Taco Bell is expanding its presence in the competitive United States (US) fast-food market by announcing that, starting next month, it will be moving into the morning fast-food arena. Beginning March 27 at 7:00 a.m. those who begin their day with a morning run can top it off with a run for the border. The Taco Bell breakfast will be served each day until 11 a.m., which is a half-hour later than industry-leading McDonald’s cuts of their morning selections.
The Irvine, California-based company made the announcement today in a statement on its website, calling the new menu the largest, most extensive menu in the franchise’s 50-year history. Come late March, Taco Bell customers will have a new early hours choice of items like the A.M. Crunchwrap, Cinnabon Delights, Breakfast Burrito and the A.M. Taco. They’re also adding morning extras like hash browns, orange juice and coffee. After starting with basic drip coffee at the outset, they plan to move into specialty morning drinks like lattes.
The new menu may not be novel to some Taco Bell fans, as the Yum! Brands, Inc. subsidiary has been test-marketing their morning shift at several restaurant sites for two years. In those test-markets, breakfast accounted for around 4 percent of sales, but the chain is expecting a markedly larger number once they begin the full press of their marketing campaign. The roll-out of its new venture has been a major project for the nation’s leading “Mexican-inspired” quick service restaurant. The earlier hours have meant not only hiring new employees but also extensive training for existing employees. Taco Bell president Brian Niccol calls the new venture “a holistic effort” that his teams can take pride in, and store owners will be confident in executing.
Meanwhile, McDonalds has announced that they are considering expanding their breakfast hours, at least on Saturday and Sunday. The fast-food giant’s president Jeff Stratton said that ending at 10:30 on the weekends “doesn’t go very well.” The new thinking isn’t necessarily a reaction to the Taco Bell move to the mornings, but rather a response to a recent slump in sales. McDonalds reported a 1.4 percent slip in sales for the fourth quarter of 2013.
Here’s a detailed look at some of the new morning choices at Taco Bell which have all been made easy to hold and eat on the run:
–A.M. Crunchwrap: Scrambled eggs with hash browns, cheese and your choice of bacon, sausage or steak wrapped in a flour tortilla. A morning version of their traditional Crunchwrap.
–Waffle Taco: Waffle wrapped around sausage or bacon, with scrambled eggs and cheese.
–Sausage Flatbread Melt: Sausage patty and cheese wrapped in a flatbread and grilled.
–Breakfast Burrito: Meat, eggs and cheese in a tortilla.
Taco Bell’s move to the mornings adds another competitor to the already-crowded fast-food battlefield where, as always, McDonalds is king. Despite having less than 6,000 stores compared to 14-thousand displaying the golden arches, Niccol thinks his brand can be competitive. He says he thinks the morning menu can make Taco Bell a “strong number two.”
By Chuck Podhaisky