The coronavirus pandemic has left many restaurants across the country in a precarious situation. Even big chains have lost business in the last few months and now, as much of the country starts to reopen, these restaurants are finding new ways to cut back — from shuttering locations to streamlining their menus.
IHOP is the latest franchised restaurant chain to be implementing big changes. This week, the chain revealed its new, slimmed-down menu, which is just two pages. Previously, IHOP's massive laminated menu was a whopping 12 pages.
The new menu isn't just physically smaller, but it's also disposable so multiple customers and servers won't be handling the same surface all day.
“IHOP went from a 12-page, reusable menu to a two-page, single-use menu to increase the safety of our guests and restaurant team members, to simplify operations for new and returning team members, and to help ensure that we can maintain a stable supply chain for all of the ingredients we use,” Brad Haley, IHOP's chief marketing officer, told TODAY in an email. Previously, the chain had also replaced syrup bottles and other condiments with single-serve containers.
Haley reiterated that most of the chain's most "popular menu items," like omelets, burgers and pancakes, aren't getting the axe.
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While a lot of menu items, like the chain's Simple and Fit omelet, no longer appear on the two-page menu, it's still possible to customize other dishes to create a similar meal.
Still, fans of the pancake chain are already lamenting the loss of some their favorite items.
As for what is sticking around, Haley reiterated that it's actually quite a lot.
“We didn't lose any big menu categories, we just trimmed across the board,” he said. “We held on to popular items that weren't as difficult to prepare and lost complicated items that fewer guests ordered, and that could be replaced with something similar."
For a completely touch-less experience, IHOP has also started utilizing QR codes, which allow guests to scan them using their smartphones for immediate access to the menu.
Switching to a limited menu has helped other chains adapt their businesses during the pandemic. In late March, McDonald's eliminated several items, including desserts and all-day breakfast, in an attempt to make service easier for over-extended crew members.
While IHOP is removing items from the menu, there are still some new additions coming down the pipeline.
The chain launched its first new syrup in over 30 years: a sweet and spicy condiment it's calling Maple Sweet & Spicy Syrup. It has also rolled out a Crème Brulee Pancake Combo and a Green Chili Omelette.