IHOP rolls out biscuits menu nationwide for the first time as chain fights slowing sales

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For the first time ever, IHOP is making its biscuits menu available nationwide.

The Dine Brands chain, best known for its pancakes, has been branching out into different categories, from burritos to savory crepes, after slashing its menu by a third during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. The new menu items have largely focused on drawing in diners during lunch and dinner hours and attracting more takeout orders. IHOP has also brought back some old favorites, such as its Cinn-A-Stack pancakes.

However, the chain’s menu strategy hasn’t been enough to offset consumers’ cautious spending behavior. In its latest quarter, IHOP’s same-store sales grew just 2.1%, despite higher menu prices compared with the year-ago period. Sister brand Applebee’s fared even worse, reporting a same-store sales decline of 1% for the same period.

Shares of Dine Brands have fallen 25% this year, dragging its market value down to $856 million.

Starting Monday, IHOP’s sales — and Dine Brands’ stock — could get a boost from its biscuits menu. The chain has sold biscuits in certain regions, such as the South, but it decided to take the plunge and bring them to menus nationwide.

The new lineup includes a buttermilk biscuit; a breakfast biscuit sandwich made with bacon, American cheese, cheese sauce and eggs; a chicken biscuit sandwich that features pickle chips and country gravy; and a fresh strawberries and cream biscuit filled with cheesecake mousse, strawberries and syrup.

The breakfast biscuit sandwich, with a choice of a side, will be available until Sept. 26 for $7 to appeal to budget-minded consumers.

IHOP Chief Marketing Officer Kieran Donahue told CNBC that consumer research showed diners across the country would be interested in eating the chain’s biscuits.

“We wouldn’t have put this on our menu if we didn’t think it had national appeal,” she said.

But first, the chain upgraded its biscuit recipe. The result is a biscuit that’s flaky with a little crunch on the top, according to Donahue.

Biscuit sandwiches have been growing more popular with consumers, according to data from Datassential, a food and beverage market research firm.

Chick-fil-A’s national expansion outside its Southeast stronghold has brought the Southern breakfast staple further into the mainstream. When Wendy’s rolled out its breakfast nationwide in early 2020, biscuits joined croissants and English muffins as the bases for its breakfast sandwiches.

But biscuits aren’t on menus as much as they used to be. They can be found at 11.8% of U.S. restaurants, down from 14% in 2020, according to Datassential. Still, while their availability has shrunk, biscuits are growing more popular as sides and appetizers, the firm found.

In line with that trend, IHOP crafted its biscuits menu to be versatile. For example, the fresh strawberries and cream biscuit could be a sweet breakfast or a dessert.

Donahue also said that the chain made sure the biscuits could work for takeout as well. More than a fifth of IHOP’s sales come from to-go orders.

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