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IHOP-Scary-Face-Pancake-Choice-Menu.jpg IHOP
IHOP is expanding its Choice menu and moving up the seasonal debut of Scary Face Pancakes.

IHOP expands customization with Choice menu

CMO Kieran Donahue says option is available across all dayparts and via app-website

IHOP is expanding its Choice menu of pancakes, burgers and sandwiches across all dayparts and through its smartphone app and website.

The division of Glendale, Calif.-based Dine Brands Global Inc. said that starting Monday customers can build their breakfast, lunch or dinner all day. In addition, the brand is debuting two popular fall favorites — Pumpkin Spice Pancakes and Scary Face Halloween Pancakes — earlier in the season.

The Scary Face Pancake is a seven-inch buttermilk pancake with whipped topping eyes and smile. IHOP provides a side of Mini OREO cookies, glazed strawberries and candy corn for decorating the pancake.

Kieran Donahue, IHOP’s chief marketing officer, answered some questions from Nation’s Restaurant News about the new-menu rollout.

NRN: Given that your research indicates 80% of IHOP customers already customize orders online or in the restaurant, how do you differentiate the Choice menu?

Kieran Donahue: The IHOP Choice Menu is available across all dayparts, so we’re now making it easier for guests to order their perfect IHOP meal combinations both in-restaurant and through our updated mobile app and website.

Our guests love the option of choice, and we are allowing them to modify their meals based on their cravings, build their own plates or branch out and try something new. By making these customization options more obvious on our menu, we are showing guests there is always a new, fresh meal to create for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

NRN: Has the Choice menu been offered in some permutation before?

Donahue: This is the first time we’re running a full marketing campaign highlighting all the ways in which a guest can enjoy an IHOP meal, compared to focusing in on a few specific menu items. With the Choice menu, we are leaning into our mission to bring joy to our guests every day by offering them more options than ever with the tastes they love from IHOP.

NRN: Have Scary Face Pancakes and Pumpkin Spice Pancakes been offered before? What is the LTO time and suggested prices?

Donahue: Yes, IHOP has offered seasonally inspired Scary Face and Pumpkin Spice Pancakes for several years, and they continue to be guest favorites. That is why this year, we are rolling out both offerings sooner due to guest demand. They will be on the menu from Aug. 22 through Oct. 31. During the week before Halloween (Monday, Oct. 24, through Monday, Oct. 31) kids 12 and under can get a free Scary Face Pancake from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. with adult entrée purchase. Price and participation vary by location.

NRN: What have been the biggest changes in consumer preferences since dining rooms reopened from the pandemic?

Donahue: In 2022, we have more IHOP restaurants open, and now have 91% of restaurants at standard operating hours or greater. That's an increase of 140 more restaurants that are back to pre-pandemic hours of operations. Additionally, this was the fifth consecutive quarter of positive comp sales, as IHOP steadily recovers from the pandemic.

Our guests are at the center of everything we do, and we know that choice, variety, and made-to-order menu items are important elements of a joyful experience as they return to in-restaurant dining. Guests can mix and match their IHOP favorites to create their own perfect meal.

Additionally, with off-premises continuing to make up over 20% of our sales mix and becoming a large part of business since the pandemic, we made it even easier for guests to customize their off-premises orders with the launch of our new mobile app and website.

As part of IHOP’s Choice menu, the brand has teamed up with Microsoft’s Xbox to offer International Bank of Pancake loyalty members game offers, including an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate trial, and passes to an array of games including Forza, Grounded and Party Animals.

As of March 31, IHOP had 1,751 restaurants around the world. Parent Dine Brands also owns the Applebee's Neighborhood Grill + Bar casual-dining brand.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

TAGS: Menu Marketing
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