How Breakfast is Evolving for Mobile Restaurants

Mobile restaurants continue to flourish, especially those spotlighting breakfast. Day after day, operators of food trucks, food trailers and food carts continue to sell out of their breakfast items. These portable venues are sought after by consumers because they offer a unique foodservice experience, ranging from gourmet menus to flashy vehicles to staff with outgoing personalities. As mobile restaurants continue to find success at breakfast, more independent and chain operators are launching their own versions to reap the benefits.

For consumers, mobile restaurants offer a diverse selection of portable foods and beverages to meet their hurried lifestyles. When asked what they find appealing about purchasing breakfast from a mobile restaurant, over half of consumers (53%) cited the good-tasting food and beverage items. Mobile restaurants have a reputation for offering highly craveable selections such as street foods, snacks and sweets.

Price also plays an important factor in mobile restaurant breakfast purchases, with over a third of consumers (36%) citing affordable offerings as being appealing. Other noteworthy takeaways regarding the appeal of mobile restaurants for breakfast include:

  • Convenience — which includes the food and beverage being easy to eat on the go, speedy service and convenient mobile restaurant locations — is an extremely appealing attribute

  • Consumers find the unique selection of offerings found at mobile restaurants to be slightly more appealing than the high-quality ingredients

  • Although mobile venues are often go-to destinations for ethnic fare during lunch and dinner, fewer than one in 10 consumers find mobile restaurants appealing for breakfast ethnic foods and beverages

Interestingly, although ethnic fare does not rank high when thinking about mobile restaurant attributes, three ethnic-inspired breakfast dishes — breakfast burrito, breakfast taco and breakfast empanada — appear in the top 10 for most appealing food at these venues. This presents opportunities for mobile restaurant operators to market more ethnic items like breakfast baos and empanadas.

Breakfast items that rank below the top 10 — which include biscuits, pancakes and French toast — are also the more traditional plated breakfasts that are typically associated with a sit-down restaurant experience. However, mobile restaurant operators are now demonstrating that nothing is off limits for food trucks, trailers and carts, with breakfast items that are usually plated now being served from a moveable venue — often in creative ways.

Here is how some operators are transforming these plated breakfasts into portable meals:

  • Mini or bite-sized biscuits, pancakes, waffles and French toast served with gravy or syrup packets for dipping

  • Pancakes, waffles and French toast served on a stick with syrup packets for dipping

  • Using pancakes, waffles and French toast as the base component of a breakfast taco, burrito or sandwich

Mobile Restaurant Breakfast Innovation

Since mobile food trucks, trailers and carts often drive trends at breakfast, consumers are coming to rely on these destinations when seeking something beyond the norm at breakfast. This includes new hybrid foods, unique flavor pairings and nontraditional presentations. Here is a look at a few innovative mobile restaurants that are redefining breakfast.

Transformative Movements Occurring within Mobile Restaurants

Although mobile restaurants lead breakfast innovation in many aspects, they have also lagged behind in regards to other larger industry and consumer trends. Here are three important movements happening within mobile restaurants to help these operators remain competitive with brick-and-mortars.

  1. Improving Quality Perception

    In the past, mobile restaurants were known more for their craveability than their quality. Some mobile restaurant operators are working to change that image by spotlighting high quality preparations and ingredients, which include local, natural and organic items.

  2. Adding Customization

    The customization trend boomed with the growth of fast-casual restaurants. As consumers increasingly expect the ability to build meals their way, mobile restaurant operators are finding opportunities to add personalization options on their menus. Guests now often have a choice of condiments, toppings and sauces for items like doughnuts and pancakes, as well as fillings for breakfast handhelds.

  3. Meeting Individual Dietary Needs

    Mobile venue operators are learning how to broaden their limited menus to satisfy individual consumer needs, whether that be for gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian or even kosher or halal fare.

3 Areas of Opportunity for Mobile Restaurant Breakfast

  1. Continue to Think Outside the Box

    Mobile restaurants are driving visits by building a reputation for offering unique foods, flavors and presentations at breakfast. Since these nontraditional offerings help distinguish mobile restaurants from the competition, operators of these venues should continue to experiment with their menus and push the boundaries of breakfast. Opportunities exist to explore more ethnic breakfast options as well as new ways to turn plated breakfasts into portable meals.

  2. Balance Craveability and Quality

    Mobile restaurant operators are known for selling highly craveable offerings but they are still working to improve the quality perception of their menus. Spotlighting household brand names with strong quality reputations is one way to help shift consumers’ perception of mobile restaurant breakfast foods. This could include pairing biscuits with Smucker’s fruit spreads, or topping pancakes and waffles with Smucker’s maple and fruit syrups.

  3. Enhance Value Through Customization

    The ability to personalize a meal is now an expectation for consumers. Mobile restaurant operators can find ways to add customization to their menus by allowing guests to select their own meats, cheeses, breads and toppings. Providing takeaway packets of fruit spreads, peanut butter and other condiments and sauces is an easy way to encourage customization without slowing down the service process.

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