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Tasti D-Lite to debut breakfast

Tasti D-Lite is the latest quick-serve player to enter the fast-growing breakfast daypart, the frozen dessert chain with a cult following told Nation’s Restaurant News exclusively on Tuesday.

At 50 units, the Franklin, Tenn.-based snack chain, known primarily for its lower-calorie frozen dessert treats, has begun to roll out offerings like parfaits, fresh-baked goods and hot granola, as well as a line of hot beverages, including coffee, tea and hot chocolate.

Bill Zinke, the chain’s chief marketing officer, said the breakfast items currently are in test at 20 percent of the system’s locations and are expected to be available systemwide this fall.

“We knew at some point we wanted to do [breakfast], we knew there were opportunities to expand into more dayparts,” he said. “We see this as one way of bringing significant enough incremental revenue streams [to our franchisees] over the long term.”

“We also think that the brand can expand easier and more naturally at breakfast,” Zinke said. “Yes, we can get into more products that are treats and snacks and meal replacements for lunch and dinner, but some of that could be cannibalistic [with what we already do].”

The new breakfast items are in test at stores in the Houston, New York, New Jersey and Florida markets. They are priced between $1.99 and $2.29 for the hot granola, $3.99 and $4.44 for the parfait, $1.50 and $2 for the baked goods and $1.50 and $1.85 for the hot beverages.

“We realize we’re not going to be a runaway success at breakfast with people who think of Tasti D-Lite as an afternoon treat, snack or meal replacement,” Zinke said. “We understand it’s going to be more of a challenge, but we’ve seen pretty good response. Our goal right now is to keep driving trial and awareness.”

Tasti D-Lite will join the likes of Subway, Quiznos, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s and Burger King as yet another chain gearing up to take a part of the expanding morning market.

In the past 12 months through February of this year, restaurants served more than 12 billion morning meals, market research firm NPD Group found. In addition, breakfast visits accounted for 60 percent of the growth in the restaurant industry over the last five years, presenting a significant, long-term opportunity for operators.

In-Depth: Subscribers of Nation’s Restaurant News can get a full serving of breakfast data in the “Breakfast is Served” report.

At Tasti D-Lite, presenting franchisees with a variety of revenue stream opportunities and increasing usage throughout the day served as the impetus for expanding the chain’s product lines, Zinke said.

“We are looking at being able to help increase revenue at all current and future locations by having line extensions that will bring in more traffic and increase usage and brand loyalty,” he said.

In addition to breakfast, Zinke said Tasti D-Lite last month extended its smoothie line to include traditional flavors like strawberry-banana, pineapple-mango, mixed berry and peanut butter-banana, along with the super-fruit offerings it currently sells. The 16-ounce version is 244 calories and has 3 grams of fat and 36 grams of sugar.

Tasti D-Lite also began offering frozen coffee beverages this summer. The Java D-Lite and Mocha D-Lite drinks average 20-percent less calories, one-third less sugar, 92-percent less fat and 50 percent more protein than traditional blended beverages contain.

Contact Elissa Elan at [email protected]

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