IHOP may have decided that the higher the pancake stack the better, but not necessarily so when it comes to the length of the menu. The breakfast chain has quietly cut back its menu by 30 items over the past couple of years, joining a whole group of chain fast-casual and fast-food restaurants that have decided to focus on quality over quantity, like Tony Roma’s, Burger King, and McDonald’s. Numbers don’t lie when people vote with their wallets: Americans prefer smaller menus.
Apparently the size of America’s menus peaked in 2008 with an average menu size of 99.7 items, according to Datassential. Now, menus are averaging about 92.6 items per menu, which is still far above the 83.2 menu offerings that restaurants were averaging in 2005. The differences are even starker when you look at newly-opened restaurants, which have an average offering of 59.4 dishes.
"The rise of food culture, where consumers are both interested and willing to go to a restaurant that has the best bánh mí sandwich, or the best burger, or the best trendy item of the moment, means that operators can now create much more focused menus," Maeve Webster, a senior director at Datassential, told the Washington Post. "It also means that the larger the menu, the more consumers might worry all those things aren't going to be all that good."
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Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter@JoannaFantozzi