The (Un)Importance Of Being Open Early?

You got to your restaurant at 10am, and you’ve allotted yourself an hour to prepare for the day. This time is spent organizing any paperwork, responding to emails, and doing some simple training of your lunch staff. There may be a new dish to handle, a new employee to introduce, or a new change in the way things will work. This pre-open early hour also lets you wake up at 7AM, get a morning jog in before your morning coffee, take a shower ,and drive to work fully loaded for breakfast.

But… you may be missing the people who’d want to go to your restaurant for breakfast. Should a breakfast menu be part of your restaurant’s plan for success? Taco Bell has recently tested the waters, and it may not be as impossible as you think.

Time’s A Factor

Clearly, and most obviously, time is a factor if you wish to have a breakfast menu and extra hours. How early should you open the restaurant? How much staff will you need in those early hours? If you open early, how early will you have to wake up? Who can you schedule to open up early, and then who should be staying late to balance it off?

  • Don’t overstretch your means. If you are not a morning person, and can’t foresee being one, you’ll not be the one to run the morning shift. You may be able to set up and design a morning plan and assign someone to it, though.
  • While having an employee close one night and open the next might not have been a problem on the old schedule, your staff does need time to rest. At worst, make sure your staff members have at least eight hours between shifts; if things get tight and you have to schedule back-to-back shifts, make sure with the employee that it’s okay. They may agree to it, but they’ll appreciate the heads up or asking first.
  • Decide on what time to actually open, and plan to be at the restaurant a little earlier for your standard preparations. You may want to look at local businesses or ask your regulars what time they’d like to be able to come to the shop. If all the other business are opening at 7AM, that might imply as a good time to open shop.

Decide Your Menu

While you technically don’t need a new menu when you’re open early, you’re going to find that salads, hamburgers, and steak might not be the biggest sellers in the morning.

  • Look at what you have on the menu that may work as a breakfast staple. If you offer fruits, breads, and coffee, you’ll want to make sure these are available in the morning hours (coffee, especially). 
  • Get creative and see what can be crafted using ingredients you already have on hand. Eggs, bacon, assorted meats, breads, and more may already be included in your kitchen for various recipes, but could easily become breakfast items in new combinations and menu items.
  • Keep to your theme. If you’re known for your italian pastas and pizzas at night, basic eggs and toast may stand out as an oddity. You might want to craft a breakfast pizza instead. Likewise, if you’re known for sweet treats throughout the day, you might want to limit breakfast to donuts, bagels, and at most, a sweetly-seasoned meat, like maple-cured ham.

Be Flexible

  • If you’re opening at 7am and finding you don’t have anyone enter until 9am, change your opening time to 9am. You’ll save energy and man-hours.
  • Like any menu item, if it’s not selling, don’t keep it on the menu. Items on the menu that don’t sell invariably lead to kitchen confusion and wasted product.
  • You’ll invariably have someone who wants a menu item from later in the day earlier, and the opposite. If you have the products on hand, and the staff is trained and capable of producing items at all hours of the day, there’s no real reason to lose the sale.

A breakfast menu could increase the amount of people entering your restaurant, and improve profits for all hours. With a few changes, you may find yourself with a bunch of new business.