By Chris Mah
Updated February 23, 2015
© Dennis Prescott

Craving pancakes for dinner? Or scrambled eggs with toast instead of pasta or chicken? Your love of breakfast for dinner has become the fascination of the National Restaurant Association, which recently conducted a survey revealing that 70 percent of Americans want restaurants to serve breakfast all day. Demand is at an all-time high, particularly among millennials. But while restaurants like Sonic have been dishing out its French Toast Sticks at all hours of the day for years, other fast-food chains including McDonalds, Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. have been slower to meet demand, citing operational challenges.

As it turns out, flipping pancakes and eggs is very different from grilling burgers. Because breakfast and lunch items require different kinds of space, equipment and assembly, fast-food chains are often forced to choose between giving customers what they want and being able to turn around orders in seconds. Carl’s Jr., for example, charbroils its burgers rather than using a flat grill, so extending breakfast hours would require staffing and other operational adjustments in order to accommodate running two cooking platforms simultaneously.

Despite the logistical challenges fast-food restaurants face, with demand for breakfast all day this high, someone is likely to fill the gap. Industry experts have considered possible strategies such as building breakfast menus with similar equipment and assembly needs as lunch menus or differentiating menu offerings based on quality rather than speed. Whatever the solution may be, it needs to happen quickly. That overwhelming craving for a runny egg sandwich isn’t going away anytime soon.