After the restaurant industry was hit hard by coronavirus lockdowns, chains are now reducing their menu selections to stay in business. CNN reports that eating and drinking place sales were $94 billion below expected levels from March to May.
As locations shift from curbside pickup and delivery to dining-in, they are faced with multiple problems. Restaurant operators are tasked with enforcing social distancing to protect staff and diners while adjusting to new dining trends. Along with cutting down menus, they are reducing dining room capacities as well.
Shrinking menus also allow businesses to order ingredients in bulk as they maximize off popular items, and reduce the waste associated with less popular items. Here are some of the most popular spots and what’s being taken away.
Denny’s is slimming down its menu, eliminating items like the Sizzlin’ Supreme Skillet, Spicy Sriracha Burger, and Choconana Pancakes. The changes are expected to last through fall.
For the time being, Denny’s customers haven’t complained about the change.
“Customers have been extremely understanding of the adjustments we’ve made,” Denny’s Chief Brand Officer John Dillon told CNN Business. “We’ve found our guests are appreciative of the focus we have been putting on safety, cleanliness, and sanitation that a slightly smaller menu enables.”
IHOP is replacing its 12-page menu with a 2-page menu. Brad Haley, IHOP’s chief marketing officer, told CNN Business that simple, popular items were favored over complicated, less ordered items.
The smaller menu will make it easier (and faster) to train new hires as more locations return to full operation. In a note to customers, IHOP announced a shift to one-time-use paper menus to reduce cross-contamination. They also announced that syrups and condiments would be provided in single-use containers. The company doesn’t expect for the 12-page menu to ever return.
Dave & Buster’s
Likewise, Dave & Buster’s CEO Brian Jenkins is expecting their move to go from a 40-item menu to a 15-item menu to be a permanent one. The cut was made to aid a smaller kitchen staff and maintain inventory.
Jenkins told CNN Business that “the 15 items we selected generate a significant portion of our food revenue.”
Dave & Buster is also reducing seating capacity to 50% in dining and bar areas, FSR Magazine reports. Its arcade areas were altered to maintain social distancing by making some games unavailable to guests.
“We plan to promote our stores as venues where fans can enjoy a unique fan experience and a safe fun environment with great access to food and beverage and other great forms of gaming and entertainment,” Jenkins said.
Fast-food chain McDonald’s introduced a limited menu back in April. The move was to help “simplify operations for our restaurant crew while also improving our customer’s experience,” according to a statement sent to CNN Business.
The menu reductions included bagels, salads, yogurt parfaits and all-day breakfast availability. However, some of the items are expected to come back this summer.
It’s also not the first time McDonald’s cut menu items to speed up service. Last year, McDonald’s shrunk their late-night menu and stopped offering craft burgers.