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IHOP Relaunching Fast-Casual Spin-off flip’d After Pandemic Delay

IHOP Relaunching Fast-Casual Spin-off flip’d After Pandemic Delay

May 20, 2021 at 05:09PM
by PYMNTS

After an 18-month delay, IHOP announced that it is relaunching its fast-casual restaurant brand flip’d this summer, in what will serve largely as a takeout-oriented version of its flagship chain. The original plans were to launch the company’s new label last spring. The first flip’d location will debut in New York City, with three more locations to open by the end of the year.

“Since we originally announced flip’d in 2019, a lot has changed. We wanted to ensure that we were evolving the concept to meet our guests’ needs,” Jay Johns, president of IHOP, said in a statement. “While we know there is a pent-up demand for a return to dining in restaurants, we anticipate that our delivery and takeout business is here to stay as consumer needs continue to shift … With flip’d, we can provide that on-the-go, fast-casual experience, making now the perfect time to bring this concept into the world.”

While flip’d was originally conceived as a restaurant concept for a metropolitan consumer — with the first opening initially planned in Atlanta and with Chicago, Boston and Dallas locations under consideration — IHOP has now revised its strategy. Instead of focusing solely on urban audiences, the chain is now also eyeing suburban markets: Following the NYC launch, IHOP has planned flip’d openings in Lawrence, Kansas; Columbus, Ohio; and Dublin, Ohio.

As Jay Johns told CNBC, the company will also try out grab-and-go locations in select EG America-owned convenience stores. “We’re going to learn our way into where will this work the best and where to focus our future development once we get those learnings,” he explained.

Many are turning to the fast-casual format to take advantage of consumers’ lasting desire for flexible, off-premises ordering options as we begin to emerge from the pandemic. In an interview with PYMNTS, David Bloom, chief development and operations officer for fast-casual restaurant Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop and its subsidiary Wing Zone, said the format is in the “sweet spot of where the consumer is and where they seem to be going.” Specifically, he said, the format balances consumers’ desires for “a really high-quality product,” for “an affordable price point” and for a range of off-premises ordering options that fit into their changing lifestyles.

“Even though the footprints of these initial flip’d locations will vary during this pilot phase, what will remain consistent is our emphasis on quality, speed, to-go and delivery,” said Johns in the news release.

The flip’d’ menu will feature various egg dishes, a build-your-own pancake bar and coffee drinks. It will also include a to-go twist on IHOP’s pancakes with Pancake Bowls — a bowl with pancakes and toppings — and a handful of more lunch-friendly options, such as salads and sandwiches.

The all-day breakfast model has been in high demand throughout the past year. Carol DiRaimo, interim vice president of investor relations at Jack in the Box, said earlier this year in an interview with QSR that all-day breakfast has given the chain the competitive advantage, while McDonald’s has been receiving petitions to bring back its own all-day breakfast.

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