If you’ve previously overlooked adding a brunch service due to fears of extra food costs and waste (especially during the pandemic), now is the perfect time to revisit the idea.
Adding a weekend brunch menu can actually lead to significant growth, as low cost of breakfast food ingredients can increase your profit margin for dishes. And holiday style brunch events especially can offer a great source of revenue; for example, Mother’s Day is the most popular brunch day of the entire year according to OpenTable.
Plus, the market fit for brunch is pretty diverse. Brunch attracts a variety of guests from touring foodies, to the hungover crowd, to those on-the-go post weekend activities, families, and more.
So if starting a brunch service for your restaurant is on your mind - either as a seasonal offering, for spring holidays, or as a permanent revenue stream…
Check out our 7 newbie tips to get started on your brunch menu.
1. Start with items which call for ingredients that you already stock.
Chef Anthony Russo of Russo Restaurants suggests starting out with 7-8 basic brunch items to avoid added food waste and extra costs, especially while you test out your market. And the good news is, these dishes can be created using the ingredients that you already order.
In his experience, Chef Russo utilized ingredients like mushrooms and goat cheese which were staples in their Italian entrees, to make omelettes with a creative twist - so he found his only added cost were the eggs (which you may order already.)
An added plus: when time it’s time to order for your brunch menu, you’ll spend less time searching for additional suppliers, and can quickly adjust quantities of existing orders - especially if you have a digitalized system.
Start by brainstorming brunch menu ideas while referencing your order guides. Make note of any produce, dairy, and meat products that you could utilize in a brunch dish, or even get started testing a dish by repurposing your extra ingredients.
2. Give customers something they can’t find elsewhere.
There are the known brunch favorites, but alternative options turn into the dishes that attract customers. And to the point above, if you’re using some of your existing ingredients you’ll likely be creating some dishes that are your brand’s creative twist on traditional brunch.
According to Famous Toastery co-founder and CEO Robert Maynard, this is to your advantage. Maynard attributes his business’ brunch success to the fact their menu ventured outside the box, by including special wine pairings with each breakfast dish.
Brunch dishes like crepes, omelettes, savoury toasts, and even waffles are classics that you can create into something special with your own add-ins and toppings. Ultimately, giving your customer’s something unique and memorable by incorporating your cuisine style and restaurant concept into your dishes will lend to success.
3. Incorporate these two dining trends.
Comfort food is here to stay in 2022, so if you’re looking for menu additions, adding satisfying warm dishes are a safe bet for a crowd-pleaser! There are plenty of comfort classics that are worthy and adaptable for a brunch menu - think quiche, pot-pies, tostadas, paninis, mac and cheese.. the options are endless.
Plant-based foods were predicted to be the second-hottest trend in 2022 - and it’s a trend worth jumping on to meet the dietary needs of all your brunch guests and consequently a successful service . To appeal to a variety of diners, ensure that your menu contains a couple plant based options or alternative ingredients that guests can swap out.
4. Partner with a local supplier to reduce in house prep.
A great brunch includes sweet treats in addition to the savoury classics.
If you’re looking to save time on brunch prep, while still providing a variety of options in your service, consider sourcing baked goods such as pastries or cookies, from a local bakery partner.
These menu items will be low-effort for your team, while simultaneously building out your menu. Plus, a local partnership is a great way to continue to facilitate mutual support for businesses in the industry as economic recovery from pandemic inevitably continues.
To start, check out bakeries in your neighbourhood who can provide goods at wholesale price. Or, do further research by connecting with local cafes & pantry goods stores to find out where they source any treats.
5. Target your existing customers and brand fit.
In-house advertising is a great way to promote your brunch service to regular guests, and encourage them to bring friends.
Encourage your staff to mention your brunch specials or upcoming events during your other services, or add cards to your table setting for guests to check out when they arrive at their table, to notify them of your new offerings and hours.
Further, to target your existing customers, stay true to your brand with your brunch menu and concept. A great example is Insomnia in Toronto; they’re a bar by night and brunch restaurant by day! They capitalize on knowing a thing or two about hangovers, to bring the night crowd back in the morning!
6. Growth hack your brunch menu.
While good food and good service will inevitably be factors in the success of your brunch service, the key a profitable menu - for any meal of the day - is math.
Meaghan O’Shea of Founding Farmers, advises those starting a brunch to set prices fairly. Your diners to know ingredients like eggs and toast aren’t costing an arm and a leg. In her interview with OpenTable, O’Shea notes “if [menu items are] too expensive.. you will cut off your business at the ankles…The sweet spot is where quality meets affordability.”
But pricing is not the only factor in your brunch profitability.
Check out Menu Hacking: Smart Design to Maximize Profits for tips to organize and price items on your menu for profit, as well as other menu psychology tactics like guiding your guests towards high profit dishes.
While you shouldn’t expect new costs associated with breakfast to be high, it’s important to maintain awareness as you experiment in a new market for ultimate success.
You can learn how to calculate your cost per meal in our Menu Hacking article to ensure you’re truly maximizing your revenue and profits with brunch offerings.
7. Advertise on your social media.
Whether you’re starting out your service, planning a special brunch promotion or a holiday brunch menu, be sure to capitalize by advertising reservations on your social channels in advance.
Social media is one of the most effective tactics to gain restaurant visibility. It allows customers to check out your menus and foodie photos prior to the weekend so they can plan ahead. And making your restaurant brand and offerings visible to potential customers will have the largest impact on increasing traffic for your restaurant.
Plus, people love to be the first to discover the latest and greatest - you can encourage your customers to promote your menu on their social channels. A great way to direct customers to do so is to include a hashtag and your instagram username on your menu, so that guests know how to tag your business. And you can repost their content too!
Every restaurant will have a different style and take on their brunch menu and service, but these 7 tips are top starters for success.