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7 Restaurant Chains That Are Reinventing Themselves in 2024

Major changes are on the horizon for some big names in American eating.
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Multiple restaurant chains have struggled to maintain market share and stay relevant in 2024. While a creative marketing plan can help turn things around, sometimes a restaurant needs to completely reinvent itself for a new beginning.

Some of these wayward restaurant chains thrive when they return to the basics. Reevaluating what worked in the beginning can be the secret sauce to turning things around. What originally made the chain attractive to customers can hold the key to future financial success.

For other restaurants, this era of reinvention includes adopting new, bold strategies. Menu revamps, updates in pricing, and operational changes are just a few examples of how these chains plan to make big moves in 2024 and beyond.

Here are seven familiar brands that are looking to get it together this year.

Burger King

Burger King storefront
Photo: Mitriakova Valeriia / Shutterstock. Design: Eat This, Not That!

The reinvention of Burger King has been in progress for a few years. The fast-food burger chain launched its Reclaim the Flame initiative in 2022 to accelerate growth for a company known for lagging behind its biggest competitor, McDonald's. "Reclaim the Flame is estimated to cost $400 million and will include a massive redesign of its restaurants. The redesign, known as Sizzle, will join the previously launched Garden Grill design as one of two concepts coming to nearly half of all Burger King locations in the U.S. and Canada by the end of 2024.

The Sizzle concept is designed to create a "consistent, frictionless experience," according to Tom Curtis, president of North America for Burger King. That includes installing digital ordering kiosks as part of the Sizzle design. In addition to a refreshed restaurant design, customers can expect changes to the menu. An expanded marketing effort will go into effect to promote the chain's flame-grilled burgers and not just the singular, iconic Whopper.

 Every Burger King Chicken Sandwich, Tasted & Ranked


Panera Bread storefront against colorful background
Photo: Shutterstock. Design: Eat This, Not That!

Over the years, Panera Bread has undergone many changes to keep up with consumer demand. Most customer-facing changes have included menu items coming and going, but the changes have also impacted pricing. In recent years, Panera dipped its toes in offering a higher-end dinner menu. When that strategy didn't pan out, it was clear a massive shift was necessary to bring customers back.

The fast-casual chain is reinventing itself by returning to basics in significant ways. According to CNN, Panera is now "acknowledging that customers in a world of high inflation are looking for less-expensive food." Dinner is no longer the focus, and Panera is back to embracing breakfast and lunch in what it describes as the biggest menu overhaul in brand history. This includes new menu items, discontinued items, and "recipe enhancements" to a dozen classic items.

 I Tried Every New Panera Sandwich & One Was Flawless

Ruth's Chris Steak House

ruth's chris steak house
Photo: The Image Party / Shutterstock

If you need a hint that a restaurant chain is about to undergo major changes, look for acquisitions. That is exactly what happened to Ruth's Chris Steak House, which was acquired last summer by the massive brand empire Darden Restaurants, parent company of Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen, Eddie V's, and Yard House. While this acquisition yielded efforts to improve popular menu items, customers can also expect other necessary changes to improve profits.

These changes were fast and furious. One menu change involved elevating the signature filet, a popular choice of cut that, when done right, keeps customers coming back. Other changes included eliminating home delivery. Ruth's Chris regulars can also say goodbye to grabbing lunch at their favorite steakhouse, as the midday hours were eliminated "wherever possible," according to Darden's CEO Rick Cardenas.

 I Tried the Cheapest Steak at 4 Upscale Steakhouse Chains to Find the #1 Best

Chuck E. Cheese

chuck e cheese
Photo: Shutterstock

Chuck E. Cheese has come a long way from the hybrid arcade and pizza restaurant that kids grew up with decades ago. These days, game tokens and prize tickets are digital, and many of the remaining locations have done away with the animatronic stage show. Now that those '80s and '90s kids are bringing children of their own to Chuck E. Cheese, the stakes are high to keep paying customers returning.

The solution? Launching a Grown-Up Menu for Chuck E. Cheese's original kids, who are now too old to jump in the ball pit but not old enough to forget what it's like to bite into a slice of pizza baked by Pasqually P. Pieplate. According to Restaurant Dive, the new menu items cater to adults. Those menu items include spicy Hawaiian pizza, chicken wings, and two styles of meatball pizza: signature and spicy.

Noodles & Co.

noodles & company
Photo: Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock

There are only so many ways to prepare noodles—at least, that's what it seemed when you dined at Noodles & Co. The fast-casual chain had seen some success in its early years with a menu focused entirely on noodle dishes. But with interim-turned-permanent CEO Drew Madsen at the helm, Noodles & Co. is seeing a major overhaul of its menu, impacting a whopping 50% of items, according to Restaurant Business Online. Expect changes to everything from recipes to names, along with new items.

These changes are part of an overall movement to transform Noodles & Co. into a "contemporary comfort kitchen," as Madsen describes. This rebranding initiative will also include order accuracy and pricing to improve customer experience. Noodles & Co. plans to roll out these changes later this year and into early 2025.

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man making pizzas at &pizza.
Photo: &Pizza / Facebook

The restaurant chain &pizza is located in a few select states in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. The restaurant chain has always had a flair for rebellion in its branding, often incorporating marketing tactics "that were on the edge of counterculture," per QSR Magazine. Over the years, however, &pizza lost its way, becoming "a little too boring," according to CEO Mike Burns. Its corporate leanings affected everything from customer satisfaction to employee morale.

&pizza is taking back control in big ways in 2024. The restaurant chain will prioritize letting "employees be themselves and crank the music up," literally and figuratively. Its menu is returning to its roots, bringing back classics like the Farmer's Daughter and Moonstruck pizzas. These changes, along with several back-of-house tweaks and updates, are all to bring &pizza back to its original vision—that pizza should be "fun," said Burns.

 The 5 Fastest-Growing Pizza Chains in America

Melting Pot

The melting pot
Photo: Michael Rivera / Wikimedia Commons

The restaurant industry was hit hard during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, but few chains were as ostracized in an era of social distancing as Melting Pot. After all, gathering in close quarters around a shared pot of melted cheese was not the ideal setting. The restaurant chain is looking to bounce back after a rough few years.

Part of this reinvention involves leaning toward the experiential side of dining. "People want to feel connected to something bigger," Melting Pot CEO Bob Johnston told Eater. This thinking has been a core component of Melting Pot's attempt at revitalization. According to Johnston, the goal is to be top-of-mind when customers want to celebrate special occasions, like promotions or date nights. So far, this strategy has manifested in new menu items like made-to-order appetizers, new items to dip in the fondue, and the ability to grill your own meats at your table.

Carly Neil
Carly Neil is a freelance writer specializing in all things food, travel, Disney, and theme parks. Read more about Carly