Bringing home the bacon

Southwest restaurants hope to stem tough times and satisfy a growing demand by adding breakfast to the menu

Over the past few months, Southwest restaurants have been making big changes to boost business. Many sought liquor licenses to supplement losses from a sour economy, and now, another tactic has emerged: bacon and eggs.

Restaurants that have recently begun offering breakfast include Pasqual's, Caf Twenty-eight, Herkimer Pub and Brewery, Rudolph's Bar-B-Que and Golooney's East Cost Pizza Caf and Sub Shop. Although many owners said they added morning meals because they had to boost sales, others said they turned to breakfast because they've been missing out on a large and growing clientele.

Why breakfast?

Robin Bernabo, owner of Golooney's, 2329 Hennepin Ave., said his decision to add breakfast was purely revenue-driven. "I don't want to get up at 5 in the morning, but sales are so bad," he said.

Bernabo, who is also applying for a beer and wine license to boost sales, said the restaurant business has been slow for some time. "So many places are starting to go under," he said.

Golooney's breakfasts started this month. Bernabo said his "East Coast" breakfast menu includes coffee, eggs and bacon, and egg and cheese sandwiches.

Linda Haug, owner of Linden Hill's Caf Twenty-eight, 2724 W. 43rd St., said that since her patio closed for the season, she's noticed a slump in her Sunday business. Haug said although Linden Hills already had a popular breakfast spot, the Zumbro Cafe, she was up to the competition.

So in late January, Haug added a Sunday brunch to her menu, which highlights eggs, crepes, pancakes and quiche. "There was always a wait (at Zumbro); there's enough breakfast business for two," Haug said.

Yasser Ebrahim, the new owner of Pasqual's, 2528 Hennepin Ave., said he, too, could not turn a blind eye to the bustling breakfast market. "On Lyndale, it's a Mecca for breakfast," he said, "but there's always a long wait for the popular breakfast joints."

Since he took over the business in January, Ebrahim said he's been developing unique fruit sauces and syrups for breakfast.

"The breakfast trend has been growing a lot lately, over the last five years," he said. "It's catching faster than people think -- it's a romantic and family gathering."

Ebrahim, who is originally from Egypt, said in other countries, breakfast at restaurants is really big. "Instead of serving breakfast in bed, people go outside," he said.

Charlie Theros, manager of Rudolph's Bar-B-Que, 1933 Lyndale Ave. S., said he will add breakfast beginning Saturday, March 8, because of customer demand.

He said Rudolph's had served a buffet-style Sunday brunch for more than 20 years, but people didn't want to eat that much. With brunch numbers slipping, Rudolph's brain trust thought a simple breakfast would better fit their clientele. One interesting feature that the restaurant will offer is a build-your-own Bloody Mary and Screwdriver bar.

Chad Jamrozy, co-owner of The Herkimer Pub and Brewery, 2922 Lyndale Ave. S., started serving breakfast six months ago to pump up his day business. He said he added the menu not because business was hurting, but because the market was clearly there.

Herkimer's breakfast menu includes egg and omelet dishes, although it's being revised. Jamrozy said he thinks for the breakfast crowd his restaurant has an advantage to others. "We serve booze here, Bloody Marys and Screwdrivers," he said.

Does the breakfast crowd ring registers?

Jamrozy said adding breakfast to the menu has boosted business 10 percent in the last six months. He said the first few months serving breakfast was a test to see if enough people would come.

At first, the breakfast business was slow, but Jamrozy said it improved with a new weekend promotion that offered a free bar glass and chaser glass with a Bloody Mary or Screwdriver for $6.

Rudolph's Theros said he has no idea of breakfast-driven revenue, but said it isn't as expensive to produce as his brunches were. "Even if the breakfast falls flat, it will be more profitable," he said.

Caf Twenty-Eight's Haug said consumer response to breakfast has been very positive. "It's been amazing," she said, "We've probably tripled our Sunday business."

Haug said she could expect about 15 people on a normal Sunday, but since the brunch started, she gets 60 customers that day. Because her caf has 36 seats, she said the breakfast-goers tend to come in shifts.

Ebrahim said the breakfast crowd was slow to come at first, but admits he has relied solely on word-of-mouth. "The first day we opened for breakfast, we had two tables," he said.

Since then, Ebrahim painted the new breakfast hours on the store windows and said that business has picked up. He hopes it will continue to improve. "I would love to see $1,500 to $2,000 (revenue) for a breakfast brunch," he said, which is considered good for any meal rush.

New Breakfast Hours

Pasqual's , 2528 Hennepin Ave., breakfast hours are Saturday and Sunday,7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Golooney's East Coast Pizza Caf and Sub Shop, 2329 Hennepin Ave., breakfast hours have yet to be determined.

Cafe Twenty-eight, 2724 W. 43rd St., breakfast hours are Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Herkimer Pub and Brewery, 2922 Lyndale Ave. S., breakfast is served Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Rudolph's Bar-B-Que, 1933 Lyndale Ave. S., breakfast hours are Saturday 11a.m.-2 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m.-2 p.m.