Feeling a pinch from McDonald’s All-Day Breakfast between 10:30 a.m. and noon, Jack in the Box’s response may be to create a new daypart it calls “Brunchfast” that bridges mornings and lunch.
The San Diego-based chain on May 26, 2016, filed a U.S. trademark registration for the term “Brunchfast.” Asked for comment on its intentions, a Jack in the Box spokesperson responded, “At this time, we are unable to share any info about Jack’s plans for use of the ‘Brunchfast’ trademark.”
Jack in the Box has previously shown that it can effectively create a new daypart. It built its late-night business to what now accounts for 15.3% of its sales not simply by being open 24/7 but by creating a separate late-night menu. “Jack’s Munchie Meals” are available only between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., although the remainder of the menu, including breakfast items, is served all day. But Jack in the Box could do something similarly limited between 10 a.m. and noon every day or just on weekends.
During the company’s Q2 earnings call with analysts on May 12, 2016, Chairman-CEO Len Comma said that “sales were positive during the entire breakfast day part with mix reaching an all-time high of 23% [of sales].” But he conceded that McDonald’s All-Day Breakfast contributed to “continued weakness in the 10:30 a.m. to noon period.” He attributed this in part to “the rollover from prior year’s promotions for Jack in the Box” but added, “it was certainly compounded though by the aggressive marketing of the breakfast-all-day promotion from one of our major competitors.”
In its Analysts Day presentations last month, Comma and other executives outlined its ongoing menu strategy to “migrate Jack in the Box from low quality QSR player to higher quality QSR+.” It has done this through introduction of innovative, high-end products like the Buttery Jack burger line added last year, the Black Pepper Cheeseburger, Triple Cheese & Hash Brown Breakfast Burrito and Homestyle Ranch Chicken Club. Any brunch menu can be expected to feature similarly sophisticated, proprietary flavor profiles. Perhaps it will bring back the Waffle Breakfast Sandwich it offered in 2012.
Jack in the Box isn’t the first QSR burger chain to consider the possibilities of brunch. In September 2014, McDonald’s Corp. trademarked the term “McBrunch,” but so far hasn’t used it here. Earlier, in 2010, Burger King briefly tested a “Burger King Brunch” menu in Massachusetts and Florida. That test included a ciabatta breakfast sandwich and a non-alcoholic mimosa.
It may be worth noting in connection with Jack in the Box’s interest in brunch that Frances Allen, who joined as president of the Jack in the Box brand in September 2014, previously had been EVP-Chief Brand Officer at breakfast powerhouse Denny’s.
Meanwhile, Jack of the Box has brought back the Portobello Mushroom iteration of its Buttery Jack burgers. One of the elements that sets these burgers apart from the pack is that the beef patties are basted with melted garlic-herb butter, like a fine steak. No domestic competitor has followed suit with that culinary touch, but I was interested to see that the Deutschland Burger (at l.) introduced this week at McDonald’s German restaurants as part of a UEFA Euro 2016 soccer promotion, gets the herb-butter treatment (plus bacon, red onion and pepper-Jack cheese).
McDonald’s will announce today that it is adding Tuscan red leaf lettuce and carrot curls to its salad blend. In response to consumer preferences, the chain last year dropped traditional iceberg lettuce in favor of a blend of chopped romaine, baby spinach and kale. Red leaf lettuce and carrot now join that mix in its Premium Bacon Ranch Salads, Premium Southwest Salads and side salad.
And I can’t resist doing an “In case you missed it” on Burger King’s “Whopperrito.” As reported by GrubGrade, this test-market beauty wraps up all the ingredients of a Whopper—beef, American cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, ketchup, pickles and white onion—in a tortilla (like the recently removed McWraps). There seems no end to the number of items Burge King can concoct using essentially these same ingredients plus one. It was just a month ago that Burger King put those ingredients on a hot dog and created the Whopper Dog.
I’m expecting those same ingredients to be combined with cheese sauce on french fries to create “Whopper Loaded Fries.” You heard it here first.