Taco Bell breakfast joins other top fast-food chains

Taco Bell begins offering breakfast (photo: Jeramey Jannene via Flickr)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Taco Bell, the fast-food chain that caters to late-night snacking, is making a play for the breakfast crowd.

The Mexican-style restaurant chain introduced a breakfast menu Thursday at almost 800 restaurants, mostly in nearly a dozen Western states. The rollout adds to the scramble among fast-food heavyweights competing for the morning allegiance of on-the-go consumers.

The chain hopes its breakfast burritos will be displayed on store menu boards nationwide along with its regular line of tacos, chalupas and gorditas by the start of 2014, said Taco Bell Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer Brian Niccol.

"This is a very important launch for our brand," Niccol said.

The chain's breakfast staples include burritos stuffed with eggs and either sausage, bacon or steak; sausage and egg wraps; hash browns; hot or iced coffee; and orange juice. Taco Bell is teaming with such recognizable brands as Johnsonville, Cinnabon, Tropicana and Seattle's Best. Menu items range from 99 cents to $2.79.

Taco Bell is a subsidiary of Louisville, Ky.-based Yum Brands Inc., whose chains also include KFC and Pizza Hut. California-based Taco Bell says it serves more than 36.8 million customers a week in nearly 5,600 U.S. restaurants.

The rollout is taking place in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado, and there are a limited number of participating stores in Texas, Ohio and Oklahoma.

Taco Bell tested its breakfast offerings in Bakersfield, Calif.; Oklahoma City; Tucson, Ariz.; and Dayton, Ohio.

Taco Bell's foray into breakfast comes as restaurants are in stiff competition.

Subway started offering breakfast in 2010, Wendy's is in the midst of trying to follow suit and McDonald's is expanding its menu.

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