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Breakfast menus evolving at restaurants

Oatmeal and crêpes on the rise, while French toast and skillets decline

Healthful, handheld and upscale items are in at breakfast. Skillets and traditional dishes are out.

That’s what Los Angeles-based menu research firm Datassential found when reviewing breakfast offerings on more than 4,750 restaurant menus in its database.

Oatmeal was mentioned on nearly 14-percent more chain and independent restaurant breakfast menus in 2010 than it was in 2008. Skillet mentions fell by 10 percent. French toast, biscuits and gravy, and chicken fried steak all fell, too.

IN DEPTH: The April 4 issue of Nation’s Restaurant News examines the latest breakfast trends, including which groups are driving traffic in the morning. Subscribers can access the article “Mastering the morning” online. Subscribe today

Datassential’s list is in line with what The NPD Group in Port Washington, N.Y., says are the main motivating factors for people to eat breakfast: Consumers believe it’s good for you and will help jump-start your day, and also that it can help promote weight loss.

Convenience also is essential early in the mornings, said Bonnie Riggs, a restaurant analyst with NPD.

That’s illustrated by the popularity on menus of more portable breakfast fare. Burritos, for example, were mentioned on 9.5-percent more menus in 2010 versus 2008, Datassential found.

Oatmeal is now as mainstream as can be, having been launched nationwide in the United States by McDonald’s in January. The Oak Brook, Ill.-based quick-service chain — which has about 14,000 domestic locations — followed in the footsteps of coffeehouse chains Starbucks and Caribou Coffee, as well as Jamba Juice, all of which offer oatmeal.

Some studies have said can help lower cholesterol levels and promote weight loss.

Datassential’s chart also indicates the trend toward more upscale food can be seen at breakfast, with items such as crêpes, frittata, quiche, eggs Benedict and steak and eggs cropping up on more menus.

EARLIER: Restaurants flip for crêpes

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected].

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