While some restaurant chains are expanding, others are quietly contracting. The National Restaurant Association found that sales between March and May were $94 billion—yes, with a b—below expected levels. There’s been a lot of adjusting and pivoting, but big chains don’t necessarily have the sort of flexibility that smaller places do. Closing locations and laying off workers are not optimal solutions, nor is skimping on protective equipment and other safety measures. Customers won’t stand for raising prices. A better short-term plan is to take items off the menu. We’ve already told you about how McDonald’s has stopped serving all-day breakfast and salads. Other chains like IHOP, Denny’s, and Dave & Buster’s are doing the same.
IHOP, for instance, has replaced its 12-page dine-in menu with a two-page disposable version. “We didn’t lose any big menu categories, we just trimmed across the board,” chief marketing officer Brad Haley told CNN. The first things to go were items that were less popular and more complicated to prepare, which reduces waste for franchise owners.
If customers have been complaining, those complaints haven’t trickled up to company spokespeople. As long as Denny’s is still serving the Grand Slam Breakfast, who cares about the Sizzlin’ Supreme Skillet, Choconana Pancakes, Spicy Sriracha Burger, Fit Slam, or Slow-Cooked Pot Roast?
Mark Salebra, chair of the McDonald’s National Franchisee Leadership Alliance, claimed in a statement provided by McDonald’s that customer satisfaction has increased “significantly” since the fast food chain reduced its menu.
And so restaurants learned an important lesson: you can’t be everything to everybody, so you might as well stick to what you can do well.