The pandemic forced many restaurants to alter their menus and streamline offerings, either to support sagging sales or for efficiency reasons (Taco Bell comes to mind). Applebee’s was among them. But despite the fact that the chain is now recovering, the powers that be have decided to keep the menu smaller, permanently. CNN reports which items didn’t quite make the cut.
Going into the pandemic, the Applebee’s menu sat at around 160 items. Going forward, it’s going to be roughly 100. Anything that was complicated to prepare and also sold poorly was axed: barbecue brisket tacos, clam chowder, brunch burger, triple bacon burger, sweet and savory grilled chicken, and loaded potato soup. Sorry, Applebee’s clam chowder aficionados! I know there’s at least one of you out there feeling glum.
At first, the removal of some of these more complicated items during the pandemic was a survival decision; after having to furlough employees and pivot to takeout, Applebee’s lost approximately 22% of sales in locations open at least one year in 2020. But the company liked what it saw.
“We’re going to keep [the menu] lean,” Applebee’s president John Cywinski told CNN Business. With the smaller menu, he hadded, “The food comes out faster, [it] comes out tasting great, very consistent,” and the change “makes the restaurant more efficient.”
That doesn’t mean old offerings might not make appearances now and then. The chicken wonton tacos and riblets were brought back for a limited time, and other items are in the works. But for everything that’s added, other items will have to be axed.
“The team will have to be very thoughtful about every single product or beverage they introduce, and the consequence of it from a complexity standpoint,” said Cywinski. “We’re going to make those trade-offs.”