Wake Up Call

Fast-Food Chains' Race to the Bottom: Del Taco to Introduce "Buck and Under" Menu

Because there aren't enough cheap fast-food options out there already, Del Taco will lower the bar, rumor has it, to compete with McDonald's Dollar Menu. It plans to introduce a "Buck and Under" menu with options as low as 50 cents because that's what people want, Del Taco says.

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"We've added more to it and taken the stance that if you look at our competition, they're playing at $1," Del Taco executive vice president and chief brand officer John Cappasola told Nation's Restaurant News. "But we know we can deliver at a buck and under with some really great variety. It's right in the wheelhouse of what our core user is looking for right now."

The new menu will feature a new Crunchy Chipotle Beef Taco, Mini Cheddar and Mini Bacon Quesadilla, as well as a Value Bean and Cheese Burrito, Jacked Up Value Bean and Cheese Burrito with rice, grilled chicken taco, half-pound bean and cheese burrito, double beef classic taco, Real Strawberry Lemonade with strawberry slices and a medium-size iced tea. Each of which will be priced at either $1, 75 cents, or 50 cents.

Meanwhile, on the McDonald's Dollar Menu, you'll find the McDouble burger, a McChicken sandwich, a side salad, and a Fruit 'N Yogurt Parfait, among other options. The economic benefits of the lower-priced menu haven't been so great since, according to reports, McDonald's cheaper-prices strategy failed to boost sales in the first quarter.

The Buck and Under menu is actually part of a re-branding campaign that the California-based chain started in 2011. The initiative included updating many of the Del Taco facilities and pushing their "scratch-made food and ingredient quality."

The new menu means that diners eating at Del Taco can no longer console themselves by at least knowing they're eating a place that's a half-step less cheap than Taco Bell, which already offers the "Why Pay More" menu, with items priced as low as 89 cents.

In other-fast food news, Burger King is now delivering in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago -- in addition to Washington, D.C., Houston, Miami, and New York. Neither McDonald's nor Wendy's currently offers delivery and BK says the service does boost sales. It's evident that whether the food is cheap or not, fast-food diners are just really damn lazy.

Oh, and here's a photo of what a McDonald's burger looks like after spending 14 years in a coat pocket. Really yummy stuff:

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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria