Jack in the Box could soon be serving "Brunchfast"

Somewhere between breakfast and lunch lies "Brunchfast." At least that's the view of Jack in the Box (JACK), which recently trademarked the term.

The chain didn't respond to a request for comment about its plans for "Brunchfast," though an industry observer said it seems to make sense given that breakfast is the fastest-growing and most lucrative "daypart" for the quick-service or fast-food restaurant industry.

Moreover, Jack in the Box CEO Len Comma recently admitted to investors that McDonald's (MCD) recent successful introduction of all-day breakfast had hurt his company's business between 10:30 a.m. and noon even tough its morning operations were doing well overall.

"Jack in the Box could do something similarly limited between 10 a.m. and noon every day or just on weekends," according to BurgerBusiness.com. "Perhaps it will bring back the Waffle Breakfast Sandwich it offered in 2012."

Expanding its breakfast business, though, may be easier said than done.

Bob Goldin, vice chairman of restaurant consulting firm Technomic, noted that a variety of chains including Wendy's (WEN), Burger King (QSR) and Subway have found that building a business around the morning meal was harder than they anticipated.

"McDonald's owns that daypart," Goldin said. "They just have been extremely good at defending their turf."

Jack in the Box also isn't the first fast-food chain to consider a move into brunch. As BurgerBusiness noted, McDonald's trademarked the term "McBrunch" in 2014, though the chain has yet to use it. Burger King tested a menu it dubbed "Burger King Brunch" in 2010, which included at ciabatta breakfast sandwich and a nonalcoholic mimosa. That test didn't catch on.

San Diego-based Jack in the Box certainly is no stranger to the morning meal. The chain's president, Frances Allen, joined the company in 2014 from breakfast powerhouse Dennys (DENN).

Earlier this year, Jack in the Box, which also owns the Qdoba Mexican food chain, overhauled its menu, changing the recipes for 30 items and adding higher-end offerings to attract new customers. The company also is improving its customer service. However, these efforts haven't yet benefited Jack in the Box's bottom line.

In fact, same-store sales at the company's namesake restaurants fell 1 percent during the most recent quarter. Jack in the Box expects this key metric, which tracks sales at locations opened for at least a year, to gain 1 percent at most during the current fiscal year.

But Wall Street sees better times ahead, thanks in part to Jack in the Box's cost-controls and plans to sell off company-owned stores.

Shares of Jack in the Box have risen 11 percent this year, outperforming McDonald's, which are up about 3 percent, and Wendy's, which have fallen about 6 percent. Jack in the Box has vowed to be more competitive in all dayparts, including breakfast. The question now is: Would adding "brunchfast" to the menu bring more tasty returns to shareholders?

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    Jonathan Berr is an award-winning journalist and podcaster based in New Jersey whose main focus is on business and economic issues.