Fast-casual, to-go IHOP Express opens in San Diego
Customers at the new model, first tested at college campuses and military bases and now open in San Diego’s Gaslamp District, order at a counter for food that they can take on the go.
Instead of IHOP’s usual sprawling platters, menu items such as the Cup O’ Pancakes and the Ham & Cheese Crepette will be served in smaller portions and at lower prices.
IHOP still plans to open at least one of its normal-sized stores each week for the rest of the year. The 53-year-old chain has more than 1,500 locations around the country.
But slowing traffic caused by the economy along with changing consumer tastes have caused the casual, sit-down dining industry to falter. Many diners have defected to fast-casual chains, which are known for offering a lower price-point along with speed and quality.
So table-service restaurants such as IHOP are copying the competition.
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers this month revealed a fast-casual concept called Red Robin’s Burger Works, where is Banzai beef burger is $5.99 compared with nearly $10 at the original restaurants.
Starting in Orange County last year, Denny’s Corp. began opening Denny’s Cafés featuring streamlined menus, counter order and smaller buildings in an attempt to break into tightly-packed urban markets.
-- Tiffany Hsu
Photo: IHOP's Pancake Stackers. Credit: Associated Press / IHOP Restaurants