Casual dining chain IHOP will venture into fast-casual territory in 2020 with a new concept called Flip’d. The new standalone chain will focus heavily on to-go, delivery, and technology, according to a press release from IHOP.
Like IHOP locations, Flip’d will serve three meals a day but keep a particular emphasis on breakfast. “The Flip’d by IHOP menu will borrow inspiration from iconic IHOP favorites – including the brand’s world-famous Buttermilk pancakes – but put a unique twist on flavors and portability in a way that only IHOP can,” the press release said. What that shakes out to in real life remains to be seen, but it will include a build-your-own pancake bar, made-to-order breakfast burritos and bowls, and grab-and-go salads and baked goods, among other items.
Even more important than what’s on the menu is how you can order and retrieve those items. Customers will have the option to order either from a cashier at the counter or at a self-service kiosk. They can also order and pay online, then either pick the food up in a designated to-go area of the restaurant or have it delivered. It’s unclear yet if Flip’d will share IHOP’s exact same delivery strategy. Currently, IHOP customers can order delivery through the IHOP mobile app or website. The restaurant also works with DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, Uber Eats, and Uber Eats. Catering via ezCater is also available.
The first Flip’d location is planned for Spring 2020 in Atlanta, with stores in NYC, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Denver in the works.
IHOP is just the latest restaurant brand to launch a fast-casual spinoff of its main business, following the likes of Famous Dave’s, which launched Clark Crew BBQ this year, and The Cheesecake Factory, which opened an Asian fast-casual concept earlier in 2019. In 2018, Buffalo Wild Wings started testing B-Dubs Express, which includes a sauce wall and self-service beer stations.
All of which to say, restaurants diversifying into concepts that emphasize speed, self-service, and off-premises orders is becoming an ever-more popular strategy. No one would call it off-premises-focused concepts table stakes yet, but with the continued demand for delivery and to-go orders, and the foregone conclusion that ghost kitchens will rule 2020, fast-casual concept brands from old-school restaurant chains is something we’ll see more of next year.