While some customers have been forgoing their usual coffee stop amid the pandemic, breakfast remains a strong daypart for c-stores.
In fact, Nashville, Tenn.-based Tri Star Energy Food Service and Dispensed Beverage Category Manager Lisa Lem said breakfast sales at Twice Daily stores have been largely unaffected, thanks in part to visits by essential workers.
“Our locations are seen as a one-stop for many essential workers who were still heading to work when others worked from home,” said Lem. “They’re able to fill up with gas then run inside for a coffee or breakfast item that will help them stay motivated during the day.”
Lem cited ongoing product development as key to keeping breakfast fresh for Twice Daily regulars, in addition to overall quality and customer service.
Twice Daily often rotates its breakfast and bakery options, but one of the most popular offers right now is its new Sausage, Egg & Cheese Pretzel Breakfast Sandwich. Seasonal items are also a hit, including the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin for fall, and the Red Velvet Cream Cheese Muffin for the winter season.
According to an American Egg Board omnibus study conducted by Datassential in July 2020, 53% of respondents indicated they wanted to see classic/favorite breakfast items on menus, while 29% prefer new and innovative items.
Joy Almekies, senior director of food services for Global Partners, which operates more than 300 company-owned c-stores, has been working to make sure every location is up to par, prioritizing quality ingredients, freshness and packaging that’s functional, keeps food secure and helps to show off the products.
Global Partners’ Alltown c-stores are expanding the bakery program, partnering with small, boutique suppliers and ensuring all items are pre-wrapped.
Breakfast is now offered all day as well. While in the past, employees would never say ‘no’ to a customer who wanted a breakfast item later in the day, it wasn’t something they advertised, Almekies said.
She noted, however, that there really aren’t a whole lot of breakfast items sold past the traditional morning daypart at Alltown stores.
“It’s the anomaly that comes in after noon and asks for a bacon, egg and cheese,” she said. “Most of our business for breakfast is pretty much wrapped up by 10 or 10:30 a.m.”
Meanwhile, customers had been asking Des Moines, Iowa-based Kum & Go, which operates 400 stores in 11 states, to offer its breakfast pizza all day, said Food Service Category Manager Natasha Ratzlaff. Ultimately, the decision was a win-win.
“The way people are eating breakfast and the times they’re eating breakfast are a little different now,” Ratzlaff said. “We felt that there was an opportunity to offer it all day and not have it where people weren’t getting their favorites, just because they maybe weren’t leaving the house until later in the day.”
To get the word out about the new availability, Kum & Go took to Twitter, posting a challenge for its followers, in which the number of retweets determined the discount price of the pizza on Halloween. Ultimately, the post received more than 1,500 retweets, resulting in a coupon for 10-cent pizza slices.
For now, the breakfast pizza is the only menu item sold outside of the morning daypart, but Ratzlaff said that its success may lead the chain to offer additional favorites all day.
Other top-selling breakfast items at Kum & Go include the Sausage Egg and Cheese Croissant and the Breakfast Burrito.
Can’t Forget Coffee
To further incentivize customers, Kum & Go is also offering an all-day coffee promotion.
“If you order a breakfast pizza, or if you get a breakfast sandwich, then you get a $1 coffee,” said Ratzlaff, adding that Kum & Go offers bean-to-cup coffee at the majority of its stores, “brewed fresh every time.”
Global Partners’ stores are transitioning to bean-to-cup coffee for what Almekies said is an “exploding” coffee business in order to ensure freshness, while also working to utilize single-origin sourced, fair-trade beans.
“We want to be fair to the farmers, and we want to be responsible with our coffee business,” Almekies said.
In addition to Twice Daily stores, Tri Star Energy owns 14 White Bison Coffee locations, two standalone and 12 integrated into Twice Daily c-stores.
White Bison’s menu features a range of specialty drinks, from pour-over coffee and nitro cold brew to fine hot teas, in addition to fresh pastries and breakfast and lunch items like sandwiches, salads and wraps.
“Both Twice Daily and White Bison customers are looking for a variety of choices from our coffee programs,” said Lem. “At Twice Daily, we have add-ons like creamers and sugar options that create 5,984 coffee combinations. At White Bison, our menu features tried-and-true coffee drinks like mochas and chai tea lattes.”
The White Bison team also gets creative with its coffee drinks, Lem said, like with ‘The Shaker,’ a recent customer favorite, featuring half and half, cane sugar and concentrated coffee, shaken until frothy.
White Bison’s seasonal, holiday beverages, which debuted Nov. 27, include Peppermint Mocha, White Christmas Mocha and Peppermint Matcha Frappe.
“We’ve found the mix of favorite drinks and White Bison’s original recipes provide the variety our customers look for,” Lem said.