Why Breakfast at Wendy's Will Work
Several holes in their business plan are filled, thoughtfully
Living in flyover country, upon entering the typical gathering of fast food restaurants that I typically refer to as 'junk food oases' (oases: that's the plural of an oasis, right?) I am often less than enthused. McDonald's seems to be on a quest to match up every meat, egg & bread combination in the most unhealthy way imaginable. The Burger King croissandwich was once novel and intriguing, but not only are they now bite sized, but chewy is not a proper texture for a croissant. Hardee's was once the King of Biscuits but now they're denser than hockey pucks, and their coffee can strip paint down to the bare metal. Everyone else: Arby's; Wendy's; Culver's; Dairy Queen; don't open until lunch. So I end up with the Taco Bell Breakfast Experiment Du Jour, and drive like hell the rest of the way to work so I can proceed with whatever dignity I have left to the office washroom.
Today, we have a better option, for Wendy's is now open for breakfast, and for good reason the other chains have noticed.
Breadwise, the biscuits don't really impress me but the croissant-bun appears both innovative and manageable
Unlike all the other recent 'innovations' in the fast-food industry such as the meatless burgers and the donut buns, Wendy's has built a game plan and spent the money to add the machinery in their kitchens to make this work. They've taken months to ramp up staff and roll out tests to work out prep issues.
They've also leveraged some of their existing products, such as the Baconator in the new Breakfast Baconator sandwich, and the Frosty in their Frosty-ccino. A breakfast sandwich begins with the bread, and my rule of thumb has always been 'the more types of bread you have, the greater the chance one or more of them will be stale'. Nothing is baked in house, of course, so it is encouraging to me that Wendy's has brought out only two new bread types to support breakfast.
Sausage, Bacon, Egg & Swiss Croissant; Sausage, Egg & Cheese Burrito, Medium coffee, 3 creams, 1 sugar
As you see above, I had a croissant, and although it looked unimpressive, it was easy to handle, and it was flaky on top. The bacon and sausage were delicious, and even though I am not a fried egg lover, under a pile of meat it doesn't cause a problem. I also had a budget item burrito as a side, which was ok, and the coffee was drinkable, which is a vast improvement from what they offered before. Coffee is crucial to the masses; they won't go out of their way for exceptional coffee, but they will avoid battery acid swill, which is what Wendy's used to have.
I don't have high hopes for the biscuit, and honestly am a bit disappointed they even feel it is necessary, because their third bread option is.....a hamburger bun! Someone finally realized it was OK to use a bun for breakfast. Everyone knows how to handle a bun, you know it'll be fresh because they experience turnover all day. Some might say the bun represents a half-assed effort but I disagree. It takes courage to resist the temptation to bring in new things for the sake of 'new' when what you have will work just as well, if not better.
On the left is the Breakfast Baconator, which requires a 14 hour fast beforehand. Then an iced coffee I want to try next, along with a chicken-n-diabetes biscuit
I typically write about the excesses of the American food industry, and the Wendy's breakfast is certainly no exception. The Baconator is more food than even a lumberjack needs, and everything else is a display of more is more. But it is an American adage that nobody ever got ahead by offering less, which I acknowledge if not exactly accept. They do not plan to offer it all day, which is not good news for stoners. And in the South with Bojangles, Chik-fil-A and others with strong biscuit history, Wendy's will have their ass handed to them.
But on this first morning of the Wendy's Breakfast Era, I predict they will be successful. Not just because my meal today was pretty good, but because of the planning, restraint, and leveraging their successes that Wendy's management has shown.
All they really need now is to bring back Morgan Smith Goodwin in their commercials. Yes, I was the one person who liked her ads.