Earlier this year, Moe’s Southwest Grill rolled out two fan-inspired entrées along with three brand-new signature sauces. Now, the fast-casual chain is innovating with food once again as part of its Project Victory initiative. This strategy aims to improve multiple elements of the chain, including menu offerings, service standards, branding, and store design.
According to Restaurant Dive, Moe’s is currently overhauling its menu after carrying out tests to find ways to experiment with “more premium ingredients” at more than 80 restaurants. In addition to its plans for introducing new burritos, proteins, and sauces by the end of 2023, the chain has already implemented some menu changes.
In an effort to open up more menu space, Moe’s has removed and adjusted some of its food options. One item it has decided to do away with is shredded pork, as this was found to be a “slow-moving product.”
“It represented less than 2% of our total sales,” Tory Bartlett, Moe’s chief brand officer, told Restaurant Dive. “It was a great product, but overall, it just really wasn’t moving. If you have a product like that, there’s risk that it could sit there and get messed up if the team member doesn’t discard it or handle it the right way, and you end up serving an inferior product.”
Other tweaks to Moe’s menu include removing cucumbers, combining the grilled onions and peppers into one fajita mix, and changing the corn from a cold side to hot side.
In terms of new items, Moe’s is currently testing some proteins, including birria. Bartlett revealed that this menu item has shown to have “really great” margins compared to a steak product, adding that the chain sold 20 per day during operation tests. Pending the test, Moe’s plans to launch this item on Jan. 16, 2024.
Beyond the menu changes, Moe’s is also working to streamline its operations. One way it plans to do this is by making more items in-house. While the chain currently buys pre-cut steak, it is instead going to buy whole-muscle beef and test cutting it. This move is designed to save money on food production costs while also delivering a fresher, better product to customers.
Another major change Moe’s recently implemented was opening its locations at 10:30 a.m.—a half hour earlier than before. According to Bartlett, tests showed that this brought in around three customers per day per store during that half hour and boosted online traffic between 10 and 11:00 a.m.