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McDonald's cut dozens of items due to the pandemic – now a few are returning

A slimmed-down menu helped fast-food workers fill drive-thru orders quickly, even with limited staffing.
McDonald's Same Store Sales Up 7.1 Percent In January
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/ Source: CNBC

McDonald’s is planning to keep salads, bagels and yogurt parfaits off its menus for the foreseeable future after the coronavirus pandemic led the company to shrink its offerings.

The fast-food chain told U.S. franchisees that it plans to add back seven itemsthroughout July, but dozens more will remain off of the menu. Returning items include vanilla cones, chocolate chip cookies, two variations of the Quarter Pounder and the Bacon McDouble. Some of the removed items, like salads, could return down the road.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the chain’s Wednesday webcast with U.S. franchisees about the menu.

“Now, we’re reintroducing some of our iconic offerings while keeping our menu streamlined – focusing on expert preparation, great service, and as always, quality ingredients,” McDonald’s USA said in a statement. “With customers at the center of everything we do, we’ll continue listening to them and evolving our menu to meet their needs.”

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McDonald’s transitioned to a slimmed-down menu in April to fill drive-thru orders quickly and provide better service, even if its kitchens were short staffed. It cut items that were more complex or didn’t sell as well and limited breakfast to only morning hours. About a year ago, the chain had phased out some items, like its line of premium burgers, in a bid to speed up its service times.

As the company reopens dining rooms, it’s looking to offer customers more variety. McDonald’s analyzed more than a hundred items across its menu to decide what changes to make. About 7% of its U.S. restaurants have resumed indoor dining operations, as of Monday.

Franchisees have pushed for a shorter menu. The National Owners Association, an independent advocacy group for McDonald’s U.S. franchisees, said in early June that keeping menus simplified was its top priority. The Journal reported that the group, which represents about 80% of franchisees, voted last week to drop all-day breakfast permanently.

“The reality is we still have more work to do to further analyze what makes sense,” McDonald’s U.S. CMO Morgan Flatley told franchisees on the webcast, referring to all-day breakfast. “Any final decision will drive business while minimizing operation disruptions.”

On Tuesday, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski told investors at the virtual Evercore ISI conference that the company will add items back but it is “unlikely” that McDonald’s will return to its pre-COVID-19 menu.

The changes to McDonald’s menu will also include its new crispy chicken sandwich, which it tested in December and January, and new baked goods for breakfast.

This story originally appeared on CNBC.