Taco Bell to cook up breakfast burritos
The fast-food chain makes a push into morning sales, but can it compete with heavyweight McDonald's?
By Jeff Reeves
Taco Bell is largely responsible for the late-night snacking push across the fast-food world as one of the first major chains to stay open into the wee hours -- as late as 4 a.m. at most locations with its Fourthmeal menu.
Now the Mexican-style restaurant is looking to stay open so late that it'll actually open early. Taco Bell is introducing a breakfast menu at almost 800 restaurants.
The signature item? What else but a breakfast burrito.
According to top marketers at Yum Brands (YUM) -- the corporate parent of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC and other fast-food brands -- the chain hopes breakfast burritos will be cooking up nationwide by the start of 2014. But the first offerings are actually cooking up this morning, mostly in about a dozen Western states. Those lucky Firstmeal menu states include California, Arizona and Colorado. Breakfast hours start at 8 or 9 a.m., depending on location, and wind down at 11 a.m.
What's being served? Actually, some very impressive brands fill out the menu, including Johnsonville sausage, Tropicana orange juice, Cinnabon sweets and Starbucks (SBUX) Seattle's Best coffee.
Diners can order a 99-cent sausage or bacon-and-egg burrito or a $2.79 Grande Skillet Burrito with all the works. Or make them a combo with hash browns.
The move into breakfast shouldn't surprise anyone. McDonald's (MCD) has long been the standard bearer of fast-food breakfast, with some estimates pegging as much as 25% of sales for the Golden Arches coming from Egg McMuffins and morning coffees.
That makes it a big breakfast target. In 2010, Burger King completely revamped its menu to get into the a.m. action, with the new BK breakfast menu boasting an upscale cibatta sandwich. And Subway has been doing its darnedest to establish a breakfast following.
Taco Bell's push may spark curiosity, but its very late entry makes it questionable whether sales will find traction. It's harder to lose money on breakfast, since eggs are much cheaper than beef and veggies these days, but that doesn't mean Taco Bell has found a cash cow.
It's also worth noting that Taco Bell has been revamping much more than just breakfast. The company actually just launched items for its standard menu that are meant to appeal to fast-food consumers focused on fresh options.
Yum Brands will offer its next regular profit report on Feb. 6, so we'll see whether developments like these have helped the company keep up its streak of increasing sales. Yum has posted seven straight quarters of year-over-year growth.
Will the roll-out of Taco Bell breakfast help keep sales momentum strong? Maybe, maybe not. But it's certainly a reasonable strategy to grow Taco Bell's customer base.
Much more reasonable, say, than a recent harebrained scheme at Burger King to launch home burger delivery.
I quit Mickey D's early on when I stood in line for 20 minutes for an egg McMuffin and when I came to the top of the line, I was told the magic hour of 10 AM had arrived by 10 seconds, so I was out of luck, (or breakfast).
So it all depends on when Taco Bell shuts it off.
I'm pretty happy with the all day breakfast at Jacks.
the Taco Bell's here in our area (Ohio) have been serving breakfast for over a year now ... the skillet burritos are actually pretty good
What, no breakfast tacos?
They are a staple of the diet down here.
As for calling the BK idea of delivery "hairbrained", where is there any evidence of that? It could well work out very favorably for them. But it's premature to call it hairbrained since they haven't even started it yet. I used to live where we could get burgers delivered, I realy liked it.
Ken Leatherbarrow, I like you find the breakfast cut-off time too early. I have not been able to find this answer, my one and only Taco Bell is not slated to be serving breakfast.
in their area. All year long both night and day, people travel. It might be nice to see on an exit
sign that these restaurants or fast food franchises are now open 24/7.
I really don't however support a combo franchise such as Kentucky Fried/Taco Bell.
Each should be separate Restaurants in separate buildings. This way they don't have conflicting hours of operation.
Why not include a breakfast taco as well? Contact me for more information.
Get away from Starbucks coffee which is way over priced and come into the real world.
The coffee selling giants of this country are Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts.
The price of a cup of coffee is outrageous. A specialty coffee, or lets say a collate is even worse at about $4.00 each.
MORE ON MSN MONEY
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Quotes are real-time for NASDAQ, NYSE and AMEX. See delay times for other exchanges.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.
Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.
Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.