The chain is also exploring sites in Kansas and Ohio.
After dropping hints in the past couple of months, IHOP revealed Thursday that fast-casual offshoot Flip’d will make its long-awaited debut in New York City this summer.
Three additional sites are being explored for later this year, including Lawrence, Kansas; Columbus, Ohio; and Dublin, Ohio. IHOP’s new strategy is to pilot the fast-casual concept in three different markets—large metropolitan, suburban, and nontraditional. Previously, the plan was to focus solely on big metro markets.
The mission of Flip’d is to fulfill the growing demand for convenience and made-to-order breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The brand’s menu, inspired by IHOP, will included Pancake Bowls and Sandwiches, in addition to afternoon options like Burritos & Bowls, Steakburgers, and Chicken Sandwiches. Other notable items include egg combos with breakfast meats, egg sandwiches, freshly pressed orange juice and signature coffee brews, such as nitro cold brew and specialty espresso beverages, and grab-and-go salads and wraps.
The new store will be equipped with kiosks and a designated to-go area for customers to easily pick up online orders.
“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 in a statement. “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. 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.”
“Even though the footprints of these initial flip’d locations will vary during this pilot phase, what will remain consistent is our emphasis on quality, speed, to-go and delivery, all with the crave-worthy food that has been a hallmark of the IHOP brand for more than six decades,” he continued.
Flip’d was first announced in late 2019, with the inaugural site supposedly coming to Atlanta in April 2020. Additional sites in New York City, Washington, D.C., Denver, and San Francisco were also planned at the time. However, four months later, COVID swept through the U.S. IHOP remained silent on its plans until March when Johns revealed that flip’d was scheduled to debut this summer. In an interview with FSR in December 2019, Johns said, “We think this really gives us a great growth opportunity and there’s a lot of whitespace here. And clearly breakfast is still one of the fastest-growing areas in the restaurant business and it’s a big opportunity for us.”
The fast casual is part of a bigger, four-pronged growth plan for IHOP. In addition to this concept, the 1,750-unit breakfast chain plans to expand via traditional stores, nontraditional stores, and a new, slimmer prototype. Johns said the brand has the potential to exceed its annual average in the past decade of approximately 60 restaurants.
"While we develop new prototypes and do a lot of prototypical work, we do a lot of conversions, as well, and I think that will ramp up in this environment coming out of the pandemic," he said earlier in May. “ … We’re already seeing franchisees bring us smaller buildings as conversions, as well. And we’re not only going to have new prototypical small prototypes we’ll be testing, but we’re going to be doing some conversions that include applying the small prototype theories and philosophies into conversions, as well.”
The process of opening Flip’d includes a legal battle over its trademark. IHOP’s application to trademark “Flip’d” was initially rejected in 2019 because of confusion with Flipt, a restaurant based in Rivers Casino. After multiple other denials, IHOP sued the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in February, arguing confusion between the two marks isn’t likely. The case is still ongoing, according to court documents.