Tim's China Mug - © Tim Horton's Restaurants

Horton’s Adds Pizza Menu – To Compete In The Afternoon

Tim Horton’s says it has a lock on mornings. It’s day-starter menu is pretty much perfect. So… It’s turning its attention to afternoons and evenings. And, as if the obvious wasn’t obvious to them before, it is now. Horton’s is launching a pizza menu…

Tim's Pizzas - © 2024 - Tim Horton's

A natural…

It’s a natural, for any breakfast place that wants to expand its turf. Pizza is, after all, the top fast food choice in North America year after year in official polls.

“With single-digit market share for a player of our size, that’s really not tapping into the potential in the afternoon,” says Tims’ Chief Marketing Officer Hope Bagozzi.

It’s really a matter of tapping unexploited potential. There’s a mammoth opportunity to serve more customers in what are usually slack afternoons and evenings.

A cautious start

It behooves a breakfast and coffee joint like Tim’s to start up modestly when trying something completely different. Thus, the chain has rolled out a modest starter menu of four flatbread pizzas earlier this week: Cheese, Pepperoni, ‘Bacon everything’ and Chicken Parmesan. But not before a lengthy development program and cross-country test-marketing.

But Tim’s isn’t taking chances with its recipes. Insiders report that employees and execs at Tim’s head office have been tasting potential menu contenders for months. And after thousands of trials, the decision makers settled on a ‘first four’ slate.

And last summer, the chain tested its new creations in a limited trial, in Mississauga, produced what the company called a ‘viral’ response. Tim’s Pizzas have since been tested in Calgary, Windsor, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Toronto, and Quebec, as well.

What you get

“Each Flatbread Pizza is prepared fresh to order and made with amazing ingredients – including slow-cooked seasoned chicken, a blend of Monterey Jack and mozzarella cheese, Parmesan flakes, and marinara sauce for our Chicken Parmesan Flatbread Pizza,” the original news release enthused.

The flatbread crusts are plump and soft, and rectangular in shape. I suspect the crusts arrive frozen and are finish-baked in the ovens Tim’s already has in every store. But that’s not a bad thing. According to the news release, the pies are dressed with fresh ingredients and baked at the time you order them.

It appears, from the photos, that Tim’s cuts the pies into a grid of 6 square servings. One thing I can’t divine from the pictures is how big the pizzas are. I’m always suspicious when Fast Food joints don’t put something in a promo pic for size comparison. But maybe that’s just my natural, questioning, journalistic nature…

A calculated evolution

Tim’s started, almost 60 years ago, as a Toronto-region chain of coffee and doughnut shops. It soon went viral  (thouigh the trm was unknown back then) because it’s namesake and ‘face’, Tim Horton, was at the time a star defenseman with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs.

When the chain first experimented with enlarging its appeal, it added eggs and associated menu items for breakfast. Then it added sandwiches for lunch. And now, it’s introducing pizza to fill its afternoon and evening day part ‘white spaces’.

Like the other national coffee-and-doughnut brands – such as its main competitors, Dunkin’s and Krispy Kreme – Tim’s has consistently tried to appeal to more potential customers at more times of day. And the chain’s cautious approach to menu development and testing has paid off.

My take

I predict that the new Horton’s Pizza Menu will take off as the testing programs demonstrated. That not only speaks well for the pies themselves, but for the whole marketing concept.

Bravo, Tim’s! You haven’t made a false step yet. May your luck hold…

~ Maggie J.