IHOP isn’t doing so great, yall. And I’m not just gleaming that from how my town’s IHOP closed in 2015 and was followed by another IHOP in a megamall that closed two years later. They seemed to have hit rock bottom in 2018, when they temporarily changed their name to IHOb, for International House of Burgers (or, as I and many Twitter users insist, International House of Bitches). Between Denny’s Tumblr account, Waffle House’s chaotic energy, and local diners serving food that tastes good eating up those shares of the market, IHOP just doesn’t know what niche it can thrive in.
Or so I thought! Because IHOP is back with an all-new venture: Flip’d. Flip’d is an IHOP-adjacent fast-casual restaurant focusing on “grab-and-go” breakfast items, including breakfast burritos, “pancake bowls,” and… chicken sandwiches?
While I do think they could make it work, I’m still pretty skeptical about many of the details of this venture. Between Starbucks, Dunkin, and Panera, I don’t think there’s quite as much room in the big-name fast casual market as they think there is. The prototypical mock-up looks like a hotel breakfast buffet. I cannot wrap my mind around “pancake bowl.” Is it a single pancake with eggs and stuff piled on top? Is it eggs and stuff and cut up pancake pieces mixed in? None of those sound especially appealing.
But, as I’m sure the folks at IHOP know, the key to their success is going to be location. They plan on rolling out locations in Atlanta, New York, Denver, and San Francisco throughout 2020. And, given their emphasis on grab-and-go, their best bet for this venture really is going to be setting up shop either near consumers’ workplaces or in commuter transit hubs, so choosing these cities helps build some confidence.
Will I be dedicating a trip to one of these cities just to experience Flip’d firsthand? Probably not. But, if I manage to find the time to do so while navigating Penn Station, I don’t see why not.