The business breakfast changes with the times
The business breakfast isn’t what it used to be—it’s better. It’s also healthier, more convenient and available during more of the day. And that’s because business diners aren’t what they used to be.
To be sure,
groups of executives in dark suits can still be found hammering out deals over power breakfasts at upscale hotel restaurants and elegant all-day-dining spots like New York’s Balthazar. Yet, more and more operators are catering to time-crunched, Wi-Fi-craving millennials looking for fresh, tasty bites that they can either linger over for a few minutes of real facetime with colleagues or bring to the office to devour while working.
The business breakfast “has always been a good opportunity to get going in the morning, but I think what’s happening is people are eating a lot lighter,” says Doug Roth, founder and president of Playground Hospitality, a restaurant consulting firm in Chicago.
“It’s not always oatmeal, two eggs, bacon and a side of pancakes anymore,” he continues. “It can be as small as going to Starbucks and having one of their sous vide Egg Bite dishes and a cup of coffee.”
Roth added that restaurants that want to grab the breakfast market are making an effort to embrace smaller portions and healthier dishes, or at least incorporate healthy ingredients into traditional recipes.
“Big doesn’t mean better, so you’re seeing items that are portioned a little differently than in the past, and items of perceived healthfulness if not always healthiness,” he explains. “There may be items like egg white omelets, egg white French toast and so on.”
Providing a welcoming, greenery-filled dining area—as well as offering breakfast items throughout the day—attracts a steady flow of professionals to Jane’s Garden Café in Naples, Fla.
“We get a lot of local business people, particularly for client meetings as our space is so beautiful and peaceful,” says owner Jane Wood. “Many of them order items like our power breakfast sandwich, any of our salads, or something like the quiche of the day. They are filling and they look good.”
The trend toward lighter, higher-quality breakfast options is well represented on the menu, and Wood takes advantage of their popularity—and the ability to use ingredients through more dayparts—by offering them as all-day options.
“We emphasize brunch rather than pure breakfast, and this is a competitive advantage for us because any time of the day you can come in and get your choice,” Wood adds. “We believe this has changed the business breakfast significantly, because even if you come in for an afternoon business lunch you are able to order eggs and bacon.”
The best-selling breakfast item at French Meadow Bakery & Café in Minneapolis should be no surprise to anyone with even a passing familiarity with the dining habits of millennials.
“The latest trend is avocado toast,” according to consulting chef Beth Fisher. “People believe this option to be not only truly tasty, but also healthy, and it has quickly risen to the top of our breakfast offerings.
Breakfast for Victor usually means a hand-rolled onion bagel with whitefish salad from his favorite Brooklyn bagel shop. But he'll occasionally cheat on this New York staple if he catches a whiff of fresh croissants from the local pâtisserie.