Is Less Really More on Fast-Casual Restaurant Menus?

By Joe Skupinsky

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Mark Twain famously wrote, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).”

In the quick-service and fast-food industries, we continue to see brands that take the approach of the simplified menu. Think of some modern, successful chains: Chipotle, Shake Shack, Five Guys Burgers and Fries. All keep their menus to a few items. Even The Organic Coup, an organic chicken chain backed by Costco, plans to nest in the Seattle market by basically offering three variations of the same menu item: the chicken sandwich.

So it’s worth noting when you find an exception to this modern unwritten rule of menu curation. Meet The Stand, a Southern California chain offering more than 40 entrees, burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, salads, and more at each of its four locations.

“A lot of narrowly focused concepts have dumbed down their menu so much that it’s hard to get more than two people to agree to go to them sometimes unless it’s your once-a-month trip to Shake Shack or something like that,” CEO and Co-Manager Murray Wishengrad told QSR magazine. “We just felt that that strategy—although very common and certainly revered by customers and the financial marketplace—wasn’t what we wanted it to be.”

The Stand welcomes you and that friend in your group who always ruins your dinner plans with, “Eh, I just had that a couple of days ago.” They hope that customers will frequent locations multiple times per week. Rather than looking to Chipotle for inspiration, The Stand looks to The Cheesecake Factory, which has an extensive menu. The Stand is also differentiating itself from competitors by collaborating with local brewers to make custom brews. This sounds like one hoppin’ place, if you’ll pardon the beer joke.

Standing Up, Not Sitting Down

What’s your take on The Stand’s approach vs. the “less is more” approach? What does it mean for restaurant operations and growth? Only time will tell if the fast-casual segment sticks with the simple menu approach or sways back to longer menus.

Regardless, restaurants need to take a stand on menu strategy because it’s so fundamental to growth. Expanding a restaurant chain like The Stand and transferring an extensive menu to multiple locations is tough work that requires excellent communication. Offering new menu items and promotions across your locations is also an exercise in communication. That’s where Zenput can help. Learn more about our mobile solution for restaurant operations by clicking here.

See Also

Why Regularly Inspecting Your Franchise is Important
Menu Pricing Matters in Fast-Food Segment
Hidden Menus Build Customer Loyalty
Healthy Food Promotions: A ‘Must’ for Retailers
Restaurant Operations Lessons from In-N-Out Burger

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