The beverage menu will be tested in three locations in San Diego and New Mexico.
IHOP revealed Thursday that it's adding an alcoholic beverage menu systemwide for the first time in its 63-year history.
The "Bubbles, Wine & Brews" selection features mimosas, wines from Barefoot by the glass, Bud Light, Blue Moon, and Corona. During the test phase, local restaurants may also include locally brewed beer and wines. The new menu will be available at three stores in San Diego and New Mexico and will expand into New York, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Ohio in the coming months. IHOP will use these early days to pilot the products and receive feedback from guests in order to optimize a larger rollout. The alcoholic beverages are available for dine-in only.
This marks the first time IHOP has pushed for alcohol across the entire company, but individual restaurants have tried it in recent years. In 2018, an IHOP in Phoenix claimed it was the first store to serve alcohol outside of an airport, and other locations in Las Vegas and Los Angeles have tested it, as well, according to Food & Wine.
Now, there's more interest nationwide. IHOP President Jay Johns said the chain's recent "Drinks and Dining Survey" showed that it's the "perfect time" to launch the alcoholic beverage menu. The survey, conducted in July with 1,000 adults aged 21-70, found that 66 percent of recent customers and 58 percent of younger guests (21-34) are craving an alcoholic drink to pair with their food. Also, 55 percent of IHOP customers prefer beer as a go-to drink with their meals, while 49 percent prefer wine.
“As we continue to focus and expand on our daytime and evening menu options, adult beverages offer a terrific innovation and evolution to enjoy IHOP for every occasion," Johns said in a statement.
The breakfast chain even offered suggestions on how to pair meals, including Barefoot Bubbly Brut mimosa with Original French Toast, Barefoot Chardonnay with the Southwest Chicken Burrito or Bowl, Barefoot's Cabernet Sauvignon with Sirloin Steak Tips, and Corona Extra with the Spicy Poblano Omelette.
IHOP follows in the footsteps of fellow family-dining chain Cracker Barrel, which introduced a beer and wine program in 2020. At the end of April, the menu was in 405 stores, and Cracker Barrel expects that total to reach roughly 600 by the end of Q1 2022. The chain is optimistic that beer and wine can reach 2 percent of dine-in sales.
Cammie Spillyards-Schaefer, vice president of culinary and menu strategy for Cracker Barrel, told FSR earlier this year that mimosas have become a customer favorite.
“I think because people eat breakfast with us all day, and that's a really important part of our brand, they might be eating pancakes at dinner, but the idea of combining those with a mimosa is delicious, right?” Spillyards-Schaefer said at the time. “The other thing we'll see is they might be eating Southern Fried Chicken, and what's better than champagne and fried chicken? And so they'll have an Orange Mimosa with a Southern Fried Chicken, and we know that our guests like that little cup of sweet, indulgent kind of drink. And so that seems to be fitting the bill for them.”