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McDonald's, Taco Bell Firing New Shots in Breakfast Battle

OAK BROOK, Ill. and IRVINE, Calif. -- McDonald's Corp. is gearing up for a breakfast battle in anticipation of Taco Bell Corp.'s new morning menu, which will launch nationally March 27. While McDonald's hasn't announced any immediate changes in response, the quick-service restaurant  (QSR) giant is considering expanding its breakfast menu hours, according to a report by The Associated Press.

"We know, as an example, that breakfast on the weekend cut off at 10:30 [a.m.] doesn't go very well," Jeff Stratton, head of McDonald's USA, told the AP. However, another McDonald's representative added that there are no tests currently in place for extended breakfast hours.

Menu tests and changes are considered sensitive issues for McDonald's because they require the support of its franchisees, who operate about 90 percent of the company's more than 14,000 restaurants across the United States, the news outlet reported.

In June, McDonald's began serving a limited combination of breakfast and dinner items between midnight and 4 a.m. as part of its "After Midnight" menu intended to appeal to Millennials who like to eat what they want at any time of day.

McDonald's response may depend on how well the new Taco Bell Breakfast, with unique options such as the Waffle Taco and the A.M. Crunchwrap, is received.

As CSNews Online previously reported, the Waffle Taco is a warm waffle wrapped around a sausage patty or bacon, with fluffy scrambled eggs and cheese, and served with a side of sweet syrup. The A.M. Crunchwrap is an "all-in-one breakfast solution" offering a morning twist on Taco Bell's Crunchwrap featuring classic breakfast tastes of fluffy scrambled eggs, a golden crispy hash brown, melted cheese, and a choice of bacon, sausage patty or premium thick-cut steak, wrapped in a flour tortilla.

Taco Bell Breakfast will also include the Breakfast Burrito in bacon and sausage, steak, and egg varieties; the A.M Grilled Taco in bacon and sausage varieties; the Sausage Flatbread Melt; hash brown; premium hot coffee; and Tropicana orange juice. The menu will be offered from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., or earlier.

"Breakfast is the fastest-growing daypart in QSR and after years of the same old thing, we're confident our breakfast will wake up customers' mourning routine," said Taco Bell Chief Marketing Officer Chris Brandt.

The Taco Bell Breakfast menu will not require any new equipment for operators, added President Brian Niccol.

"Taco Bell Breakfast will be one of the brand's priority initiatives of the year, along with a vigorous development plan to increase accessibility of restaurants and a mobile platform that puts the Taco Bell menu board and payment in customers' hands," said Niccol. "These key initiative will continue momentum for the brand's strong and growing relevance with Millennials, while working toward the aggressive goal to double revenue and add 2,000 restaurants by 2022."

Taco Bell. Corp. is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands Inc. Its more than 350 franchise organizations have nearly 6,000 restaurants across the U.S.

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