Equipment must-haves for supermarket breakfast menus

Who doesn’t love breakfast? Yet even the meal we’ve long dubbed “most important” has seen a noticeable boom in popularity over the last year, particularly when it comes to the breakfast options offered at deli counters, supermarkets and grocery stores across the country.

Earlier this year, Progressive Grocer reported annual sales increases for deli-prepared breakfast items like sandwiches (14.2 percent), quiche (17.9 percent) and combo plates (17.2 percent) between February 2015 and 2016. Interestingly enough, omelet sales from the prepared foods department grew more than 210 percent in that same timeframe.

Although this may look like a stark change, consumers still gravitate toward full-service and fast-food restaurants for breakfast. However, prepared foods can claim a bigger slice of the “early bird” prepared market with the right equipment investments. How should you outfit your prepared foods department to serve up delicious breakfasts and differentiate yourselves from the steep competition?

Fried eggs, pancakes, home fries – without the griddle, there would simply be no such thing as a hot breakfast. Whether the scope of your operations necessitates a 48-inch steam-heated griddle or a smaller tabletop range, starting your investment with a griddle means making a commitment to fresh ingredients, something many fast-food mainstays cannot offer and many Americans favor.

“Griddles may reduce on-site energy consumption.”

Additionally, adding a griddle to the commercial operations may actually reduce on-site energy consumption. Depending on the model, these devices require very little gas or electricity and are designed to use the energy they do consume efficiently.

To top it all off, griddles are versatile pieces of commercial equipment if you already cook things like crispy meatballs, tortillas from scratch or crab cakes, not to mention hot lunch sandwiches like Philly cheesesteaks, panini or American staples like burgers and hot dogs.

Grill presses
Breakfast sandwiches are the cornerstone of the made-to-order breakfast market. A morning menu without them would appear incomplete to hungry consumers, so any commercial operation considering a breakfast upgrade should take into account how their equipment would aid in breakfast sandwich production.

“Presses improve the quality of breakfast sandwiches.”

Presses improve the quality of breakfast sandwiches by crisping the bread and melting the cheese evenly. The extra special touch they add will certainly make the breakfast sandwiches from your prepared foods department stand out among the rest.

That said, placing a new piece of equipment into rotation could slow down a commercial kitchen if the machinery requires additional cleaning. Some models funnel grease into an easy-to-remove trap and includes a splash guard to avoid making a mess. Features like these can keeps things cooking during the breakfast rush while still reducing the amount of clean-up afterward, as well as provide a worry-free transition between morning and afternoon operations.

Infrared ovens
While many consumers may prefer fresh baked goods, frozen pastries and bagels last longer and allow businesses to manage demand effectively without running out of stock on a busy day. So, how can supermarkets and grocery stores offer fresh-tasting defrosted baked goods delicious enough to pass the quality standards of the discerning customer?

Infrared ovens were designed specifically with this challenge in mind. These innovative devices cook frozen goods from the inside out. Rather than risking a burned outer layer and a still-frozen center, infrared ovens rejuvenate frozen pastries properly so they reach the customer crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Moreover, defrosting and baking frozen goods takes a fraction of the time it takes traditional methods to achieve similar, albeit inferior, results.

Hot cases
Meal mobility is especially important to a breakfast menu. Customers want to start their days off right with a filling meal, but don’t want to waste too much time ordering and purchasing it. This conflict has led many to rely on low-quality fast-food options instead of opting for fresher products that take extra time to put together.

“Use hot cases to capitalize on quality and customer service.”

Prepared foods departments should use hot cases as a way to capitalize on both quality and customer service. Sandwiches and other breakfast items can be made first thing in the morning and kept warm until customers roll through on their way to work, school, etc. By skipping the ordering phase while still enjoying the freshness of a made-to-order meal, customers save time and eat well.

Hot cases also make it easier for commercial operations to anticipate the breakfast rush without risking shrinkage or service. Deli workers can make a stock commensurate with demand, thereby mitigating the number of hungry patrons who line up at the counter for custom orders.

With these crucial additions to the commercial equipment you already have behind the counter, breakfast won’t just be the most important meal of the day for your customers — it will also be the most profitable for your business.