- Chick-fil-A will begin testing new menus on Jan. 13 at restaurant locations in Charlotte, North Carolina and Arizona, omitting some of its current menu items to make room for what it describes as "future offerings," according to a press release.
- Items that will be removed include breakfast sausage, Original Chick-n-Strips, the Grilled Cool Wrap and the side salad. It's also streamlining some menu items to only be available in one size, such as catering trays and coffee.
- In Charlotte, participating locations will also offer the following new spicy menu items: Spicy Chick-n-Strips, the Grilled Spicy Deluxe Sandwich and the Spicy Chick-n-Strips Biscuit.
Chick-fil-A has a devout following, and because part of ts branding hinges on its simple, streamlined menu, the chain doesn't approach menu changes lightly. In April, it added mac and cheese as its first permanent side since 2016 after testing it in five markets and receiving favorable customer feedback. The spicy chicken menu has already been tested in Philadelphia, Central and South Texas and Arizona, and the addition of Charlotte suggests it is seeking additional diner reactions. Such feedback will help the chain determine whether or not it will take these items nationwide, according to a separate press release, while a streamlined menu could make room for these new offerings instead of clogging up the back-of-house with new items.
The fast food chain could also be testing the modified menus in a bid to streamline operational costs and labor further while determining whether a chainwide shift to trimmed-down options would create too much upset among its customer base. The brand has been busy offering guests a number of other innovations recently, including allowing guests to order from their table and delivering out of virtual kitchens. As brands offer more innovations that dig into their financial and labor resources, finding other areas to cut costs will become more crucial.
A number of other QSR players are also rethinking their menus to focus on popular items instead of adding specialty items that can complicate back-of-house operations. In August of last year, Taco Bell revamped its menu to cut nine items. It also refreshed the aesthetics of its menu to have bigger pictures of the food. Jack in the Box also cut menu items at 180 restaurants. McDonald's phased out its Signature Crafted Recipe burgers and sandwiches last summer, only two years after adding them to the line up. A document from the brand said it is hoping to reduce the number of products on its menu along with premium ingredients that undoubtedly cost more than standard inputs. McDonald's drive-thru times are among the slowest in the industry, and the chain has struggled with keeping stores fully staffed, placing further pressure on the need to feature a more simplified menu.
Simpler menus can also help protect against shortages as well. Popeyes' chicken sandwich was so popular when it launched in August, that it sold out within two weeks and took two months to regain adequate supply.
Offering new items could help boost margins in the face of stiffer competition as well. Popeyes generated a 299% boost in traffic during its chicken sandwich relaunch and McDonald's is testing two chicken sandwiches that could rival both, with plans to add chicken to the breakfast menu this year.