Reporter's Notebook
Jack in the Box seeks boost from brunch

Jack in the Box seeks boost from brunch

This post is part of the Reporter's Notebook blog.

In the battle for breakfast, is brunch the answer?

Jack in the Box thinks so. This week, the San Diego-based quick-service chain announced the debut of “Brunchfast” as a new menu platform.

On Monday, restaurants across the 2,200-unit chain will begin offering premium brunch items, like a fried-chicken breakfast sandwich topped with bacon, cheese and a fried egg; and a Brunch Burger, a beef patty on a croissant topped with bacon, cheese and a fried egg.

There will also be a Southwest Scrambler Plate with home-style potatoes, bacon or sausage and a croissant; mini muffins and mini pancakes; and a a mimosa-like blood-orange fruit cooler. Bring your own booze.

Iwona Alter, Jack in the Box vice president of product marketing and innovation, said the platform’s product lineup will represent “the wonderful collision of breakfast and lunch” with flavors that will evoke a leisurely weekend brunch.

Except Jack in the Box’s brunch items will be available all day, every day. So it’s not so much about daypart but about offering something not seen before in the quick-service world, like breakfast sandwiches built around burgers, and fried chicken with an egg on top.

It also bridges the price gap between breakfast and lunch.

Alter said Jack in the Box breakfast items tend to fall in the $1.99 to $3.29 range, and lunch between $4.59 and $5.

Brunch fits neatly in between, with a recommended price range of $3.89 to $4.50, she said. And the sandwiches can be built with ingredients already in house.

With the morning daypart growing and McDonald’s limited all-day-breakfast encroaching on Jack in the Box’s breakfast-whenever dominance, it’s clear the space will become even more competitive.

Perhaps even more than offering something new and different among quick-service players, Jack in the Box is positioning itself to compete directly with the growing number of fast-casual chicken-and-egg sandwich concepts that seem to be spreading like wildfire and redefining the category.

Many are growing on the West Coast, like Crack Shack out of San Diego, Starbird and Organic Coup in Northern California, and the Chicken or the Egg in Los Angeles.

Taco Bell is also planning to tap fried-chicken fever with the rollout next year of a Naked Chicken Chalupa — a taco with a shell made of thin, fried chicken. No doubt a breakfast version filled with bacon and eggs will not be far behind.

Jack in the Box plans to support the Brunchfast launch with TV ads that begin a new storyline for the faithful cueball-headed Jack mascot.

The debut commercial reveals big news: Jack and his longtime wife Cricket are expecting a child. It is Cricket’s craving for brunch at 8 p.m. on a Tuesday night that prompts Jack to introduce brunch.

Company officials will not say whether Jack’s story will continue to its obvious conclusion, or whether the world will be introduced to a Jack Jr. or a Jackie.

Women everywhere will no doubt be very curious about the size of the child’s head.

Jack in the Box has offered breakfast all day since 1991, and the chain has had great success with its Late Night Munchie Meals, also available all day.

The brunch platform, meanwhile, gives Jack in the Box an opportunity for new news without being pulled into the discounting game among rival brands, which is only expected to intensify as the year progresses.

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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