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DUBLIN, Ohio -- In its latest effort to grab a share of the fast-growing morning daypart, Wendy's launched a new breakfast menu in three test markets and part of a fourth, QSRmagazine.com reported.
The nation's No. 3 burger chain said it is gauging customer sentiment for a quartet of distinctive breakfast sandwiches, a new coffee blend, a value menu and a handful of side items.
"We're very excited by the test results so far," Wendy's/Arby's Group chief financial officer Stephen Hare told investors during a recent conference‚ adding that more test markets will be added this quarter with the hope of a national rollout by the end of 2011.
The trial run began more than a month ago in Kansas City, Phoenix and Pittsburgh, all of which continued to serve breakfast after Wendy's backed away last year from its last bid to build a national morning daypart. Ten hometown Columbus restaurants also are in the test.
Wendy's new breakfast menu is version 3.0, following a casual-style breakfast offering in the mid-1980s and a "me-too" effort from 2006 to 2009, according to industry watchers.
Only 2 percent of Wendy's sales are from breakfast, the report stated.
This time, the company plans to break through in breakfast by delivering products consistent with its "real," high-quality brand positioning. That means "fresh-cracked eggs, fresh-cooked bacon in the store," and a new coffee program, Hare explained.
The chain's new Artisan Egg Sandwich features a cracked egg, asiago cheese, hollandaise sauce, and Applewood bacon on a square honey-wheat artisan muffin. The Fire Roasted Burrito is grilled and has eggs, roasted peppers, poblano chiles, and Applewood bacon stuffed into a multigrain tortilla with a signature hot sauce. Both are priced at $1.99.
The Morning Melt Panini, which is $2.99, includes an egg omelet, cheddar and asiago cheeses, and bacon or sausage between slices of sourdough bread. The Fresh Baked Biscuit is a Southern-style biscuit with an egg omelet and melted American cheese for $2.29.
Side items can be purchased separately or for $1 as an add-on to the sandwiches. These include a Good To Go Bar that is similar to an oatmeal-and-fruit cookie, home-style potatoes, sliced fruit, and small coffee, soft drink, iced tea, or orange juice, according to the report.
The menu is akin to "Panera light," said Tom Forte, director and senior research analyst for Telsey Advisory Group, a New York–based independent equity research firm. "Most of its competitors are focused on value, but Wendy's is going to more high-quality," he said. However, Wendy's new breakfast menu also offers items for value consumers, ranging from 99 cents for a Sausage and Egg Biscuit, to $1.99 for the Sausage and Gravy Biscuit. The Classic Breakfast Platter offers eggs, a biscuit, and bacon or sausage for $3.99.
Hare said data developed from the test will help create an operational plan to be presented for approval in advance of "a national launch, hopefully by the end of next year."