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Menu Innovation Spurring Breakfast’s Revival at Restaurants

As professionals return to offices and on-site work post-pandemic-peak, restaurants are revitalizing breakfast service in a trend back toward innovative items with international influences.

Chains are driving morning traffic back with discounts and deals, TODAY (May 20) reports; Restaurant Business (June 1) details Asian, Israeli, Italian and Mexican dish development; and QSR (June 9) cites Coca-Cola research on spicy, vegan and vegetarian items trending.

Fast-food restaurants welcome the revival with elevated takes on breakfast sandwiches, such as Burger King’s new Cheesy Breakfast Melts with bacon, black forest ham or sausage, that debuted in May.

In the same month, Guy Fieri’s fast-casual Chicken Guy! launched an indulgent breakfast menu boasting a Maple Butter Pancake Tender Sandwich in Winter Park, Florida; Nashville’s Prince’s Hot Chicken debuted a breakfast menu with a Mini Cinnamon Roll Cupcake among more standard fare (of course, a hot chicken biscuit and wrap); and Taco Bell began testing a Grilled Cheese Biscuit in Knoxville, Tennessee.


Independent, full-service restaurants are still reopening for breakfast in the last few weeks, including Eden offering smoothies and baked goods in Chicago; Rosie’s serving Italian gremolata and sformato in Miami; Comet Cafe with vegan sausage and scramble in Milwaukee; and The Mecca sticking to comfort food and a few Creole brunch plates in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“We are beginning to see the return of business travel and morning business meetings which has definitely made breakfast a busier time,” said Chef Jenn Crovato of 1310 Kitchen & Bar in D.C.’s Georgetown. “Our signature Shakshuka – a blend of tomato, red pepper, onion, spinach, garlic, cumin, paprika, coriander, red pepper flakes, and feta on the side, with the option to add on eggs and bread – continues to be a popular choice.”

Meanwhile, global flavors shine at Austin’s revived Kerlaches truck, where Kerlin BBQ stuffs the handheld Czech pastries with brisket, pork belly, sausage, or spinach and feta. California’s Breakfast Republic is offering a Japanese Spicy Chicken Sandwich special at its now 13 locations.

And Chicago’s Bryn Mawr Breakfast Club serves indulgent takes on Korean pancakes (pajun), Caribbean omelettes with spicy shrimp and mango chutney, and Mexican chilaquiles and concha.

Pret A Manger CEO Pano Christou recognized the influx in travel as a cause for breakfast’s boost in a recent Bloomberg video. Travelers are experiencing the menu trends at places like the InterContinental Washington, D.C., where breakfast at on-site Vietnamese restaurant Moon Rabbit features items like Chef Kevin Tien’s Loco Moco Breakfast Bowl with Jasmine rice, hamburger steak, fried egg, Maggi gravy, herbs, pickled onions and furikake.


Plant-based breakfasts keep up with the creativity at New York’s Two Hands, where a miso mushroom bowl combines kimchi, puffed rice, quinoa, lemongrass ginger dressing and chili oil with its vegetables and egg.

In Venice, California, De Buena Planta packs its Desayuno Plate with Lemon pepper hashbrowns, Impossible chorizo, pickled jalapeño and onions, salsa quemada, cotija cheese and corn tortilla made in-house. Breakfast and brunch concept Snooze Eatery serves griddled sweet potatoes with asparagus, mushrooms, onions, avocado, egg and house Sriracha maple syrup.

The Food Institute analyzed the IRI report in February, in which consumers picked health and variety as key drivers for breakfast decisions while sales statistics showed baked goods, croissants, deli items and entrees led year-over-year growth (14-20%).

Micro chains specializing in some of these singular breakfast favorites, like Biscuit Love and Five Daughters in the Southeast and Yolk in the Midwest, are testing the trends. Biscuit Love revamped its roasted veggie bowl in February, Five Daughters ran a Vietnamese Coffee donut flavor in May, and Yolk has developed breakfast empanadas with pork belly and pineapple at its Chicago test kitchen.