Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

Breakfast Restaurants are Rising in Popularity

Bracha Arnold
September 29, 2022
Breakfast Restaurants are Rising in Popularity

Few things are as iconic as the American diner, serving up plates of pancakes and eggs. Over the past few decades, this dining concept has evolved from local stand-alone establishments to regional and national chains. Inflation and other macro headwinds have put pressure on restaurant visitation trends the past several months, but full-service breakfast chains have outperformed the industry.

We catch up with several breakfast and brunch restaurant leaders and take a look at how they are positioning themselves as an affordable luxury and leveraging their knowledge of their customer base to succeed. 

First Watch & Waffle House 

When we last checked in with First Watch, the company had recently gone public and was in the middle of a robust expansion process. With 449 locations across the country as of 2022, the brand has positioned itself well in the crowded breakfast restaurant space, competing with industry heavyweights such as Waffle House

Waffle House, boasting 1,965 locations and open 24/7, has significant brand recognition and cultural cache. This familiarity, and the restaurant’s cult status in many states, may be one of the drivers of its consistent year-over-three-year (Yo3Y) visit growth. Visits to the chain were elevated 17.5% and 8.4% Yo3Y in July and August 2022, respectively, while visits per venue were up 17.7% and 8.6% Yo3Y. The unrelenting success of this chain proves that brand awareness and playing to a loyal customer base pays off. 

First Watch saw its Yo3Y visits up 19.7% in August 2022. The company is expanding rapidly, and has been opening around 30 locations a year since 2019 with the hopes of eventually reaching 2,200 locations countrywide. The brand is establishing itself as a force to be reckoned with in the breakfast and brunch space.

Visits-per-venue to First Watch were down – June saw 5.8% fewer visits, while August saw 7.2% fewer visits per venue. But the brand’s ability to maintain elevated visits and only minor dips in its visits-per-venue in a very difficult environment for restaurants is an encouraging sign for its ambitious growth plans. 

Smaller Regional Chains

The breakfast restaurant scene in the country is well represented by smaller, regional chains as well. Biscuitville, established in North Carolina in 1966, boasts 65 locations across North Carolina and Virginia, with expansion plans under way. Another Broken Egg Cafe, which offers an elevated Southern-style breakfast, has 80 locations across 20 states and another 20 locations planned. And Broken Yolk Cafe, a California favorite, has 34 locations and 10 more slated to open. 

These three chains saw elevated Yo3Y foot traffic every month analyzed, and matched that elevated traffic with impressive visits-per-venue growth. May through August 2022 showed higher visits and visits-per-venue than 2019, possibly driven by the understanding the companies have toward their target audience. These chains all emerged from specific regions and have remained fairly concentrated within those areas, allowing them to learn who their audience is, what they like, and how to deliver it to them. By tapping into regional food tastes, they can position themselves for continued success. 

Breakfast has long been said to be the most important meal of the day, and these chains are proving that customers agree. By providing a low-cost option for dining out, and by understanding what their target audience loves about their brand, these chains can continue to see increased success. 

For more data-driven insights, visit

Get 3 brand & industry
breakdowns every week

Subscribe to the newsletter

Great! Prepare your inbox for data-driven insights...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get a Demo

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please provide a valid email
Please enter your email
Please enter company name

Thanks for reaching out!

One of our experts will be in touch soon

Try Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Text Link
Waffle House
Text Link
First Watch
Text Link
Breakfast Restaurants
Strong Start for Sprouts in 2024
Crocs’ Footwear Fairytale
Who Attends NCAA Final Four Events?
Eclipse Fever: How Did the (Retail and Hospitality) Stars Align?
Exploring Albertsons Companies’ Grocery Growth Mall Index: March 2024 Recap – Malls Rise Again Office Index: March 2024 Recap
Florida Spring Break Break-Up? Travelers Still Love Florida!
Provo-Orem and Ogden-Clearfield Emerging As Utah Hotspots 
Three Formulas for Experiential Retail in 2024
Aldi & Lidl Making The Cut
Texas Suburbs on the Rise
Exploring Luxury Hotel Brands’ Guest Segmentation
The St. Patrick’s Day Effect
How Can JOANN Make a Comeback?
Panera Bread Well Positioned for Possible IPO
Who Will Benefit From Family Dollar’s Downsizing?
Dave & Buster’s and Main Event Entertainment: Food and Fun for Everyone
Darden Brands: Location Analytics and Consumer Behavior
Nike and lululemon: a Strong 2023, Sprinting into 2024
Where Is Retail and Dining Foot Traffic Thriving in Early 2024? White Paper Recap – February 2024
Three Retail & Dining Chains That May Surprise in 2024
Specialty Discount Chains Rock Retail Therapy Mall Index: February 2024 Office Index: February 2024 Recap
Ulta Beauty Continues To Shine
First Watch Sails Into 2024
Hibbett Sports and DICK’S Sporting Goods: A Psychographic Analysis
Checking in With Discount & Dollar Stores
Peeking Behind The Curtain: Movie Theaters in 2023 and Beyond
Diving Into Brick-and-Mortar Eyewear
Getting Into Gear: Exploring The Auto Part Industry
Recapping Valentine’s Day 2024 Foot Traffic Trends
Fitness: A Strong Start to 2024
Dutch Bros. Continues To Percolate Visits
Super Bowl 2024:’s Postgame Foot Traffic Analysis
CAVA & sweetgreen Are On the Rise
Hats Off For Off-Price
Who Is Shopping at Malls?
Drilling Down Into Home Improvement
Walmart, Target, Costco & Superstore Space 2023 Recap
Catching Up With Shake Shack and Wingstop
Something To Chew On: Demographic Shifts at Steakhouse Chains Office Index: Looking Back at 2023
Recapping RBI & Yum! Brands’ 2023 Foot Traffic Performance White Paper Recap – January 2024
Who Shops at Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters?
Three Taco Chains to Watch in 2024
Starbucks and Dunkin’: 2023 in Four Data Points
Who Visits CVS and Walgreens?
Fashionably Frugal: Apparel in 2023
Catching Up With Fast Food
The Grocery Sector in 2023: An End-of-Year Recap
3 Mall & Shopping Center Trends for 2024
Bakery Chains Rising To The Top and Esri Partner to Deliver Geospatial Analytics
Tampa Tourism Trends
Going For The Green: The Changing Dynamics Of Country Clubs
Christmas Day Dining Recap
Major Urban Shopping Districts – Holiday Season Recap Office Index: December 2023 Recap
Recapping the 2023 Holiday Shopping Season White Paper Recap – December 2023
7 Retail & Dining Segments to Watch in 2024
Diving Into Holiday Season Favorites
Super Saturday and Christmas Eve Eve: A Winning Combination
3 Budget Grocery Chains Finishing 2023 On a High Note
Making It In America: International Chicken Chains Bring The Heat
Domestic Tourism at a Glance: A Q3 2023 Roundup
Five Pizza Chains On The Rise
Jewelry Brands Taking Advantage of the DTC Opportunity
Secondhand News: Kids' Thrift Shops
Recapping 2023’s Dining M&As
MetLife Stadium Kicks Off Football Season Office Index: November 2023 Recap
Small Coffee Chains Brewing Big Success White Paper Recap – November 2023
Thanksgiving Travel 2023 Recap
Checking in With Nike and Lululemon
Black Friday 2023 Retail Recap
Starbucks’ 2023 Holiday Menu & Red Cup Day Performance
Turkey Wednesday 2023
Who Attended the 2023 Pickleball Championship? 
Three Surprising Holiday Shopping Trends
What’s in Store for Ulta Beauty This Holiday Season?
Best Buy and Department Stores: A Holiday Deep Dive
Discount & Dollar Stores: Strength Toward The End of the Year
The State of Off-Price Retail: Discounts Seal The Deal
Placer Mall Index Recap: October 2023 Office Index: October 2023 Recap
Retail Corridors Ahead of the 2023 Holiday Season
California, Here Gap Comes
Checking in With Home Improvement
Getting Into the Glasses Game: Warby Parker Takes Over
Fitness Positioned for a Strong 2023 Finish
White Paper Recap: October 2023
Coffee Giants Brewing Up Business
Popeyes and Burger King Lead the Way
Diving into Yum!