- Taco Bell will rollout a new menu starting Sept. 12, eliminating nine items and refreshing the look and feel of its menu, according to a post on Taco Bell's website.
- The new menu, which will be set on a white background and have bigger pictures of food, will include 13 combos, including three breakfast combos. Comparatively, the old menu had 15 lunch and dinner combos.
- It will eliminate the Beef Mini Quesadilla, Chipotle Chicken Loaded Griller, Double Decker Taco, Cool Ranch & Fiery Doritos Locos Tacos, Power Menu Burrito, XXL Grilled Stuft Burrito, double tostada and chips and salsa.
Several QSRs and casual dining companies have been trimming the fat off bloated menus, focusing on popular items instead of specialty items that take away from efficiencies. Jack in the Box reduced menu redundancies from 180 restaurants, and McDonald's cut its Signature Crafted Recipes and revamped its late-night menu.
Focusing on core menu items can help QSRs improve food costs, which have been on the rise in recent years, and reduce labor costs. For McDonald’s, the simplification is meant to improve drive-thru times and kitchen efficiency by taking more labor-intensive items off the menu. Adding new menu items can overburden fast food workers, such as what happened with the overwhelming demand that Popeyes experienced with its new chicken sandwich launch. Simplified menus can also ease customer stress, since diners can find it difficult to pick from large menus and end up choosing the same thing each time they order from restaurants.
With same-store sales growth over the last 17 of 18 quarters, Taco Bell doesn't necessarily need to trim its core menu. During the second quarter, 6 million drivers went through the drive-thru, which improved average speed of service times by seven seconds, Taco Bell President, COO and CFO David Gibbs told investors during an earnings call. It also broke two weekly sales records just one week apart, he said. So trimming its core menu could just be a part of a brand refresh and part of a normal course of business.
Menu reductions could also reduce the risk of supply chain shortages, which became a short-term problem when a handful of stores in the U.S. ran out of tortillas due to a supplier issue. It was quickly fixed and had minimal damage on same-store sales growth, but the company’s CEO Greg Creed said this was unacceptable and took the issue up with its supplier.
Even though several of the items on the chopping block have been on the menu for some time — the Double Decker Taco has been a Taco Bell staple since 2011 — none of them have been highly ranked recently by customers. So removing these items won't likely have a dramatic impact on customer loyalty.
A leaner core menu could also allow Taco Bell to focus on its more popular and successful LTOs, including Nacho Fries. During the second quarter, its $5 limited-time offering Grande Nacho Box peaked with a sales mix of 10%, Creed told investors during an August earnings call. As part of its Nacho Fries return, it released its fourth fake movie trailer and broke weekly sales records twice during the promotion. It also has been testing a new vegetarian menu, which could enhance the revamped menu if it were to become nationwide.