McDonald’s to Change Menu

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- McDonald's expansive menu is undergoing a makeover, as the chain eliminates some low-selling items and introduces leaner breakfast fare, the Chicago Tribune reported.

In a memo sent to its franchisees, the Oak Brook, Ill.-based chain signaled the impending demise of the Big N' Tasty, Mac Snack Wraps and its fruit and walnut salad, among other items. At the same time, McDonald's is gearing up for a planned national rollout in January of an oatmeal breakfast, currently being test-marketed.

The menu moves -- particularly the new breakfast offering-- could prove healthy for customers' waistlines and McDonald's bottom line, Morningstar restaurant analyst R.J. Hottovy told the newspaper. "There is a general perception that breakfast foods are unhealthy and we're seeing increasing consumer demand for healthy alternatives," Hottovy said.

According to the memo, dated June 24, McDonald’s Mac Snack Wrap will be off the menu by August, supplanted by Angus Snack Wraps. The last call for scattered aficionados of the Big N' Tasty is set for Sept. 1, while the fruit and walnut salad will be phased out later this year, according to the report.

While she wouldn't confirm or deny the changes, McDonald's spokeswoman Danya Proud said the $1.99 oatmeal breakfast has been well received during a test run this spring in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. "The test is going very well and customer feedback has been extremely positive," Proud said.

Long the powerhouse of fast-food breakfast, McDonald's is facing new challenges for morning supremacy. Beyond Burger King, which openly duplicates staples from McDonald's menu, Starbucks successfully introduced oatmeal two years ago, and Subway entered the fray this spring with its own made-to-order breakfast sandwich.

"This is another way for McDonald's to differentiate themselves from the crowded breakfast space right now," Hottovy said.

However, trimming the lengthy menu during the rest of the day could prove no less beneficial for franchisees, according to Richard Adams, a former McDonald's executive who now runs a California-based franchise consulting group.

"It's too intense for an entry-level workforce to handle a broad menu like this," Adams said. "The history of this industry is simple menus."

With Mac Snack Wraps selling at a rate of 10 to 15 per day at some locations, and the Big N' Tasty only slightly better, Adams said neither will be missed by many franchisees, or customers for that matter. He said the demise of the Big N' Tasty -- a knockoff of the Burger King Whopper -- might also signal a lull in the ongoing burger wars.

"They've kept the Big N' Tasty around as a competitor to the Whopper, in case they wanted to launch another burger war and put it on the dollar menu," Adams told the Tribune. "Then Burger King has to retaliate with 99 cent Whoppers. I think it's good that they get rid of the Big N' Tasty, so they're not tempted to do that."
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