After venturing boldly into the wilds of 'Fourth Meal,' Taco Bell (NYSE:YUM) is returning to more well-trod territory with the roll out of a new 'First Meal' breakfast menu, which expands to 100 restaurants in three cities on Thursday (August 8).
The taco chain has been offering breakfast in some 850 locations in 10 western states since early this year, but the slight increase is aimed at determining how stores will deal with the added operational pressure of new items.
"You only get one shot when you go with big items," Taco Bell's CMO Brian Niccol told the Associate Press.
The star of the new menu is the waffle taco, a culinary creation that is pretty much exactly what you think it is: sausage and egg inside a taco-shaped waffle, with a side of syrup, of course. That particular item was tested in five Southern California restaurants earlier this year and sparked 4 million impressions when one surprised customer posted a photo on Instagram.
The waffle taco will be available alongside healthier options like yogurt parfaits and oatmeal, as well as proven breakfast items like the A.M. Crunchwrap and a new MTN Dew Kickstart fountain drink.
The move is part of Taco Bell's goal to double sales from $7 billion to $14 billion over the next 10 years, chief food innovation officer Liz Matthews told Nation's Restaurant News. With expenses like rent and utilities remaining fixed, more and more food chains have been looking to squeeze as many sales as possible into the day by moving beyond just lunch and dinner (Second Meal and Third Meal in Taco Bell-speak).
Taco Bell's parent company Yum Brands made it clear to AP that they see breakfast as the next big daypart they can move into, despite breakfast accounting for only 4 percent of sales in the restaurants where it has been available.
"We've been really happy with the performance [of breakfast] so far," said Matthews. "As we go into this test we're being really open because we're learning. We're going to get this right."
The new menu is being tested in Fresno, California; Omaha, Nebraska; and Chattanooga, Tennessee. If it's successful, it could go national sometime next year.
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