Restaurants menus have gone on a diet as dining areas reopen after the months-long coronavirus lockdowns, and it may be a while before the slimmed-down versions go away.
Denny’s, for example, wiped away options that included its Sizzlin’ Supreme Skillet, Choconana Pancakes, Spicy Sriracha Burger, Fit Slam and Slow-Cooked Pot Roast through at least this fall, according to CNN.
“When we realized the effects of the pandemic we quickly mobilized to create a new streamlined menu,” John Dillon, Denny’s chief brand officer, told CNN.
Denny’s, he said, is focusing on items that would “simplify operations and [are] easier to execute for our team members.”
IHOP’s menu went from 12 pages to two.
The change “required a lot of reductions,” Brad Haley, IHOP’s chief marketing officer, told CNN.
Being simple and being popular were the two key things that kept items on the menu, he said.
“We didn’t lose any big menu categories, we just trimmed across the board,” Haley said.
The smaller menu makes training easier and reduces waste.
“I don’t see us going back to the full 12-page menu,” Haley said.
At Dave & Buster’s, a menu of 40 items went to 15.
“I do not expect that we will go back to the 40-item menu,” CEO Brian Jenkins said on a recent analyst call.
“Restaurants keep adding items to their menus because it seems like such an obvious way to add revenue,” Sara Senatore, senior research analyst at Bernstein Research, told The Washington Post. “But at some point it becomes apparent that it’s not costless to add items.”
Recently, McDonald’s president Joe Erlinger told reporters the limited menu has been successful and that some version of a simplified menu may be around a while longer, according to BGR.
“A limited menu served a purpose for a period of time,” McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski said last week, “but we have to be also attentive to what the customers are looking for when they come to a McDonald’s and I think it’s going to vary market by market.”
“Whether it goes all the way back to where we were pre-COVID, I think that’s probably unlikely,” Kempczinski added. “But I think it’s equally unlikely that we’re going to stay with the current menu.”
Three dessert options (including the vanilla ice cream cone), two Quarter Pounder options and the Bacon McDouble sandwich are on the short list of items coming back some time during July.
More menu growth is likely as time goes on, according to Peter Saleh, managing director and senior restaurant analyst at BTIG.
“Remember a month ago and six weeks ago, they weren’t competing with some of these even fast-casual places whose dining rooms weren’t open,” he told The Post. “Now the competition is coming back online.”
“The competitive environment is going to get more tense. The only way to defend your share is to create more menu innovation and that means new products.”
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