IHOP Just Drastically Downsized Its Menu. Here's Why

International House of Pancakes is about to become Local Cottage of Pancakes (and not a whole lot else). No, they're not changing their name again, they've learned that much from the "International House of Burgers" debacle, at least, since that IHOB stunt wound up costing them a few customers. What they are doing, however, is something that might not be welcomed too warmly by true IHOP aficionados, but may ultimately improve the restaurant's profit margin: Fox News reports that IHOP will be reducing their 12-page menu to one that is just two pages in size.

Despite all those commercials where just about every business out there is falling all over itself to assure customers that they truly do love and care for us and have nothing but our best interests at heart, we all know darn well that the real love and concern is reserved for shareholders alone. So, this move may be good news if you're heavily invested in IHOP, but not so great if you were a fan of any of the numerous menu items they're now no longer serving.

IHOP's reason behind its menu change

IHOP wasn't the only restaurant chain hard-hit by the pandemic — in fact, just about all restaurants in the U.S. (if not the world) have had to make some pretty drastic (and expensive) changes in the way they operate, if they are even able to remain in business at all. Not only did mandated closures result in IHOP's having to close a number of its locations for good, but safety precautions meant for some big changes at those of its restaurants that have reopened to the public. One of the first changes was the pancake chain's removal of syrup bottles from the tables, replacing these with single-serve syrup containers delivered by the server.

Another change, also meant to eliminate "high-touch" items, involves replacing the large reusable laminated menus with disposable ones, a move that necessitated shrinking the menu offerings in order to fit. Shorter menus weren't the only reason for IHOP's decision to limit their offerings, though. As Brad Haley, IHOP's chief marketing officer, stated (via Fox News): "IHOP went from a 12-page, reusable menu to a 2-page, single-use menu to increase the safety of our guests and restaurant team members, to simplify operations for new and returning team members, and to help ensure that we can maintain a stable supply chain for all of the ingredients we use."

How IHOP stands to benefit from this menu change

Still, the smaller menu will undoubtedly benefit the restaurant as well, as was the case when McDonald's decided to downsize its own menu. This resulted in faster service, so at least there's that — you'll get your food faster, and your check faster, and since IHOP isn't exactly known for its ambiance, faster is always better. As Inc. speculated at the time McDonald's made their big move, though, reducing the number of menu offerings would also allow the chain to quietly weed out its less-profitable items, which was the case with the All-Day Breakfast that Mickey D's dropped from its menu in March and will possibly never bring back.

While IHOP isn't exactly publicizing this reason, the fact remains that a smaller menu can mean not only less trouble for employees, but less food waste, and thus is likely to benefit the restaurant's bottom line, at least as long as customers aren't too disappointed by the missing menu items. As Fox 4 explains, a slimmed-down menu is a cost-cutting option that will allow IHOP to push its more money-making items at a time when cash flow is somewhat crimped.

IHOP's new secret menu?

While IHOP's new disposable menus are a whole lot smaller than their predecessors used to be, it's possible that some IHOPS may still have some of the ingredients on hand that were used to make those now-disappeared offerings. What that could mean, at least for the time being, is that there are certain items that you might possibly be able to request "off-menu," at least if your local IHOP's staff aren't over-worked and over-tired (so pick your moment, no special orders when the restaurant's crowded, and you'd better plan on leaving a generous tip).

Another option involves using IHOP's "Create Your Own" menu options to rebuild old favorites. Fox 4 gives, as an example, the Simple and Fit omelette. While this dish made from egg whites and spinach is no longer available to order from IHOP's new menus, you can still engineer one by using the "Create Your Own Omelette" feature. Still, be aware that not all locations will offer all options, so be sure to check your local IHOP's online menu before you go so you can figure out any alternate orders (and/or cope with your disappointment) in advance.