Why Restaurants Discontinue Popular Items

Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links. A commission may be earned for us by clicking some links and buying some products.

There is a few reasons why restaurants discontinue popular items on the menu that actually seemed to do very well in the publics’ eyes. Restaurants do their best to earn the most profit possible on a day to day basis, so why would they discontinue something that everyone seemed to like? One reason for this could be that the item on the menu wasn’t as profitable as the consumer might have thought.

However, this isn’t always why, and there are multiple other reasons why they do it, which will make more sense when we take a deeper look into why they do it.

It Is Seasonal

Some of these popular food items in restaurants of all types and cafes are actually seasonal. This means that their appearance on the menu is only short lived until the end of the season. Some of these popular foods don’t look seasonal from the perspective of the consumers, but these items are sure to be removed and return again the same time next year.

Some restaurants actually have this planned and scheduled out for special drinks, desserts, and other main meals on their menu. Restaurants do pay attention to the seasons and the special holidays that are coming up. Some cafes for example will come out with a pumpkin spice coffee flavored beverage once the fall hits. This beverage will be removed once the fall ends.

Sometimes the employees of these restaurants are filled in about the new arrival of a seasonal food item, but aren’t told that they are only temporary or seasonal. Usually the ones that are informed about the whole thing is the owner of the restaurant and the general manager. Sometimes other management may know some things about it as well.

This means that the employees will also ask the same questions as to why they are removed from the menu once they are gone (since they often get to taste test them too or order it personally), but the good thing is that they will appear again next season.

The corporate of the restaurants are simply following the same protocol as other local stores by including special items, because of the holiday or season. Once the holiday or season is up, the restaurant may feel like the item won’t sell that well, so they discontinue it until the next year.

It Was A Hassle

Sometimes restaurants will remove a popular item from their menu, because it is a hassle to deal with it. Even though that popular food item on their menu is bringing in some good profit, it may not be easy for the restaurant to make it.

As most of the restaurant’s guests may not know, most of the employees might find it unpleasant to prepare or make that certain food item. The restaurant might deem it unworthy to remain on the menu, because of the hassle. It may be demoralizing the staff whenever it is time to prepare and make that popular item.

This could be causing a high turnover rate (many of the employees frequently leaving to work elsewhere), which the restaurant is tired of dealing with. They may stop making that special item and just decide to focus on the other main foods and drinks that they make that are not so complicated, but still feel are necessary.

If the majority of people that come in don’t ask much about it when the popular item is discontinued, or it seems as if they’ll still order something else on the menu after it is gone, then the restaurant won’t feel it necessary to bring it back.

The staff will celebrate its removal, and feel relieved enough to show up to work the next day and do their job, without the hassle of making that item. The staff won’t miss it, even though the customers will. The employees usually won’t tell the customers why it was discontinued if they ask if it happens for this reason, because of fear of having it return to the menu.

Going into detail telling the customer why it is gone, may mean that they’ll have to deal with the hassle of making it again in the future. The staff will usually vaguely talk about why it was discontinued and hope that you forget about it, while they will be grateful inside that it is gone, despite how much the customers miss it.

Most of the time these popular items are made very similarly to the rest of the foods and drinks made by the restaurant. The restaurant is able to easily make them all along with the rest of the food on their menu, with the same equipment that they already have. However, sometimes restaurants include popular items that can’t be made with their necessary equipment.

This could make it a hassle for their restaurant to make that popular item, since it feels as if they have to go out of their way to make it. Usually restaurants try to avoid extra labor by only making foods, desserts, and drinks that can be made easily, all with the same equipment.

The Popular Item Was Controversial

Sometimes restaurants remove and discontinue certain popular items, because they were controversial in the society around them. It may be a group of individuals that are making strong conspiracies that are being believed locally about that food or drink item. This may cause the item to become popular, but also attract unwanted attention to their establishment.

It may appear to negatively impact their restaurant as a whole, so it gets removed permanently or temporarily from their menu.

It Wasn’t Food Safe

The food item or drink may not have been food safe to begin with. This can lead to the permanent removal and discontinuation/production of that popular item.

Sometimes the FDA finds something new through testing that makes the popular food carcinogenic for example. Also, the ingredients used to make that food might be found to be infected with something that can cause a food borne illness.

When this happens, restaurants are forced to discontinue the popular item temporarily until they find another source of ingredients to make the food or drink that is food safe, or permanently if they cannot.

If a restaurant decides to ignore the health inspectors visiting and inspecting their establishments regularly, and try to continue to sell the items, they could be permanently shut down and fined.

These things do happen more often than most individuals would think, as food products that restaurants use to make their foods can become unavailable because of a breakout. This means that the restaurant cannot buy the ingredients needed to make the popular item, and they may have to immediately dump everything for it that they have on hand for food safety concerns.

Restaurants that are still young can also do things in ignorance, which may not be food safe. An example may be a restaurant that is selling ‘edible’ cookie dough. This is not something that is food safe if the cookie dough contains raw flour and eggs in it. It could lead to the discontinued production of that popular item.

Restaurants are required to have a food handlers certificate, but this doesn’t mean that they are immune from doing things that a health inspector wouldn’t consider food safe, or make poor decisions.

It Is Too Expensive

The money invested into producing the item is just not worth the profit. This does happen, but not in the way that most individuals would think. When a restaurant prepares their food, they do so often times hours before the store opens. That means that certain popular foods and drinks that are more sensitive risk being affected by the waiting time.

Also, restaurants may have to cook the food and keep it hot or warm before it is served to their guests. Not all food and drinks react positively to this waiting time.

Some foods degrade in quality faster than others when they are kept this way, contrary to food that is immediately prepared and cooked as ordered by the guest. The reason why these foods would be prepared and cooked beforehand, is because they may take way too long to cook and serve if they were not.

These complications can lead to a lot of food waste, even though that food on the menu is popular and sells quite often. A restaurant may discontinue it if the profits are equal to or less than other items on their menu that aren’t so delicate and perishable.

The Restaurant Is Testing Things Out

Restaurants do seldomly test out new things and start including them on their menu. However, restaurants can be oblivious to the potential that these items have if they were kept on their menu. They may be unaware of how popular that item is in their region, even though it may not have a national level of popularity.

It is a risk for restaurants to try these new things and keep them on their menu for too long if they don’t know it’s potential. If the item truly is profitable and sells a lot nationally in large restaurants that are known well, then they usually will keep it on the menu.

However, just because one of their establishments out of the many has popularity in the region, doesn’t mean that it is profitable enough for them to keep it on their menu in all their establishments elsewhere.

Leave a Reply

Discover more from The Restaurant Life

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading