IHOP launches Flip’d by IHOP after rethinking the pilot through the pandemic

Render a Flip’d by IHOP location

Source: IHOP

IHOP will launch its fast-casual spin-off Flip’d by IHOP in July – more than a year after the initial planning.

The Dine Brands chain first introduced Flip’d in late 2019, positioning it as a way to attract consumers in busy urban areas. The first location was scheduled to open in Atlanta in April, but Covid appeared and spread across the US, causing lockdowns and a pause in IHOP’s plans for the spin-off.

As consumers got used to ordering groceries online and off-premises sales increased, the pancake chain pondered its strategy for Flip’d. Instead of only targeting busy city centers, IHOP is now planning to control the fast-casual locations in suburbs and also in high-end convenience stores.

“We assume that we will continue to open restaurants and when we open new ones we will incorporate whatever knowledge we have into the future design,” said IHOP President Jay Johns in an interview. “This is not a test that you start and then stop to evaluate before making any further decisions.”

The first Pilot Flip’d location will open in midtown Manhattan in late July. Other markets that an IHOP Flip’d could open later this year include Lawrence, Kansas, Columbus and Dublin, Ohio. Johns said IHOP has signed a deal to open multiple Flip’d locations with EG America, which owns convenience store chains like Kwik Stop and Minit Mart.

“We’ll learn where this works best and where we can focus on our future development once we get this insight,” said Johns.

A representation of the interior of a Flip’d by IHOP location

Source: IHOP

Flip’d customers can order their food at digital kiosks or at the counter. Delivery and digital order pick-up are also possible. And similar to a Chipotle Mexican Grill or Sweetgreen, the locations have significantly fewer seats than a full-service IHOP restaurant.

IHOP formulated the menu to be more convenient for customers who travel a lot, and gives fast-casual classics such as bowls their own special touch. Main courses include pancake shells, customizable egg sandwiches, burritos, and sandwiches to appeal to customers throughout the day. Grab-and-go salads and sandwiches are also sold.

During the pandemic, when the Flip’d pilot waited in limbo, IHOP launched burritos and bowls all over its place in an effort to reach more take-away customers.

All Flip’d locations are operated by franchisees. Johns said IHOP will offer $ 150,000 each to the first 10 franchisees to open their first Flip’d location to incentivize them and expedite the learning curve for IHOP.

“We expect to get outside interest – people who want to get into the system to do so – but initially most of them will be existing franchisees,” said Johns.

IHOP isn’t the first fast-casual chain to try a spin-off. In 2019, the Cheesecake Factory launched Social Monk Asian Kitchen, and Bloomin ‘Brands opened the Aussie Grill from outback locations internationally and in the US. Not everyone was fine. Cracker Barrel killed Holler & Dash, the fast-casual spinoff it launched in 2016 after acquiring Maple Street Biscuit.

Shares in Dine Brands, which include Applebee’s, are up 61% this year as investors look to a strong comeback once the pandemic clears. The company has a market value of $ 1.6 billion.

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