Taco Bell enters breakfast arena

Customers take advantage of sunny skies and dine outside a Taco Bell restaurant Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2006, in Burbank, Calif. As Taco Bell struggles to rebound from an E. coli outbreak at its eateries in New York and New Jersey, industry experts say their style of preparation may have shielded the fast food giant from a more damaging outbreak. (AP Photo/Ric Francis)
AP Photo/Ric Francis

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

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

Survey: Coffee fix costs $1,000 a year

Taco Bell Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer Brian Niccol says if the launch goes as expected, the chain hopes it breakfast burritos will be on store menu boards nationwide by the start of 2014.

The chain's breakfast staples include burritos stuffed with eggs and either sausage, bacon or steak; hash browns; hot or iced coffee; and orange juice.

Breakfast is the fastest-growing business in fast food, according to NPD Group.