8 Ways to Build Brunch Business
As brunch gains popularity, it pays to know ways to create a share-worthy social experience.
Brunch has evolved from a formal Easter or Mother’s Day meal into a casual weekend social gathering. According to Rachel Kalt, Senior Strategist with The Culinary Edge, a San Francisco-based restaurant consultancy, millennials—born between 1977-1992—are looking for social, inventive, adventurous, and boozy brunch experience.
“Traditions and norms are disappearing in foodservice,” says Rob Corliss, founder of All Things Epicurean, a Missouri-based restaurant consultancy. “Staying relevant to your target audience is about evolving with consumer need states and life stages. If you want to capture the consumer, you have to capture the occasion they want to experience.”
It’s not just millennials who are looking for a modern brunch experience. All generations, but especially baby boomers—born 1946-1965—spend more away-from-home dollars on breakfast than any other generation.
“Brunch is supported by those with time on their hands and disposable income assigned to food away from home,” says Mindy Armstrong, Director of Insights and Innovation for Food IQ, a Missouri-based consumer-insight-driven innovation firm. “While consumers typically prioritize convenience and speed on weekdays, they are more willing to slow it down on weekends.”
Datassential, which tracks menu trends, reports that the number of restaurants offering brunch grew by 14 percent from 2011-2015.
Ways to Build a Brunch Business
1. Make Brunch Share-Worthy
Millennials and Gen Z—born after 1992—call the Internet home. Share-worthy brunches satisfy these diners and create social buzz, attracting new customers. Customers who discover you through social media may try you during other dayparts.
2. Make Brunch Fun and Social
Booze is helping propel brunch forward, giving it a laid-back, sociable vibe. Creative punches, bloodys, and beer cocktails tie in nicely with brunch, but don’t discount ambiance.
Shareables also deliver the sociable vibe of modern brunch. Think house punches, pitchers of mimosas, platters of chicken and waffles, and creative hashes.
3. Offer Experiential Items
Make brunch special with menu items and flourishes that aren’t available during typical service. “Consider beverages prepared and served tableside, such as pour-over coffee or fresh-pressed juices,” Armstrong suggests.
4. Run Seasonal Brunch Menus
Give guests a chance to experience local, seasonal items in fun, adventurous brunch fare.
“Offer a seasonal menu during the brunch hours that is true to your region and your season, giving consumers an opportunity to experience the best of their home,” Armstrong says. “Give credit on the menu to the farmers.”
5. Keep the Menu Limited and Specific
Steam trays of scrambled eggs and sausages don’t make the cut in the modern brunch trend. Diners want personality and a point of view.
“Pick a few items and do them really well, such as amazing pancakes with a flight of housemade syrups, or build-your-own breakfast tacos,” Armstrong says.
Just remember, Corliss adds, “brunch dishes can be rooted in the familiar, but need to deliver wow factor.”
6. Showcase a Themed Brunch
Stand out with a singular focus or theme for weekend brunch, Corliss suggests. Examples: Southern-inspired brunch items, a tapas or snacks brunch menu, a farmers-market focus, or a singles-only brunch.
7. Create Your Own Brunch Daypart
There are no rules for when brunch should be served. “If there is a time of day your business is lagging or there are additional hours when you think you can capture revenue, make that your brunch time frame,” Corliss says.
Dinner-only operations could offer pickup service on Saturday nights of their best-selling bulk prepared menu items. Guests could reheat these creations for Sunday brunch.
Breakfast-lunch operations could offer a Sunday-supper brunch, featuring variations of their breakfast/lunch menu in a shareable dinner format.
8. Market your Killer Brunch Menu
“Place clever marketing and social-media messaging behind your brunch,” Corliss says. Use in-house signage and social-savvy promotions on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.