As Eating Patterns Shift, Does Breakfast Still Have Traction?


Americans love breakfast. A recent survey indicated that 62% of Americans chose breakfast as their favorite meal of the day. That sounds like an opportunity. Kirk Ruoff, Founder and CEO of Turning Points Restaurant, thinks so as he embarks on turning his award-winning restaurant into a franchise concept. He spoke with The Main Course about his 24-year journey and why now is the right time to spread good breakfast cheer to others.

When Ruoff purchased Turning Points, it was a failing lunch and dinner establishment. It didn’t take him long to realize the dinner crowd wasn’t cutting it, and he switched to breakfast and lunch. Within three-to-six months, Ruoff had a hit on his hands.

Ruoff said he finds today’s diners are shifting their eating behaviors. They aren’t always having three big meals a day, and they’re choosing breakfast as their big-meal day starter. Often, a hearty breakfast will take folks straight through till dinner. “This concept of having brunch, this meal between breakfast and lunch, is gaining a lot of traction,” Ruoff said.

Even the concept of breakfast is changing. Over the past couple of years, Ruoff’s restaurant began offering vegan choices and other menu items that people might not expect during the traditional bacon, eggs, and pancake hours. It’s about keeping things new and exciting and giving diners a chance to try something they might not be able to make at home easily.

It’s a competitive market, and for any restaurant owner & operator, it’s critical to look for ways, both large and small, to differentiate. Ruoff employs a beverage manager to explore new beverage options, source quality beans for their coffee, and create a fun assortment of drinks for the kids. Creating an experience around breakfast gives a customer a reason to seek out a particular restaurant, and Ruoff now wants to expand his brand beyond the New Jersey region. Turning Points Restaurant currently has 21 locations serving three states (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.) Ruoff envisions expansion along the eastern seaboard with franchising the preferred method.

“Looking at our industry, and how restaurant managers and people who run restaurants are treated on a day-in, day-out basis, they typically clock anywhere from 65-80 hours a week,” Ruoff said. “They’re working almost every night. They’re missing valuable with their families.” A breakfast/lunch franchise offers these people an opportunity to succeed while achieving a healthy work/life balance.

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