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IHOP Takes a Page Out of Olive Garden's Playbook

The International House of Pancakes has brought back a popular all-you-can-eat  pancakes offer.

As many restaurant chains toy with new loyalty programs and subscriptions, the International House of Pancakes (IHOP, owned by Dine Brands (DIN) - Get Dine Brands Global, Inc. Report, is bringing back its $5.99 unlimited pancake deal.

"YoU CaN'T EaT aLL tHe PaNcAkEs — someone who doesn't know that All You Can Eat Pancakes are back at IHOP," the L.A.-based chain wrote in a parody of a popular meme on Twitter  (TWTR) - Get Twitter, Inc. Report.

The deal, which IHOP launches regularly for limited periods of time, starts out with a plate of five buttermilk pancakes. As diners finish them, they can theoretically add refills of two more ad infinitum. That said, the low price is restricted to the chain's simplest buttermilk flapjack — pancakes with fruit or chocolate chips as well as accompaniments such as bacon or sausage come at an additional cost.

All-You-Can-Eat Has Worked for Olive Graden

This type of deal is reminiscent of Italian restaurant chain Olive Garden's (which is owned by Darden (DRI) - Get Darden Restaurants, Inc. Report) Never Ending Pasta Bowl — an all-you-can-eat pasta offer that was launched in 1995 but not actively promoted since 2019. 

Unlimited offers such as this are somewhat rare for national chains but, in the last six months, have started reappearing alongside subscriptions: recently, fast-casual chain Sweetgreen  (SG) - Get Sweetgreen, Inc. Class A Report launched a $10 monthly offer that gives customers $3 off every daily purchase of $9.99 or more. Tex-Mex chain Taco Bell also launched a subscription that gives members a taco every day of the month for a monthly price of $10.

For IHOP, the promotion comes close to its annual National Pancake Day on March 1 — while last year's event was canceled due to the pandemic, the restaurant typically holds one day a year in which it gives visitors a free pancake in exchange for their donations to local charities. 

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IHOP Also Has a New Fast-Casual Brand

In addition to offering the all-you-can-eat pancake promotion, IHOP has also launched a new restaurant concept, "flip’d by IHOP." The breakfast-based chain first announced the new concept in 2019, but it did not launch until summer 2021.

“Since we originally announced flip’d in 2019, a lot has changed. We wanted to ensure that we were evolving the concept to meet our guests’ needs,” said IHOP President Jay Johns,

The fledgling new chain plays into trends that have developed and accelerated during the pandemic.

“While we know there is a pent-up demand for a return to dining in restaurants, we anticipate that our delivery and takeout business is here to stay as consumer needs continue to shift and they seek out different ways to experience IHOP favorites," Johns said. "With flip’d, we can provide that on-the-go fast-casual experience, making now the perfect time to bring this concept into the world.”

flip'd offers an all-day menu that borrows heavily from the parent brand's menu. It will also offer "reimagined breakfast classics like Pancake Bowls and Egg Sandwiches; as well as more PM-centric options including Burritos & Bowls, Steakburgers, and Chicken Sandwiches."

Customers at flip'd will be able to order from a digital kiosk or directly at the counter.  They can also order online in advance and pick up their food at a designated pickup spot in the restaurant.

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