The fast-food chain so popular for its late-night greasy goodness is staying up even later – into the morning. This proclamation comes from Taco Bell, the restaurant that invented FourthMeal, the arbitrary eating time between dinner and breakfast. On January 26, Taco Bell launched its equivalent on the opposite side of the day: FirstMeal. While its customers probably won’t be the same that also partake in FourthMeal, the full-circle menu is a smart way to capitalize on the burgeoning morning market. The Associated Press reports breakfast has accounted for nearly all of the restaurant industry’s growth over the past five years.
(SPECIAL REPORT: What’s In Your Taco?)
Incidentally, that’s how long Taco Bell has been planning their menu. And after their five-year test run, Taco Bell expanded their breakfast spread to 800 restaurants across 14 western U.S. states. But your stomach shouldn’t fear – they’re not trying to get us on a Gordita or Grilled Stuffed Burrito kick for the first meal of the day. Instead, Taco Bell will offer legacy breakfast brands to help lure in customers. They’re partnering with Johnsonville to offer a sausage and egg burrito and Cinnabon for fried dough balls with that irresistible cream filling. Wraps, hash browns, coffee and orange juice will also find their spot on the new menu alongside the CrunchWraps and Mountain Dew offerings. The breakfast spread at the typically late-night establishment highlights the need for restaurants to innovate. Starbucks is looking to attract a discerning evening crowd with booze, and Olive Garden looking to attract, well, anyone at all. The Italian chain is now offering a four-course meal.
Taco Bell’s primary rollout spans the entire Pacific and a majority of the Mountain time zones, in an effort to capitalize on the part of the country “where people grew up with breakfast burritos,” according to Brian Niccol, Taco Bell’s chief marketing and innovation officer. If the trial run is successful, all 5,600 Taco Bells nationwide could be open for breakfast by 2014, proving that the bustling breakfast market indeed has room for one more. But with all these numeric meals, hopefully our stomachs do, too.
LIST: Top 10 Worst Fast-Food Meals