Why Fast-Food Dollar Menus Could Be In Danger

Who doesn't love a good dollar menu? Whether you are on a road trip or just strapped for cash, there is something nice about knowing you can swing through a drive-through at most major chains and grab something – or mix and match a few different things – that will satisfy your hunger for about a dollar apiece. Senior vice president of communications at Wendy's International Denny Lynch told QSR Web that Wendy's ushered in the era of dollar deals in 1989 when it launched its "Value Menu," which became known to customers as the "99 Cent Menu." However, an option that has become a staple of so many fast food chains may soon be at risk of vanishing from menus.

The past two years have been an exceptionally rough time for the restaurant industry as a whole. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to huge labor shortages and supply chain problems across the world, while recent inflation has also contributed to the increased pricing on many items. This has forced many fast food chains to look for ways to save money, so value meals and dollar menus might find themselves on the chopping block, according to Food & Wine. The outlet has argued that, theoretically, it might be hardest to make a profit from value menu promotions, giving chains an incentive to cut them.

Many chains are raising value menu prices or reducing offers

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that some major chains, including Burger King, Denny's, and Domino's, are scaling back their value menus or even scaling down portion sizes in order to keep up with rising costs. In 2016, restaurant chains in the U.S. had more than twice as many value meals and combos on offer as they did in 2021. The value menus that remain at various chains have become less of a value for consumers, as the prices of many deals have increased.

Chains such as Little Caesars and Popeye's have simply raised the prices of some of their value meals, per CNBC. Domino's, on the other hand, is offering less for the same price. It decided to cut the number of chicken wings in its $7.99 carryout deal from 10 to eight. So while value menus may be a great way for customers to save money on their orders, shortages and rising food costs are making them increasingly unsustainable for many businesses. In order to cope, many fast food chains may, unfortunately, be forced to change, reduce, or even eliminate their dollar menus.