IHOP opened a fast-casual variant of its brand in San Diego Thursday, opening up franchise opportunities for non-traditional locations with smaller footprints.
Dubbed IHOP Express, the new unit in San Diego’s Gaslamp District represents the completion of extensive testing of the smaller concept, which company officials said is designed to make the brand more accessible wherever guests are “on the go,” including university campuses and military bases.
“Consumers’ dining needs vary, and IHOP Express fills an important need by allowing guests to sip, flip and enjoy our famous coffee and buttermilk pancakes, along with other options found only at IHOP Express, in less time,” IHOP president Jean Birch said in a statement.
IHOP Express offers counter service and a limited menu designed for portability. Options include the Cup O’ Pancakes, served in a cup and topped with strawberry–banana, double blueberry or caramel apple toppings; corn cake tacos with meat, shredded cheese and fresh salsa; and lower-calorie options from the chain’s Simple & Fit menu, such as a ham and cheese crepette.
Signature dishes from the 1,532-unit chain’s menu are also offered, such as the Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity and Bacon ‘N Beef burgers.
Dishes can be taken to go, but IHOP Express offers a small seating area and such elements as an “interactive syrup bar.” Guests also can see into the open “flip kitchen.”
Last year, IHOP announced plans to grow the brand on college campuses through a partnership with foodservice provider Aramark, which opened an earlier version of IHOP Express at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
That location and subsequent campus sites opened by Aramark were later dubbed IHOP U.
The company also has experimented with a slightly larger restaurant called IHOP Café, which focuses on coffee and specialty beverages.
IHOP is owned by Glendale, Calif.-based DineEquity Inc.