Denny's Revamps Pancakes in Bid to Keep Up Sales Momentum
Believing that "America deserves better" when it comes to pancakes, Denny's has rolled out four breakfast dishes featuring its new buttermilk version. The change to the pancake recipe comes as breakfast is getting more attention in the restaurant industry, including after McDonald's introduced its All Day Breakfast menu in October and Kellogg's opened its Times Square cafe-style eatery serving multi-topping cereal mixtures last month.
The restaurant chain unveiled the enhanced breakfast staple, which it says is 50% fluffier than before, at a press event at its only Manhattan store on July 11, with the national rollout served up today. The pancake breakfasts are available in sticky bun, double berry banana, strawberries and cream, and peanut butter cup flavors.
The revamp is intended to "help continue momentum with sales" that the company has enjoyed in recent marketing periods, said Sharon Lykins, Denny's senior director of product innovation. In 2015, Denny's U.S. sales rose 4.1% to nearly $2.55 billion, according to data from Technomic.
The upgrade entails changes to preparation style as well as recipe, with ingredients including eggs, buttermilk, a mixture of general purpose and cake flour, and a "hint of vanilla." Denny's announced in January it would switch to cage-free eggs by 2026. Ms. Lykins said the chefs are now all using the same six-inch spatula to ensure the pancakes are consistent and uniform.
Customers can still get the all-you-can-eat pancakes option for $4, said a representative from Erwin Penland, the agency behind the national TV spots promoting the upgraded recipe.
The chain's marketing push includes national TV spots that center on the effect these pancakes will have on the former champions of pancake flipping: grandparents.
The company's "Grand Slams" video series, hosted by its mascot Mr. Pancake, has garnered significant web traffic for Denny's, having accrued 62 million completed views since its launch, according to Denny's Chief Marketing Officer John Dillon.
Mr. Dillon added that Spanish versions of the TV spots have been developed in order to adequately serve the company's diverse consumer base. While most of its locations are in the U.S., the chain has restaurants in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guam, the United Arab Emirates, Chile, Curaçao, El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago.
Denny's has more than 1,700 restaurants, of which 91% are franchised or licensed, with combined annual sales of about $2.8 billion.