For a long time now brunch has been the preferred, if not somewhat revered weekend meal. The morning queue has become a common right of passage for the eager brunch-goers, waiting outside popular establishments for arguably the most fun meal of the week.
It’s Sunday, mid-morning. Having queued with your brood on the high street for a table big enough to accommodate you, your friends and their Bugaboos. Food menus promising eggs florentine with artisanal hollandaise and salted coconut waffles are passed around.
Once the preserve of twentysomethings more concerned with Instagramming their avocado-smeared sourdough than actually eating it, the bottomless brunch is now a national pastime. “Brunch is no longer just for people who wake up too late for breakfast on a Sunday,” says Mathieu Gastal of TopBrunch, “A huge number of those who love it are families.”
The bottomless brunch’s military-esque timeslots have done more than fill us up on Sunday mornings: they’re reshaping the way we socialise together. Having two hours set aside for a catch-up before the afternoon has hit – and, crucially, without the need to give up a precious weekend evening – means that we can enjoy ourselves.
Breakfast and lunch were first elided together in the 1895 essay Brunch: A Plea by Guy Beringer, who opined that “by eliminating the need to get up early on at the weekend, brunch would make life brighter”. But, as with many American imports, the late-breakfast-with-bells-on has since become an institution, fuelled as much by Hollywood’s depiction of leisurely weekend get-togethers. Brunch is now threatening to unseat the noble roast as the weekend’s main meal. Traditional breakfast and lunch menus are being replaced with the all day brunch across the UK and Ireland.
Trending food, evolved healthy, more adventuresome flavours and dishes that blur the breakfast fare lines are dominating menus. Also trending: all-day breakfast spots as well as traditional lunch/dinner operations that open early to capture breakfast or brunch sales. “We have more people for breakfast than lunch,” says Geoffrey Meeker, owner of French Truck Coffee, which has five cafés in New Orleans and Baton, Rouge, Louisiana, including a Memphis, Tennessee location, with five more on the way. Meeker says that 70% of his customers buy food. “Restaurateurs have figured out that margins are better for breakfast than dinner,” he says. “What’s an egg – even a good egg – cost?”
Some 29% of restaurants offer a separate breakfast or brunch menu, a 24% overall increase from a decade ago, according to Datassential, a food research firm. The growth is concentrated in sit-down restaurants with a 58% increase in casual restaurants and 31% jump in fine dining spots for the same period.
Breakfast, in fact, is the only daypart enjoying growth. The NPD Group says breakfast visits have increased, while lunch sales were flat and dinner decreased.
Millennials are more likely than any other generation to purchase breakfast, averaging two breakfasts per week, compared to 1.3 in the population at large. —Datassential 2018 report on millennials.
So pick up a few brunch ideas and add a few options to your menu. It is time to wake up to brunch.