Some restaurants particularly fast food ones offer breakfast food only during, well, breakfast hours. Other restaurants however offer breakfast food throughout their opening hours. Some restaurants are specifically breakfast only so of course they do.

What's up with that? What would make a restaurant offer some food only sometime while others (besides breakfast restaurants) offer said food throughout opening hours?

I was thinking that this might have something to do with low demand or something, but then why do all-day breakfast restaurants, like, not go out of business?

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    $\begingroup$ Because it is profitable. $\endgroup$ – 123 May 22 '16 at 3:33
  • $\begingroup$ @123 so why doesn't McDonald's offer all-day? Why profitable for others but not for McDonald's? $\endgroup$ – BCLC May 22 '16 at 4:32
  • $\begingroup$ I think they do that now. $\endgroup$ – 123 May 22 '16 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ mcdonalds.com/us/en/food/meal_bundles/alldaybreakfast.html $\endgroup$ – 123 May 22 '16 at 17:20
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    $\begingroup$ And the reasons it might be profitable for one company and not another are myriad. Logistics, infrastructure, customer base, etc. However, every business decision is necessarily driven by the profit motive. EDIT: I am also assuming you're trolling a bit with this question, having now looked at other questions you've posted. $\endgroup$ – 123 May 22 '16 at 17:22

This question makes a hidden assumption: that all diners are on the same circadian rhythm. A significant portion of the US population works nights, spans time zones, etc. For example, truckers.

That's one answer, that addresses the market. There's also the question of inventory logistics for the restaurant. Most eateries have to do extensive prep for a meal shift, and that includes thawing proteins, advance-cooking certain items, chopping, etc.

Imagining an ideal world for the restaurant, they would prep exactly as much food, in various menu-item-proportion, as was ordered in a meal shift, and end up with none left over. Meal prep left over would represent wasted inputs, and very often it is not able (or allowed) to be kept for the next meal shift.

Menu prep is "expensive" whether you end up selling one meal or a dozen.

Also, often "lunch cooks" have a different set of training/skill sets than "dinner cooks" than "breakfast cooks."

  • $\begingroup$ Ah I see.... I think. and this prep is more expensive for fast food than for non-fast food? $\endgroup$ – BCLC May 22 '16 at 17:45
  • $\begingroup$ One idea (having done some cooking myself) is that breakfast is a "messy" meal, with a lot of grilling. It is also hard to make a huge batch of breakfast, when people want eggs cooked to order. But you can make a pan of lasagna for lunch and start a side of beef for dinner. Less work and mess and more bulk cooking. If a kitchen runs breakfast all day, that is a lot of cooktop space and individual prep to do. A few restaurants can make a go of it, but not all of them need to. Some restaurants do only lunch, or only dinner. Cafes do coffee and sweets all the time. $\endgroup$ – user7706 May 22 '16 at 22:58
  • $\begingroup$ This makes sense, but the reluctance of a chain like McDonald's to do all day breakfast still seems a bit odd. It seems like their menu is stacked with the kind of foods that (i) don't need any on site pre-preparation, (ii) don't need highly specialised preparation skills, and (iii) is sold in sufficient volumes to make the issue of inventory management less acute. $\endgroup$ – Ubiquitous May 23 '16 at 8:45

Interesting! My guess is that:

A) Fast food places are in the business of solving the masses nutricional needs (low margins!), while other restaurants are more in the business of selling a special experience that you could do without (high margins!): Article mentioning lower margin breakfast foods.

B) Because of the above, people will go to a fast food place if it solves a need, like having breakfast, but you won't pay much more than you would for cereal at home, so breakfast has to be dirt cheap at this places. And it does seem to be the cheapest meal on the menu in terms of protein/dollar.

C) Now going back home for lunch is usually a pain, so they are able to extract a higher rent from you there, so they sell you fries and bread with some meat instead of a large meal of eggs and sausage. They make a larger margin on lunch items, so they have to shut the breakfast ones down. You are on a budget, so you'll go there again because its cheap, even if you are unhappy with them. If I was on a tight budget I would get the breakfast any time of the day if it were available.

D) Other places will sell you a breakfast any part of the day because they want you to be happy and come back, they make a big margin on anything they sell. Moreover, you'd be mad if they didn't have what you wanted, and you don't really need them. Plus who's gonna order eggs for lunch with their boss or with their boyfriend/girlfriend anyway? So even if the margins were lower, few people buy these items...

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks Fix.B. so in short your answer to my question is 'if it's not a fast food restaurant' ? $\endgroup$ – BCLC May 26 '16 at 10:47
  • $\begingroup$ I think that's one of the things that's going on: fast food /low margins vs. regula/high margin restaurants. $\endgroup$ – Fix.B. May 26 '16 at 14:18

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