Operators create new spins on classics to differentiate themselves in a crowded breakfast market.

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Now that breakfast is a standard offering that has migrated into other dayparts, leading operators are finding that the way to stand out from the ever-growing breakfast crowd is to elevate breakfast basics. Rather than inventing completely new products, these operators are introducing spins on classic breakfast favorites like bacon, eggs, doughnuts, and biscuits that cash in on the popularity of traditional breakfast while offering customers something uniquely craveable.

Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken co-owners Elliot Spaisman and Jeff Halpern found that by serving unexpected flavors like passion fruit blackberry, maple bacon, and the most popular, crème brûlée, in the traditional doughnut form, they have been able to grow their regular customer base.

“It’s because we’re doing something different that I think people are willing to give us a try, and the word spreads, and their friends come, and we see the same customers again,” Spaisman says.

Spaisman and Halpern also serve traditional fried chicken, sausage gravy, and bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches, but with a twist, as they are all served on savory doughnuts.

“You have to stay on top of what people are looking for… and try to always come up with new ideas with your staff to push the envelope, ” Spaisman says.

Jack in the Box is also seeing success from using classic ingredients in new ways. Though the chain has served all-day breakfast for 25 years, the combination of old classics paired with new dishes is what keeps customers coming back.

“Our current breakfast menu features a mix of longtime favorites like the Breakfast Jack, our most popular breakfast item, and newer options like the Triple Cheese & Hash Brown Breakfast Burrito—the latest addition to our growing burrito line,” says Heywood McGuffee, breakfast category leader at Jack in the Box. “This elevated breakfast item features gooey Pepper Jack, Provolone, and Cheddar cheeses, along with fluffy scrambled eggs, a crispy golden hash brown, and Fire Roasted Salsa, all in a warm flour tortilla.

“Our guests tell us what they love, and today’s consumer demands craveable menu options now more than ever,” McGuffee says.

Bruegger’s Bagels offers traditional sandwiches for some guests, but also menus unique products that customers can only get at the chain to keep them coming back. Examples include the Mediterranean Sunrise bagel sandwich featuring Feta cheese spread, salami, sweet red peppers, cucumber, and egg on a spinach-Parmesan bagel, or the Sriracha Egg Sandwich pairing egg, sausage, Cheddar cheese, red peppers, and sriracha sauce with a plain bagel.

“Our core is pretty safe-harbor,” says Robert Kabakoff, executive chef at Bruegger’s. “There are items for people that don’t want to step out, but I think it’s fun for us to be able to offer our guests who come all the time or new guests something new and interesting. I want guests craving it—driving to Bruegger’s or walking and thinking about that sandwich.”

As breakfast continues to appear on more menus across the market, restaurants are seeing success from standing out from the competition. Unique ingredients, flavor profiles, and dishes are what keep patrons coming back to certain restaurants for their breakfast cravings.

by Peggy Carouthers

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