Pizza for breakfast is a long-standing tradition — cold pizza, often eaten as a hangover cure by people who vaguely remember having ordered it the night before.
But now piping hot pizza, often topped with eggs but no tomato sauce, is getting significant traction in the breakfast daypart.
A year ago, Technomic’s MenuMonitor didn’t track any pizza on breakfast menus. At the end of 2010, it found 12 of them. (EARLIER: The 10 fastest-growing breakfast items)
Among them is Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream Parlor, a 60-unit chain based in Bettendorf, Iowa, that now offers breakfast pizza in 24 of its restaurants.
“We deliver it to a lot of businesses in the morning,” said Kristel Whitty-Ersan, the chain’s marketing director.
Happy Joe’s calls it an omelet pizza. It has eggs, cheese and customers’ choice of vegetables, but no tomato sauce.
The chain also has some pre-built pizzas, such as a Western, a Denver, an all-meat and a vegetarian. It sells them for around $21 per pie, which is in the same range as their specialty pizzas.
“It’s a little bit of a challenge getting your guests to think of you for breakfast,” Whitty-Ersan said. “It definitely takes time and money. But it’s a lot of fun to add a daypart.”
Although Technomic just noticed Happy Joe’s breakfast pizza, the chain has been rolling it out one store at a time for several years.
The nation’s only 24-hour Domino’s Pizza, in Dayton, Ohio, launched a line of breakfast pizzas last year, in time for the fall semester at the nearby University of Dayton. The sauce-free pizzas with cheese and scrambled eggs can be ordered for $7.99 with ham and bacon; sausage, onions and jalapeños; onion, green peppers and mushrooms; or the customers’ choice of three toppings, including anything available on regular pizzas.
“It’s doing very well,” assistant manager Steve Martin said of the pizza. “The word’s getting out there and we’re getting a lot of customers coming back and ordering more.”
He said the ham and bacon is the most popular pizza, followed by the build-your-own option.
Leona’s Neighborhood Restaurants, a 14-unit chain based in Chicago, with restaurants in Indiana and Illinois, has a dozen individual-sized breakfast pizzas available for $9.95 each.
They include the Wise Guy, with Italian sausage, pepperoni, eggs, roasted red peppers, provolone, potatoes and marinara sauce; the Popeye, with mushrooms, sautéed spinach, eggs, smoked bacon, Alfredo sauce, potatoes and blue cheese; and the Queen Mary, which has fresh mozzarella, eggs, sliced tomatoes and chopped basil all on an olive oil base.
Independent restaurants also are seeing success with breakfast pizzas. Donatella in New York City offers a Hangover Pizza at brunch that's topped with sausage, lardo, smoked mozzarella, pecorino cheese, basil and a sunny-side-up egg.
Pulino’s Bar & Pizzeria, also in New York, has an entire section of the breakfast menu devoted to pizza, with options ranging from sausage, bacon and eggs to Nutella to roasted fruit with cinnamon and pecorino cheese. Prices range from $7 to $16.
Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected].