Taco Bell breakfast debuts; some stores open 24 hours

Taco Bell breakfast is here. The Mexican-style fast-food chain that caters to the late-night snacking crowd with tacos and gorditas, introduced a Taco Bell breakfast menu Thursday at almost 800 restaurants in 14 states.

Taco Bell Corp./AP
This product image provided by Taco Bell Corp., shows Taco Bell's new Johnsonville sausage and egg wrap, one of the items the fast-food chain will be offering on its new breakfast menu which debuts on Jan. 26.

Yo quiero Taco Bell breakfast burrito!

The Mexican-style fast-food chain that caters to the late-night snacking crowd with tacos and gorditas, introduced a breakfast menu Thursday at almost 800 restaurants in 14 states.

If the launch goes well, Taco Bell plans to begin selling its breakfast burritos and hash browns in its 5,600 locations nationwide by 2014.

Taco Bell is entering the mad scramble by fast-food heavyweights to compete for the morning on-the-go crowd. Breakfast has become the most important meal of the day for restaurants, accounting for virtually all of the industry's growth in the past five years.

"Right now we're not getting our fair share of that," said Brian Niccol, Taco Bell's chief marketing and innovation officer. "We want to get our fair share and then some."

Breakfast's new popularity has a lot to do with the economy. When people are out of work, they dine out much at all. Lunch sales, in particular, fall because they're not grabbing a bite to eat during the workday. And at a time when people are cutting back on discretionary spending, breakfast is a cheaper alternative when eating out than dinner.

Fast-food restaurants have taken notice. Subway started offering breakfast in 2010. Wendy's is starting to get into the breakfast game, too. And Burger King, Starbucks and McDonald's in recent years have been expanding they're offerings of everything from breakfast sandwiches to oatmeal and smoothies.

For its part, Taco Bell is teaming with such popular brands as Johnsonville, Cinnabon, Tropicana and Seattle's Best for its breakfast menu that range in price from 99 cents to $2.79. The menu includes burritos stuffed with eggs and either sausage, bacon or steak; sausage and egg wraps; hash browns; hot or iced coffee; and orange juice.

Customers can buy the breakfast items in Taco Bell locations in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado. A limited number of stores in Texas, Ohio and Oklahoma will also have the breakfast menu.

Some Taco Bell restaurants already are open around the clock to accommodate the new breakfast offerings. Others will open at least one hour earlier, which means an 8 or 9 a.m. opening for many. The stores will stop serving breakfast at 11 a.m.

That's a later start time than most other fast-food chains offering breakfast have. But it's a reflection ofTaco Bell's core customers — the 18- to-20-somethings — who generally aren't up at the crack of dawn.

"What we found is, they're not the customer that shows up at 6 a.m. for breakfast," Niccol said. "We can get those guys on board, they become the evangelists, and then we can start adding additional hours for people that want breakfast at 6 a.m. or 7 a.m."

The new breakfast menu and hours come a year after Taco Bell faced a short-lived lawsuit claiming that its seasoned beef filling did not have enough beef to be billed as such. Taco Bell denounced the claim as false and spent millions in advertising to defend its taco filling and shore up its image.

The suit was dropped about three months after it was filed by an Alabama-based law firm, but Taco Bell still has struggled to regain momentum after the bad publicity.

Revenue at Taco Bell restaurants in the U.S. open at least a year — an indicator of a restaurant's health — have fallen in each quarter since the suit was filed. Taco Bell, which is a subsidiary of Louisville, Ky.-based Yum Brands Inc., accounts for about 60 percent of U.S. profit for Yum.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.