The Mexican-style fast-food chain that caters to the late-night snacking crowd has introduced a breakfast menu in 800 restaurants in 14 states, including Colorado.
If the launch goes well, Taco Bell plans to begin selling its breakfast burritos and hash browns in its 5,600 locations nationwide by 2014. (Taco Bells in Colorado Springs reached Thursday said the breakfast rollout has not yet extended to them.)
Taco Bell is entering the mad scramble by fast-food heavyweights to compete for the morning on-the-go crowd. Breakfast has become the most important meal of the day for restaurants, accounting for virtually all of the industry’s growth in the past five years.
“Right now we’re not getting our fair share of that,” said Brian Niccol, Taco Bell’s chief marketing and innovation officer. “We want to get our fair share and then some.”
Breakfast’s new popularity has a lot to do with the economy. When people are out of work, they dine out much at all. Lunch sales, in particular, fall because they’re not grabbing a bite to eat during the workday. And at a time when people are cutting back on discretionary spending, breakfast is a cheaper alternative when eating out than dinner.
Fast-food restaurants have taken notice. Subway started offering breakfast in 2010. Wendy’s is starting to get into the breakfast game, too. And Burger King, Starbucks and McDonald’s in recent years have been expanding their offerings of everything from breakfast sandwiches to oatmeal and smoothies.
For its part, Taco Bell is teaming with such popular brands as Johnsonville, Cinnabon, Tropicana and Seattle’s Best for its breakfast menu that range in price from 99 cents to $2.79. The menu includes burritos stuffed with eggs and either sausage, bacon or steak; sausage and egg wraps; hash browns; hot or iced coffee; and orange juice.
Customers can buy the breakfast items in Taco Bell locations in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado. A limited number of stores in Texas, Ohio and Oklahoma will also have the breakfast menu.