When it comes to breakfast service, speed and volume are key. Apart from the customers’ initial caffeine fix, what else are they looking for? By Sarah Thomas
Happy customers mean happy proprietors, and managing the business of breakfast can reap great reviews—and great revenues—if it’s done right.
On the Facebook page of Beau’s, a beachside cafe in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast town of Caloundra, a customer recently gushed about “the love” that was put into the presentation of their breakfast.
Angie Everingham took over Beau’s with partner Mark Smitheram in March last year. Despite both being novices in hospitality (Everingham had a background in HR and operations; Smitheram in construction), they had a clear idea from the start about their approach with Beau’s.
“We’ve always tried to have a focus on doing things that are fresh and new, and doing them well and really making them look amazing,” Everingham says. “Our chefs have come from a fine-dining background, so it gives them a little bit more of a care-factor and love for how the food looks when it goes out.”
Head chef Adam Gaudion and commis chef Cameron Walter have overseen a transformation of Beau’s menu, such as bringing in its best-selling interpretation of eggs benedict, tagged Benny and the Eggs.
Customers can choose the mushroom, salmon fillet or triple-smoked maple pork belly options and all come stacked with kale, avocado, poached eggs and house-made hollandaise sauce. It has that ‘wow’ factor and the all-important photogenic Insta-appeal that’s a win-win. And at $18.50 to $19.50, Everingham says, “It’s really quite a fairly big portion and people are often surprised about how much food they get for the cost of it.”
The desire for delivering quality without blowing out costs is a fine balance. Everingham says a lot of time and thought has gone into the cafe’s all-day breakfast menu (it also does limited lunch options and a Friday and Saturday night dinner service), to ensure cost and time efficiency.
“Both of our chefs have come from a fine-dining background, so it gives them a little bit more of a care-factor and love for how the food looks when it goes out.”—Angie Everingham, co-owner, Beau’s
“The menu that Adam created has quite a bit of skill in terms of maximising the amount of dishes but minimising the amount of ingredients,” she says. “So there are numerous things used across dishes, which means it cuts down on prep and gives you the ability to buy more of a certain item, which might make it a little cheaper.”
Beau’s aims to use locally sourced goods and has changed its suppliers in coffee, chai tea and meat for closer options. Everingham says she has been surprised at the high level of interest customers have in where their breakfast comes from.
Similarly, award-winning restaurant Fred Eatery, in Aldgate Village in the Adelaide Hills, strives to go local, such as with its coffee, bread, meat and eggs. It can be more expensive an outlay, says co-owner Aaron Bond, but it’s worth it.
“Quality generally costs a bit more and we’re prepared to wear that but we also build it into our pricing,” he says. “We’re not the cheapest in town but we offer great value and once people have the meal, they understand the value.”
Bond and co-owner Todd Langley took over the business in November 2015. Again, they had a firm vision from day one about what they wanted to achieve. “We were aiming to create a fairly informal space and offer quality-driven comfort food,” says Bond. “We didn’t want a fine-dining type restaurant; we wanted something in between a cafe and restaurant, which we feel we’ve successfully achieved.”
Across its impressively inventive menu are dishes such as its Indian Eggs—spiced scrambled eggs with roti and roasted cumin ($23).
“We wanted a menu that we would like to enjoy ourselves and it to be a bit left-of-centre but still approachable,” he says. “So it was really just tweaking dishes to make them a bit more interesting.”
Darren O’Brien, the national account manager for Tip Top Foodservice, which works with 15,000 businesses, says in recent years he’s seen an increase in consumer breakfast spending. He suggests it’s because people are making breakfast more of an occasion than they used to, swapping it for dinner as a special event.
“Quality generally costs a bit more and we’re prepared to wear that but we also build it into our pricing.”—Aaron Bond, co-owner, Fred Eatery
“The reason that’s happening is because there’s all this adventurous food finding its way onto breakfast menus in cafes and restaurants, so it’s a more exciting occasion to go out,” says O’Brien.
When Bond and Langley took over, Fred offered all-day breakfast only, but they aimed to grow business by expanding out to lunch. To manage this, the breakfast menu is split across two sections: an early breakfast which runs 7.30am to 11.45am, and then an all-day breakfast which runs 7.30am to 3pm and includes several favourites but avoids elements such as poached or scrambled eggs to help the kitchen manage the workload when lunch kicks in.
The creativity of Fred’s dishes has garnered much buzz, but there is a careful weighing up of ambition against implementation. “It’s walking that fine line of being adventurous but doing what you can within resources,” says Bond. “We trial dishes on specials and some things are too tricky to perhaps maintain on the regular menu, but can be offered on a weekday when it’s not as busy.
“We try and make the menu as inventive as we can [but] still work, because we are a very busy environment, particularly on the weekends. We aim to have it from order to arriving at the table at a 20-minute maximum, so to do that the dishes need to be put together reasonably seamlessly.”
Breakfast service, missing the vital bill-boosting alcohol element, needs to concentrate on speed and volume, not least to get customers their initial caffeine fix. “They’re really keen to get that first coffee of the day, often before they can make a decision,” says Bond, who adds it might be prudent to put an extra barista on during busy periods.
Bond’s advice is “keep things simple but do it well. Make sure you’re surrounded by good staff and suppliers. If you look after them, they’re going to look after you.”
Everingham says it’s important to be open to suggestions but follow what suits you best.
“Listen to lots of people’s opinions and be open to lots of new ideas, and make an active decision about what works best for you,” she says. “You’ve got to be passionate about something first before you can expect other people to be passionate about it.”