Desperate times are driving chain restaurants to desperate measures—straying from their bread-and-butter dishes and diversifying the menu. KFC now sells grilled chicken, Domino’s offers subs, and McDonald’s dips into the world of espresso coffee, USA Today reports. “This is a defining moment for the industry," says a National Restaurant Association analyst. "The financial crisis has brought with it a redefining of boundaries."
“When you're trying to grow a category, you need to bring in innovations,” notes Domino’s marketing head. Variety can cancel the “veto vote”—the guy who refuses a group trip to a restaurant because he doesn’t like their limited offerings. Thus Pizza Hut is pushing pasta; rotisserie-happy Boston Market is selling crispy chicken; and roast-beef purist Arby’s is making a burger-like sandwich.