted its breakfast program at its new Upper East Side location in New York City, making it the restaurant’s first Big Apple location to serve all meals of the day. Earlier this year, Dig Inn launched breakfast service in Boston when it expanded there.
“We learned a lot from our breakfast launch and expansion in Boston in July, where we took a step away from the more typical fast casual model to develop something more similar to a full-service dining experience,” Eskin says. “Offering breakfast here—in addition to the space's design, decor, kitchen configuration, and custom-made tableware—delivers an elevated food experience, without having to sacrifice convenience or accessibility. This model pushes boundaries and is one we've tried to replicate in the NYC market.”
On Dig Inn’s breakfast menu you’ll find egg sandwiches with house-made sausage and lemon zest ricotta, breakfast bowls with ancient grains, roasted vegetables, soft boiled eggs and relishes, and a frittata made with leftover vegetables to curb food waste.
“We’re all about the vegetable game, and if you look at most breakfasts out there, they’re sadly pretty void of any nutrition, flavor, and seasonality,” says Matt Weingarten, culinary director at Dig Inn. “What we’ve tried to do with our A.M. program, is take all the items our customers love, and give them a Dig Inn twist.”
On Monday through Friday, the breakfast menu lasts from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m., and on Saturday and Sunday it is offered from 8 to 11 a.m. Lunch and dinner is then offered the rest of the day until 10 p.m.
“Given we use a lot of the same vegetables at breakfast, lunch and dinner, the cross-utilization of items has eased potential stress in the kitchen,” Weingarten says. “On the other hand, our new coffee program and barista training has been a huge learning curve, but we love being able to offer a fresh, ethically sourced coffee to go with your breakfast bowl.”
The restaurant uses all the same sourcing standards as it does for lunch and dinner, working with family farms to purchase vegetables. And for newer items, Weingarten says, all the bacon is antibiotic free, eggs are pastured raised, and dairy does not contain the hormone rBGH.
Dig Inn plans to roll out breakfast at every new New York City location it opens, which are two in early December, and three additional units early 2017. The restaurant has not shared when it will introduce breakfast at existing locations.
“Lunch and dinner have been all the rage in the fast casual space over the years, but no one was doing anything special with breakfast,” Eskin says. “We’re always looking for opportunities to innovate where other folks are either unwilling, or something they haven't yet thought of.”
By Alex Dixon