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Wendy’s Breakfast is Getting Cold

Breakfast goes on the back burner for now.

Bottom line, Wendy’s hasn’t found a way to make breakfast profitable. Speaking at this week’s ICR Xchange Investor Conference, The Wendy’s Co. CEO Emil Brolick breezed through his A Cut Above/Recipe to Win presentation, stopping just long enough to essentially say, “Oh, and breakfast? Maybe in 2016.”

He pointed to a $14.6 million charge the company has taken for scrapping breakfast equipment at what he carefully explained are “underperforming breakfast restaurants. Not underperforming restaurants; underperforming breakfast restaurants.” In other words, the concept is sound but the morning meal just isn’t working.

Brolick said Wendy’s still will have 375 to 400 locations serving breakfast and will continue to support them (at least for now). But expansion of the test is off the agenda. “Breakfast is not going to be a top priority in this next three-year period. Longer term we may well come back to that,” he said. What would it take to rekindle the desire to establish breakfast at Wendy’s? Brolick says it would require finding “a much more profitable way to approach that daypart opportunity.”

Two years ago, Wendy’s was touting research showing breakfast driving QSR traffic growth. There was no question that it had to have a breakfast daypart to succeed. But requiring more investment in equipment (especially after hitting up its operators for equipment needed to make Dave’s Hot ‘n Juicy Cheeseburgers) doesn’t make sense now. The numbers apparently aren’t working as expected. The envisioned ROI of $140,000 to $150,000 per store per year from breakfast appears to be elusive in a marketplace that stubbornly resists full recovery from the recession.

9 comments to Wendy’s Breakfast is Getting Cold

  • RichF

    Don’t understand buying the equipment and not doing the work to make it succeed. How do the other places make it work?

  • carl

    I haven’t even heard about breakfast. How did they think it would work if no one knows? I’m a chef and didn’t even hear about this? Guess osmosis is how they planned to spread the word..I think they just don’t have the guts

  • nate

    I have been going to my local Wendy’s for 3 months nearly every day for breakfast. Amazing fresh and much higher quality than MD or BK. They informed me that they will be discontinuing breakfast on March 3 sadly. It was good while it lasted.

  • sue martin

    If everyone had the same experience that I did, I’m not surprised that it wasn’t working. I really liked the fire roasted burrito, certainly a favorite. I rarely went thru a breakfast drive thru before Wendy’s started offering this and then was hitting the Wendy’s closest to my work 2 or 3 times a week. Even liked their oatmeal offering. But it was not unusual on at least one (if not 2) of those mornings that my order was wrong or I got the wrong change when I paid. I finally quit going….it wasn’t worth the hassle. Too bad because I liked the food.

  • BigEater48

    Breakfast means more than advertising, it means rebranding. I didn’t really see that.

  • Doug

    I was eating there 2-3 times per week. I thought it was one of the best breakfast offerings out there. I loved the Artisan Egg Sandwich. I too did have a couple mornings where things were not up to par, but that is a staff not following procedure problem not a breakfast problem. It’s hard going up against Dunkin Donuts especially here in New England. I think they should have stuck it out at least through the summer months with heavy promotion. It takes time to change pols habits.

  • cassie

    Didn’t even find out until today. Very disappointing because I loved their breakfast, my only problem is that they don’t open until 7am and I had to be at work at 7am. I think if they had changed their opening time they would have done better. Most of the other fast food breakfast chains are open at 5am and already have lines of commuters looking to grab something on the way to work.

  • Lori McDermott

    I thought so. I went every morning for weeks before work. It was awesome food. I couldn’t go for a while and I went and the breakfast menu wasn’t up. I went again today and same thing so I googled it. Sorry to see it go. However, if it IS ever brought back, my suggestion would be to make sure there is enough of everything to go around. More often than not, I had to sit and wait for something. Usually the potatoes, sometimes other items. I’m going to work, I need to get in and out. I was usually the only one is line which made it more frustrating.

  • Carol Phillips, MSW

    I loved the bacon mcmuffin. It was good. The lady in the drive thru window had long wild hair though and there was a hair in my bacon mcmuffin. dont restaurant employees with long hair have to put it up in a bun?

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