IHOP Is Becoming Itself Again

The breakfast restaurant is finally reconnecting with its roots.

After a number of menu revamps and identity shifts in recent years, IHOP, the casual sit-down restaurant known for pancakes and all things breakfast, has finally seen the light. The chain has announced that after listening to customer feedback it's launching the biggest menu evolution of its 65-year history.

The biggest headline from this announcement is that IHOP has decided to bring back breakfast staples like crepes, eggs Benedict, and, of course, some very sweet stacks of pancakes (more on that in a minute). This renewed focus on the fundamentals comes after IHOP tried its hand at burger dominance in 2018, spun off a Chipotle-style pancake bowl concept in 2019, minimized its menu as a result of the pandemic in 2020, and added alcohol to the menu in 2021, all while continuing to roll out over-the-top promotional tie-ins. Whew.

"This is the largest innovation we've done and is part of the journey we've been on that has been guided by years of insights gained from guest research," said Kieran Donahue, Chief Marketing Office at IHOP, to Nation's Restaurant News.

During the pandemic, IHOP's menu focused more on portable items such as burritos, bowls, and wraps in order to accommodate pickup and delivery orders. This also meant a 30% reduction of its overall menu, reports Nation's Restaurant News. The new menu will go nationwide on April 3 and will restore about half of the old menu.

The classic breakfast offerings headed back to the menu include:

  • Eggs Benedicts: This includes a classic ham, veggie, spicy poblano, and bourbon bacon jam option.
  • Sweet & Savory Crepes: These crepes will come in flavors such as Cinnamon Bun, Fresh Berry, and Chicken Pesto.
  • Cinn-A-Stack Pancakes: This stack of pancakes features cinnamon roll filling and cream cheese icing. IHOP notes it's not only a fan favorite, but one of its "best-selling recipes, and most frequently requested menu item to bring back."
  • Donahue told NRN that limited-time offers will still be part of the brand's repertoire and are still important for the business, but going forward IHOP will be putting more emphasis on its core items, as those are what guests order most. In the press release, Donahue says the latest menu rollout was "driven by our guests and their continually evolving feedback and needs."

    Although the refocus on traditional breakfast offerings is evident in the brand's new menu, IHOP is also adding some non-breakfast items to beef up the overall lineup. The newest all-day additions to IHOP's menu include:

    • Ultimate Steakburgers: Two new Steakburgers are coming to the menu, the bourbon bacon jam and the four-cheese crisp. The latter comes with sharp cheddar, Swiss, fontal, and gruyere.
    • Fish and Shrimp: This is a platter of fried fish and shrimp with French fries, tartar sauce, and lemon.
    • Salads: The two new salads will be Fresh Berry Salad and Chopped Chicken Salad.
    • Even with these additions, IHOP's menu will still be 15% smaller than it was prior to the pandemic. But maybe that's a good thing. An overcrowded menu of excess options amounts to a lot more inventory to keep track of, and it tends to lead many quick-service restaurants astray from their core identity.

      Just look at Red Robin, which recently began learning from its own identity crisis. After straying away from its signature gourmet burgers, the fast-casual chain is hoping to improve the overall quality of both its menu items and its restaurants. IHOP, like others before it, seems to be learning that flashy new offerings are fun and exciting, but when it comes to brand identity and customer loyalty, remembering one's roots is what will keep 'em coming back.

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