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Sonic Expands Chicken Sandwich Offerings

Sonic Expands Chicken Sandwich Offerings

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Two new chicken varieties are available

Sonic Corp., known for its drive-in burgers and hot dogs, said Friday it has upgraded and expanded its chicken sandwich offerings.

Watch a commercial for the new chicken sandwiches

• Sonic swings to profit in 3Q
• More restaurant industry food and beverage news

The two chicken-breast sandwiches are available either fried or grilled in a classic version or a new Asiago Caesar Chicken Sandwich, which is being offered for a limited time.

“Chicken sandwiches are sometimes overlooked on menu, and we wanted our new premium chicken sandwiches to wake up the standard fare with a fresh flavor experience,” said Chef Clas Petersson, vice president of research and development for Sonic, in a statement.

Prices vary by location.

The Asiago Caesar Chicken Sandwich features chicken breast with sliced Asiago cheese and tomatoes on a whole-grain ciabatta bun. The Caesar dressing is based on an aioli that Petersson has developed.

The classic chicken sandwich features lettuce, tomatoes and a light mayo on a whole-grain ciabatta bun. The company said the classic grilled version has only 450 calories.

With these new menu items, Sonic joins a variety of quick-service restaurants that have beefed up their chicken offerings this fall. In September, for example, Burger King debuted a Fall Premium Chicken Menu, which it said was the largest chicken menu rollout in the chain’s history. It included a Chicken Parmesan Sandwich as well as popcorn chicken.

Even the “better-burger” segment has been adding chicken options. Smashburger in October began offering a Spinach & Goat Cheese Chicken Sandwich and a Crispy Buffalo Chicken Sandwich.

Menu expert Nancy Kruse identified increased chicken offerings as one of the top five menu newsmakers in her annual "State of the Plate" address at the MUFSO 2012 conference last month in Chicago. She even suggested that the "better chicken" trend could take over in a market saturated with better-burger concepts.

Sonic has more than 3,500 drive-ins in 43 states.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

Kick It Up a Notch

Hot, spicy menu items gaining popularity among diners.

Some like it hot. And some like it even hotter. Fiery dishes are heating up limited-service menus as operators increasingly recognize consumers’ growing interest in spicy, hot entrées.

A 2013 Consumer Flavor Trend Report by Chicago-based restaurant market research firm Technomic found that a majority of Americans (54 percent) now prefer hot or spicy foods, sauces, dips, and condiments. That’s up from 48 percent in 2011 and 46 percent in 2009.

“The demand for spicy foods has been trending upward, but the size of the increase this time was a little more than expected,” says Kelly Weikel, senior consumer research manager at Technomic. It shows in all dayparts, she adds.

The shift to tongue-tingling chile peppers and other hot and spicy items is led by Millennials and other adventurous diners seeking more robust flavors. The appeal of hot, spicy foods is highest—more than 60 percent—among 18–34-year-olds, although Technomic’s study found that a preference for hotter, spicier items rose among most age groups.

“Millennials like hot, spicy foods because of their experience with more ethnic foods, like Hispanic and Asian,” Weikel says.

During a recent six-month period, hot and spicy items expanded from being at half to three quarters of all quick-service and fast-casual restaurant locations, according to research from Food Genius, a Chicago-based market research firm.

“There are a lot of different influences behind this,” says Benjamin Stanley, vice president of product at Food Genius. “The main one is the general rise in ethnic foods and ethnic flavors.”

Among the most popular flavors in hot sauces are jalapeño, cayenne, and red chile peppers, Technomic found. Increasingly, however, lesser-known habaneros, anchos, Szechuan peppers, and sriracha are gaining fans.

“Before, we only used to see jalapeño, but now there are all types of chilies being used,” says Jay Scroggins, culinologist at sausage maker Johnsonville, of Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin. “I’ve been able to do a variety of recipes with peppers.”

That includes habanero-and-mango and chipotle-and-maple-syrup sausages. “We’re getting a lot of requests for heat and sweet,” he says. The company also does some regional favorites, such as Cajun andouille and Southwestern chorizo.

Food Genius research shows that the highest impact of spicy items on restaurant menus can be found in the South Central and East Central regions of the country.

“The large influence in the South Central is related to the growing Hispanic population,” as well as hot items popular around Louisiana, Stanley says. The East Central region is a little harder to explain, he says. “There’s just a lot of interest there.”

One reason may be that cayenne pepper–spiced chicken wings, created in Buffalo, New York, began to move across the country after a Buffalo native and his friend opened a small joint, Buffalo Wild Wings & Weck, in Columbus, Ohio, in 1982.

That single unit has grown into Buffalo Wild Wings and its more than 900 units. There are now thousands of chain and independent restaurants around the country serving chicken wings or pieces of chicken breast slathered in a wide variety of hot sauces.

Often, the hotter the sauce, the better. Wings restaurants give their sauces names like Blazin’, Atomic, and Homicide, or name their sauces for their heat-generating ingredients or style, like jalapeño, habanero, Caribbean jerk, Asian curry, and Louisiana rub.

“Customers have expanded their palate and want more choices,” says Eric Ruger, director of operations and marketing at Wings to Go and a franchisee for the 51-unit chain based in Millersville, Maryland. “Now there’s more fusion with spices and seasonings.”

At one time, the goal was to go even hotter, but now there’s more interest in different flavors, he says. Wings to Go’s Asian Fusion wings, for instance, are sweet at first, deliver a teriyaki taste after a few wings, and finish hot as the habanero builds heat.

Cayenne is also in the DNA at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. Cayenne and other peppers give zing to the Atlanta-based chain’s original chicken, created more than 40 years ago.

“It’s safe to say we use a blend of capsicum,” says Amy Alarcon, vice president of culinary innovation for the 2,150-unit chain. Bone-in chicken is marinated with a dry rub blend for at least 12 hours and then breaded, she says.

Popeyes’ sauces use various peppers, along with Cajun seasonings or Louisiana Hot Sauce, a popular cayenne pepper condiment also served at the restaurants. The chain also used Tabasco sauce in some earlier limited-time offerings.

One of its popular LTOs is Rip’n Chick’n. It’s a chicken breast, cut into pull-apart strips that can be ripped off, marinated in a hot blend of cayenne, habanero, and white and black peppers before being breaded, deep fried, and served with a dipping sauce.

“Hot food is all about the sensory experience,” Alarcon says. The Rip’n Chick’n “doesn’t hit you at first. It just keeps growing with so many unique characteristics.”

Wendy’s was one of the first burger restaurants to bring real heat to its menu, although that occurred in an indirect manner. The company has had chili on the menu from the beginning, but when the chain added a taco salad in the 1980s, customers began using the salad’s hot sauce in their chili. The company eventually decided to offer the condiment with the spicy stew.

By the 1990s, spokesman Denny Lynch says, guests were using the hot sauce on various other menu items, but particularly chicken sandwiches. That led to the launch of the Spicy Chicken sandwich, featuring cayenne and other spices in the breading.

Other restaurants created their own spicy chicken sandwiches, and several have turned up the heat. Last fall, Sonic developed a Spicy Classic Chicken sandwich, Island Fire chicken and cheeseburger entrées, and a Southwest Chipotle breakfast burrito.

“We wanted to add some spice,” says Claes Petersson, chef and vice president of product innovation at Sonic. At the same time, “we didn’t want to make it so spicy to scare people away.”

The chef says he dove into Sonic’s library of recipes and fine-tuned some for the new products. The breast meat in the spicy chicken sandwich, for instance, is spiced with a “Tabasco-ish marinade” that includes cayenne.

The Island Fire sandwiches have a sweet habanero sauce for an extra kick. “You always have guests who want more spices or who might think it’s too hot, but I really think we were able to find the right spices with this,” Petersson says.

Most diners expect hot and spicy when they visit a Mexican restaurant, since chile peppers are so much a part of that ethnic cuisine.

“We do chilies in just about everything,” says Ted Stoner, director of strategic product development at Qdoba Mexican Grill. “We use seven different chilies across our menu, and all but one of our sauces use jalapeños.” The one exception is the habanero sauce.

“Chilies serve a dual purpose,” Stoner says. Just as different chilies and spices have various levels of heat, they have a range of flavor profiles, he says.

Chipotles, which are smoke-dried jalapeños, provide smokiness, while anchos (dried poblanos) have more of a sweet, dried fruit quality. Qdoba also employs poblanos and dried California and New Mexico red peppers.

“It’s up to chefs to understand the nuances of these chilies to provide the most depth in flavor and how the flavor lingers,” Stoner says.

The chain’s ancho chile barbecue sauce, inspired by Mexican mole, includes several chilies, with flavors of hickory, mesquite, and chocolate. Qdoba’s salsas range from mild (traditional pico de gallo) to extra hot (habanero).

At TacoTime, the hottest item on the menuboard is the 5-Alarm Burrito, which uses the chain’s fiery 5-Alarm salsa made with red peppers and red chile paste. The sauce “has the perfect amount of burn,” says brand president Kevin Gingrich.

Early Asian influences on the U.S. palate came from Chinese restaurants that catered to tame American taste buds. More recently, however, the spicy flavors of China’s Szechuan province, Thailand, and other parts of Southeast Asia have come to the fore.

“It’s more of a flavor profile in the Asian community to have the heat,” says Geoff Alexander, vice president of the six-unit Wow Bao, part of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. “We do more heat than spice. Heat is more digestible on the palate.”

Wow Bao has two particularly hot baos and bowls, Spicy Kung Pao and Spicy Mongolian Beef, the latter being the second-biggest selling item across the chain’s six units. “People are looking for heat to heighten their meal experience,” he says.

Panda Express has also found that the demand for hotter dishes has increased, and it has a range of spicy items on the menu, including the sweet and mildly spicy Orange Chicken, its most popular dish. The Kung Pao chicken is slighter hotter because it is not sweet.

“Sugar cuts the power,” says Andy Kao, executive chef of product innovations for the 1,600-store company based in Rosemead, California. The company uses whole and crushed chile peppers, as well as ingredients like gochujang, a Korean condiment
with red chile.

In the fall, Panda Express launched Sriracha Shrimp as an LTO, with shrimp, string beans, bell peppers, and sriracha sauce.

Sriracha, a popular Thai-influenced sauce, is made from ground red chile peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. It has gained a fervent following for its bold flavor, and “a lot of people are jumping on the bandwagon,” says Food Genius’s Stanley.

“Sriracha has a bold tangy flavor and is very versatile, allowing its popularity to expand outside the Asian community and into the mainstream culinary world,” Panda Express’s Kao says.

Subway is also using a version of the sauce, having launched the Sriracha Chicken Melt and Sriracha Steak Melt in the fall as part of a Fiery Footlong Collection.

“We are looking at the food trends and are intrigued by the way different foods are changing in the world,” says Subway’s executive chef, Chris Martone. Sriracha is a “flavor trend, and we wanted to offer that.”

The sriracha melts feature a creamy sriracha sauce made with a number of chilies and garlic. The sandwiches also incorporate pepper jack cheese.

“The great thing about sriracha is there’s real flavor to it,” Martone says, adding that the Subway version is not shy on heat. “Sometimes with a chain our size, you look for a sweet spot to appeal to a broader audience. But this is hot. For our segment, this is aggressive.”

Sauce-maker Kikkoman USA also makes sriracha, with chilies cured by vinegar, garlic, and sugar. Its heat is “geared to the back half of the mouth,” says Debbie Carpenter, senior manager of national foodservice and marketing for Kikkoman.

The company, originally known for Japanese sauces, also has a sweet and spicy Thai chile sauce and developed a wasabi sauce made from the Japanese horseradish-like root.

“It’s not nearly as hot as a wasabi paste,” she says of Kikkoman’s sauce. “I showed it at a school event, dipping chicken in it. Some of the attendees said, ‘Oh, no, no, not wasabi.’ But I told them not to let the word scare them. This won’t grab your tongue.”

Dairy Queen's grilled cheese on Texas Toast is a secret for a reason

So, you're probably hitting Dairy Queen for a taste of their legendary fries, classic burgers, or ice cream in the form of those addictive Blizzards. But, we're privy to a little thing called: their secret menu.

This insider knowledge will expand your horizons to entirely new items from DQ, like the peanut butter and jelly shake as well as a slushy frozen hot chocolate. You can also order a grilled cheese, which isn't really a shocker since we know they have bread and cheese laying around in copious amounts.

For the Dairy Queen secret menu grilled cheese they actually use the Texas Toast that usually accompanies many of the restaurant's basket meals, like their chicken strips. The Texas Toast is loaded with cheese and then cooked, and while this sounds all well and dandy, what we've seen is nothing shortage of cheese blasphemy. The toast, in most cases, was far from crisp (actually soggy) and the cheese was only halfway melted through. This lackluster sandwich also packs an unwanted 14 grams of fat and 1,230 mg of sodium. Yikes! Stick to what you know, DQ.

White Castle

People love White Castle so much, there’s even a movie about two morons who embark on a crazy trip to the beloved fast food restaurant, so you better believe the restaurant has its own secret menu too! (Make sure you know these 33 secrets fast-food workers won't tell you.)

  • Chicken Parm Sliders: This secret menu item is more of a DIY creation. Get the fried chicken breast sliders with a side of mozzarella sticks then place two mozzarella sticks on each slider. Grab a little cup of marinara and nuke it in the microwave until all of the flavors have melted together.
  • Surf and Turf Sliders: This yummy item takes the best of both slider worlds! Just tell the cashier you want a slider with a piece of fried fish, a beef patty, and melted cheese.

Texas Chicken™ And Church's Texas Chicken™ Appoints New Leadership

ATLANTA , March 26, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Church's Chicken ® , the global quick-service restaurant chain and it's international sister brands Texas Chicken™ and Church's Texas Chicken™, recently announced two new appointments to the international leadership team. Seasoned restaurant executive Gregg Gallagher was named Vice President, Americas and Cinthia Nehring-Salm was promoted to Director, International Marketing. Both will report directly to Kevin Corning , EVP International Business.

"We are fortunate to have Gregg and Cinthia take on these new roles and look forward to working with them to grow our business," said Karen Viera , SVP and Global Chief People Officer for Church's Chicken. "I have confidence in their leadership and in the tremendous work being done by the collective regional leadership team."

Backed by more than 15 years of international restaurant executive experience, Gregg Gallagher joins Church's as the new Vice President, Americas. Most recently, Gallagher served as Senior Director, International Business Development at Inspire Brands, leading global development for Arby's, Buffalo Wild Wings, Sonic Drive-In, and Jimmy John's .

At Inspire Brands, Gallagher drove business growth through exceptional franchisee-client relations, negotiated mutually profitable deals, and excelled in cross-cultural sales. Prior to this, Gallagher spent two years at Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen as Director, International Business Development before being promoted to Head of Latin America and the Caribbean . During that time, Gallagher's full spectrum coordination of the new market launch brought Popeye's into Mexico , which included site selection, supply chain, construction management, training and on-site support.

In his new position, Gallagher will leverage his extensive expertise to serve as the leader driving sales through the planning, development, and execution of the Americas international growth strategy.

"Church's is well-known for its legacy of innovative leadership and I'm honored to join a brand that has such a strong international footprint," said Gallagher. "I look forward to contributing to the continued growth of the company by expanding its brand presence and building enhanced franchise relationships."

Cinthia Nehring-Salm

Cinthia Nehring-Salm recently served as Regional Marketing Manager for Church's, where she led the marketing planning and execution for the Americas. In this capacity, she represented 300 restaurants in the largest international region, encompassing Mexico , Puerto Rico , Canada , Honduras , Guyana , Trinidad and Tobago , St. Lucia , Curacao , and Venezuela . Nehring-Salm is a marketer with over 20 years of experience building major multi-national brands. As a brand builder, she has had the opportunity of working in three sides of marketing: Media, Brand, and Consulting which has giving her a unique vision for building brands.

During Nehring-Salm's more than five years with the brand, the Americas region generated strong and consistent comp sales growth. Her region delivered the strongest comp sales results in 2020, despite the global COVID-19 crisis. Her ability to be nimble and responsive early on with the pandemic, allowed her to generate a steady stream of engaging and well-crafted marketing materials to help the region's franchisees compete during these challenging times.

As Director, International Marketing, Nehring-Salm will be responsible for the design, coordination and direction of all international marketing initiatives for the development and growth of Church's Chicken internationally, with special focus on Asia , Latin America , and the Middle East / North Africa . She will work with Regional Field Directors, Regional Field Managers, and Regional Marketing Managers to analyze business trends and forecast sales. She will also be responsible for designing menu boards, creating marketing plans for entry into new countries, and developing annual marketing calendars, as well as a number of other marketing initiatives.

In addition to functionally reporting to Kevin Corning , EVP International Business, Nehring-Salm will link to the Global Marketing organization, led by Brian Gies , EVP and Global Chief Marketing Officer.

"Cinthia's experience and knowledge will be instrumental as we continue to expand our international business. She has consistently demonstrated her talents in the marketing space and we are very pleased to see her grow with the brand," Gies said.

Additional Promotions To International Leadership

Church's also recently announced the following promotions as they continue to grow their international presence.

Tamer El Sahn, Regional Franchise Director, of Europe , Middle East , and Africa (EMEA), has been promoted to Senior Director EMEA. In his new leadership role, Tamer will lead growth of the Texas Chicken brand across the EMEA region.

El Sahn joined the brand as Regional Marketing Manager in 2015 and was promoted to Sr. Regional Marketing Manager in 2019 and to Senior Director, Texas Chicken (EMEA) in 2020. He has worked closely with franchisees, assisted in the positive comp sales growth and expansion into new markets. El Sahn was also instrumental in the brand re-launch for Texas Chicken and Church's Chicken.

El Sahn's other notable achievements include the development of a 5-year growth strategy for the region led the in-region roll-out of Texas Chicken Mobile App successfully opened restaurants in new cities in recent months, e.g., Jeddah , Baghdad , and Karachi and successfully organized engagement platforms such as the Virtual Summit and Quarterly Newsletter.

Ghassan Freih has been promoted to Sr. Regional Franchise Manager for EMEA. Freih joined the brand in 2018 and supported the increase in the number of training restaurants to nine across the region. He successfully opened stores in Baghdad , Lahore and Karachi . Ghassan's new role will include Development and Profitability in addition to Operations and Training.

For the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, Albert Chan has been promoted to Senior Director APAC. In his new leadership role, Chan will lead growth of the Texas Chicken brand across the APAC region.

Chan joined the brand in 2016 as Regional Franchise Manager and was promoted to Senior Regional Franchise Manager (APAC) in 2019. He proved to be integral in leading franchise relations in Thailand , the fastest growing market in the world, and in supporting rapid-growth countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam .

Among Chan's significant accomplishments, he served as project leader for the Cambodia market entry and opened the first store in December 2020 with four more stores in the pipeline. He rolled out remote OER and supported the opening of more than 40+ new restaurants in the region throughout 2020.

"Over the past two years, our international market represented the strongest driver of growth," added Viera. "It is through our leadership that we have been able to achieve and maintain this trajectory. This new team alignment will allow us to better serve and support our franchise partners in these markets and stay the course to reach our shared goals."

Additional images available here.

About Church's Chicken® / Texas Chicken™/ Church's Texas Chicken™

Summer LTOs focus on providing healthful options

Shrimp, fish and smoothie enhancements are popular summer LTOs.

Summer is officially here, which means several restaurants have created LTOs specifically designed around celebrating summer and providing customers with a variety of healthy options. Below are just a few offerings that will be gone with the summer heat.

Uncle Maddio's adds strawberries

Uncle Maddio's Pizza has added a Strawberry Summer Salad to the menu, which will be available through the end of summer. It includes candied walnuts, goat cheese, fresh sliced strawberries, red onions and crispy bacon atop a bed of mixed greens and is tossed in a homemade white balsamic bacon vinaigrette and drizzled with a balsamic glaze.

"For those who crave something lighter during the hot summer months, our new Strawberry Salad is the perfect mix of sweet and savory," Matt Andrew, Uncle Maddio’s CEO said in a company press release. "Our salads are made fresh in-house every day and are always a great way to eat your veggies."

Robeks powers up smoothies

Robeks Fresh Juices and Smoothies is introducing a few summer menu items, including a superfood-powered smoothie with spirulina, flax seed and turmeric.

"We felt that with a change in the industry, especially as consumers are becoming more educated on various health attributes, we wanted to make sure that our product mix fit exactly what consumers were coming in our stores looking for," Robeks Director of Marketing Matt Furman said in a company press release.

Other alterations to the menu include new bowl offerings. Robeks President David Rawnsley, who is also a franchisee, recognized the benefit the larger and "easier to eat" bowls bring to the company's stores.

"We've seen tremendous growth in the bowl segment and worked to make sure our bowls met our customer's demands," he said.

Jason's Deli gets fishy

Jason's Deli has created the Salmon Pacifica Salad in accordance with the American Institute of Cancer Research and World Research Fund guidelines for cancer risk reduction.

At only 450 calories, the salad includes a combination of nutrient-rich ingredients, including wild-caught Alaska sockeye salmon served on USDA-certified organic field greens topped with fresh-chopped avocado, grape tomatoes, fire-roasted Piquillo peppers, cucumbers, pickled red onions and cucumber-dill vinaigrette, according to a company press release.

"Our alliance with Jason's Deli is based on our mutual interest in providing people with accessible and healthy dining options, especially promoting a diet that is largely plant-based and may have the potential to reduce the risk of cancer," said Dr. Therese Bevers, who is a professor of clinical cancer prevention at MD Anderson. "There are simple steps people can take to reduce the chances of a future cancer diagnosis."

The alliance was originally launched in 2013, after several Jason's Deli employees and their family members rebounded from cancer after MD Anderson treatment. Since then Jason's Deli has donated more than $726,000 to the world-renowned cancer center, according to the release.

"Everyone knows someone whose life has been touched by the disease, and the same is true for many of our employees and their families," said Joe Tortorice Jr., founder of Jason's Deli, in a news release. "It's the reason why we are deeply committed to supporting cancer prevention through high-quality, healthy menu options and to funding research that makes a life-giving difference for people today and for generations to come."

Bruegger's launches LTOs inspired by farmers' markets

Bruegger's Bagels is debuting summer menu items inspired by the fresh and vibrant flavors of local farmers' markets, according to a company press release.

Limited-time menu items include Prez Mez, made with spicy guacamole, a seasoned fresh-cracked egg, peppered bacon and Swiss cheese on a Pretzel Bagel and the Sweet Georgia Turkey Sandwich, which features seasoned tomatoes and spicy peach preserves on butter-toasted tomato basil bread.

The chain has also created the Coconut Iced Coffee.

All the summer menu items are available through Sept. 12.

Qdoba bets on shrimp

Qdoba Mexican Eats has added Fire-Roasted Shrimp to the menu in honor of summer, according to a company press release. Customers can try it one of the following ways:

  • Surf and Turf Burrito Bowl, which combines the shrimp with grilled steak layered on a bed of cilantro lime rice and topped off with black beans, lettuce, pico de gallo and freshly made chimichurri sauce.
  • Tropical Shrimp Taco with guacamole, house-made pineapple pico, lettuce and a sprinkle of Cotija cheese.
  • Fire-Roasted Shrimp Salad, which is tossed with sweetened pineapple pico, hand-smashed guacamole and cilantro lime dressing on a bed of lettuce served in a crunchy fried shell.

"Our new Fire-Roasted Shrimp adds a sprinkle of summer to the menu," said Jeffrey Van Hanswyk director of culinary and menu innovation. "Matching citrus with chili pepper flavors, our chefs developed these three recipes to perfectly complement this craveable protein."

Qdoba's Fire-Roasted Shrimp

Wildflower Bread Company gets fresh

Wildflower Bread Company is highlighting the fresh flavors of summer with several LTOs.

"Our summer menu highlights fresh, simple ingredients that celebrate the flavors of summer," Lacey Hudgins, director of product development, said in a company press release. "We continue to seek out elevated, unique ingredients that will surprise and delight our guests, the wild Alaskan salmon, tender pea shoots, and beautiful watermelon radish are standouts. Along with introducing exciting new flavors, we brought back a guest favorite, the Ultimate Bacon & Egg Sandwich."

  • Salmon BLT&E Sandwich, seared wild Alaskan salmon, sunny egg, feta cheese, pepper aioli, fresh basil and tomatoes on grilled brioche with a side of mixed chips.
  • Summer Garden Salad, combines locally grown, organic pea shoots, watermelon radish, field greens, feta, scallions, toasted sunflower seeds and avocado tossed with lemon citrus dressing.
  • Spicy Lemon Penne Pasta, sautéed chicken breast, garlic, hot peppers, fresh tomatoes, spinach, pea shoots, scallions, petite peas, basil and feta in a lemon vegetable sauce.
  • The Ultimate Bacon & Egg Sandwich, includes bacon, scrambled eggs and cheddar cheese with slow-roasted tomatoes, arugula and pesto on a grilled brioche roll.

Cowboy Chicken creates summer offerings

Cowboy Chicken is gearing up for the season with a scorching-hot lineup of new sandwiches, sides and salads, Sean Kennedy, president and CEO of Cowboy, said in a company press release.

Leading the charge is a pair of Texas-sized sandwiches, the Laredo with rotisserie chicken breast topped with house-made guacamole, chipotle mayo, seasoned chicken cracklins and melted cheese on a toasted bun. The BBQ chicken sandwich comes with pulled chicken slathered with Cowboy Chicken’s BBQ sauce and melted cheese, also served on a toasted bun.

Guests can complement the sandwiches with a pair of sides newly added to the regular menu. The roasted veggies side boasts a skillet filled with cauliflower, broccoli, red onion and carrots, while the Kaleblazer slaw is a mix of kale, Brussels sprouts, Napa cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, radicchio, cranberries and slivered almonds, drizzled with a blush wine vinaigrette, according to the release.

Guests can also order watermelon slices as a side or try watermelon tea.

Lastly, the chain is also sevrving a couple new salads, including the Monterey, the Southwest chicken salad, the West Texas Caesar, the tangy tomato and cucumber and the fresh and the a garden salad.

Cousins says cheese

Cousins Subs has created the' "Big Cheese" sub, featuring chicken or steak fresh off the grill topped with bacon, sautéed onions, Wisconsin cheddar cheese, sharp cheese sauce made locally and the sub shop's Wisconsin Cheese Curds.

"This June marks Cousins' 45 years of serving Wisconsinites, and we wanted to bring festival goers a sub rich in local flavor that is both commemorative of our heritage and unique for Summerfest's 50th," Justin McCoy, vp of marketing at Cousins Subs, said in a company press release. "We encourage everyone to sink their teeth into indulgence and celebrate all that makes Wisconsin's food culture iconic."

Watermelon Berry returns to Project Juice

Project Juice, which specializes in cold-pressed juice, has brought back its Watermelon Berry blend for the summer and is also promoting food sustainability with the use of 50 percent "ugly" produce, according to a company press release.

Project Juice's Watermelon Berryblend

"We are excited to bring back this fan-favorite juice for the summer season," Project Juice Co-founder Marra St. Clair said in the release. "It is the most delicious combo of the season's flavors and delivers amazing hydration for hot days."

Watermelon Berry is made with watermelon, strawberries, green apple, Young Coconut Water and lime.

Au Bon Pain testing lobster, Mediterranean chicken

The culinary team at Au Bon Pain has created a few seasonal recipes in hopes of giving customers a reprieve from the heat, according to a company press release. They include:

  • Lobster Sandwich, lobster mixed with the ABP signature herb blend and served on a freshly baked buttery croissant.
  • Herb Chicken Salad Sandwich, which features antibiotic-free chicken mixed with the ABP herb blend and avocado dressing, topped with cucumbers, shredded carrots, tomatoes and field greens and served on a toasted semolina baguette. The Herb Chicken Salad is also now available on a fresh roll and side salad in a Bon To Go box. Bon to Go boxes are healthy and convenient go-to items for snack time or to make a small meal. Most of these newly introduced items have 12 grams or more of protein and 390 or fewer calories, according to the release.
  • Mediterranean Chicken & Tabouli Salad, combines chicken, romaine, spinach, tabouli, chickpea tomato salad, feta cheese, kalamata olives, cucumbers, shredded carrots, grape tomatoes and lemon shallot vinaigrette.
  • New desserts, including Lemon Blueberry Muffin and a Peach Danish

"At Au Bon Pain, every season brings a new opportunity for inspiration and the creation of delicious recipes. I love the lightness and brightness of summer and wanted to bring those tones into our new items," said Corporate Executive Chef Katherine See, in a news release. "In keeping with our commitment to being a true food innovator, each of these dishes has passed our rigorous internal development process. And as with our entire menu, every item is sliced, cut, baked and hand-made fresh daily in each café to ensure the highest-quality meal possible for our guests."

The summer menu is available through Aug. 28.

Togo's talks turkey

Togo's Eateries has created "The Best Turkey Sandwiches Ever,"oven-roasted, deli-style turkey breast(s) hand-sliced daily and piled with a quarter-pound of turkey, according to a company press release.

The classic No. 3 Turkey & Cheese and the iconic No. 24 Turkey & Avocado have been transformed to further enhance the flavor of the sandwich, according to the release. Togo's will now place the turkey on top of the produce, rather than underneath it, so the turkey flavor is the first thing that customers taste when they enjoy their sandwich, said Glenn Lunde, president of Togo's

"Togo's has been famous for its big, fresh and meaty turkey sandwiches for over 45 years. We set out to provide our customers the best turkey sandwiches ever, starting with even better ingredients and bigger portions," he said in the release. "But we also wanted to do something more creative to further intensify the turkey flavor, and that is why we changed the fundamental way we build our sandwiches."

Customers will also find a dramatically improved in-store experience with an entirely new menu board, Lunde said.

Yogurtland embraces nostalgia with summer offerings

Yogurtland has debuted five scratch-made flavors reminiscent of family outings and warm summer nights, according to a company press release.

The flavors, available from June 5 to August 6, are:

  • Home Grown Watermelon Sorbet
  • Sun Kissed Strawberry Shortcake
  • Sweet n' Smooth Peaches and Cream Gelato
  • Larger Than Life Mud Pie
  • Picnic Favorite Apricot Mango Tart

"Our fans visit Yogurtland to enjoy and celebrate life's special moments. The personalized experience lets fans craft their ultimate treat and choose the flavors and toppings they are craving. We are especially excited to introduce Watermelon Sorbet, a flavor our fans have been craving for some time," said Chad Bailey, senior director of marketing and R&D at Yogurtland in a company press release.

Boston Market answers the call for a healthier chicken strip

In hopes of giving customers a healthier option when it comes to chicken strips, Boston Market now through Aug. 13 is serving oven-crisp chicken strips. According to a company press release, the all-white meat is hand-breaded and baked — not fried — for a healthier, crispier crunch.

According to a survey conducted by Boston Market, 71 percent of parents said that chicken is a favorite food among their children during the summer, more than cookies (56 percent) and even cake or pie (45 percent). But, children aren't alone on that front as one quarter of all U.S. adults say that if they were ever stranded on a desert island, they would most crave chicken. In fact, 83 percent of adults said they experience food cravings in a typical week, and 72 percent say they will seek out something crispy to satisfy those cravings.

Answering that "crispy call" this summer, Boston Market is rolling out a "No Fry Friday" program this month where guests can enjoy different deals on Oven-Crisp Chicken Strips each Friday from June 9 to June 30.

"With nearly half of Americans preferring baked over fried foods, we're excited to introduce Oven-Crisp Chicken Strips as a new way for guests to enjoy the better-for-you crunch they crave," said Boston Market CEO George Michel, also known as "The Big Chicken," said in a news release. "Last year Oven Crisp Chicken was an instant hit among our guests and we're eager to hear what they think of our new Oven-Crisp Chicken Strip varieties."

Rubio' expands seafood offerings with wild grouper

Rubio's Restaurants has added wild grouper to its summer menu. Developed by co-founder Ralph Rubio and the culinary team, Rubio's Wild Grouper dish comes with grilled or house-blackened wild grouper served on a flour tortilla which is then topped with mango salsa, cabbage, chipotle white sauce, and handmade guacamole made with Hass avocados, cilantro, lime and sea salt.

"We take pride in offering chef-crafted tacos and burritos that feature innovative flavors and quality ingredients. Our Wild Grouper with Mango Salsa is a great example of this with its sweet and tangy flavors that add a nice tropical complement to the fish." said Rubio said in a company press release. "We chose wild grouper for its mild flavor and firm texture, and because of its popularity in Florida. We're excited to add this quality fish to our seafood menu, and hope our guests enjoy it all summer long."

The company recently announced it has also removed artificial flavors and food coloring from artificial sources from its core menu.

Cherryh Cansler

Cherryh Cansler is VP of Editorial for Networld Media Group and senior editor of She has been covering the restaurant industry since 2012. Her byline has appeared in Forbes, The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine, among many others.

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Burger King expands chicken offerings

Burger King is angling for a larger chunk of those popular QSR chicken options today by launching Crispy Chicken Tenders at restaurants nationwide. The tenders, made with whole-muscle white meat chicken, contain no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, a news release said.

The homestyle-breaded and fried chicken comes with the chain's dipping sauces.

"The Crispy Chicken Sandwich we introduced last year took the chicken category by storm, so we know our new Crispy Chicken Tenders will hit a sweet spot for our guests," Burger King North America President Christopher Finazzo, said in the release.

To celebrate the launch, Grubhub is offering a free four-piece order when guests order at least $10 from the brand's BK Products beginning next Tuesday, Sept. 25 through midnight Sept. 30.

Tenders are available for $2.49 for two pieces and $4.49 for four pieces or as part of the two for $6 Mix or Match promotion alongside the Whopper, crispy chicken and spicy chicken sandwiches as an LTO. Dipping sauces include BBQ, Honey Mustard, Ranch, Zesty, Buffalo and Sweet & Sour.

Burger King has about 15,000 locations.

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Popeyes was founded in Arabi, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans in St. Bernard Parish. It first opened its doors on June 12, 1972, as "Chicken on the Run". [4] [10] Owner Al Copeland wanted to compete with Kentucky Fried Chicken, [11] but his restaurant failed after several months. [4] [11] Copeland reopened the restaurant four days later as Popeyes Mighty Good Chicken. [11] By 1975, the company had been renamed as Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken. [11] Copeland started franchising his restaurant in 1976, beginning in Louisiana. The chain expanded to Canada in 1984, and opened its 500th restaurant in 1985. [4] B.P. Newman of Laredo, Texas, acquired several franchises in Texas and surrounding states. Two hundred additional locations were added during a period of slower expansion. [ citation needed ]

By 1990, Copeland Enterprises was in default on $391 million in debts it had taken on in its 1989 purchase of Church's, and in April 1991, the company filed for bankruptcy protection. [12] [13] In October 1992, the court approved a plan by a group of Copeland's creditors that resulted in the creation of America's Favorite Chicken Company, Inc. (AFC) to serve as the new parent company for Popeyes and Church's, another fast food chain specializing in chicken. [14] AFC went public in 2001 with initial public offering (IPO) of $142,818,479. [15] On December 29, 2004, AFC sold Church's to Arcapita (formerly Crescent Capital Investments) retaining Popeyes. [ citation needed ]

On August 8, 2000 Popeyes announced a franchise development plan/agreement that included 35 new restaurant locations around Australia in a bid to solidify their presence within the Asia Pacific region. All were to be located in the capital city of NSW, Sydney. [16]

On June 17, 2014, Popeyes announced it had re-acquired full control of its seasonings, recipes, and other proprietary food preparation techniques from Diversified Foods & Seasonings, which remained under the control of Al Copeland and his estate after the creditor sale of Popeyes to AFC. Popeyes had continued to license the seasonings, recipes, and techniques from DF&S for a yearly 'spice royalty', before buying them outright for $43 million. DF&S remains the main supplier for Popeyes until at least 2029. [17]

As of 2018 [update] , Popeyes has 3,102 restaurants worldwide. [5] [2]

Name Edit

Alvin C. Copeland claimed he named the stores after the fictional detective Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle in the 1971 film The French Connection, [18] [19] , which came out a year before the chain was founded, and not the comic strip character Popeye the Sailor. [20] The company's early brand became deeply tied to the cartoon star with its sponsorship of the Popeye & Pals children's show in New Orleans, and the character appeared on items from packaging to racing boats. [ citation needed ] The name is spelled "Popeyes", without the apostrophe commonly used by other restaurant chains such as McDonald's and Hardee's. Copeland claimed facetiously that he was "too poor" to afford an apostrophe. [18]

The chain later acquired rights to use Popeye the Sailor for marketing and used this for 35 years. [20] In late November 2006, AFC announced the mutual termination of their licensing contract with King Features Syndicate, effectively ending their association with the Popeye characters. [21]

Acquisition by Restaurant Brands International Edit

On February 21, 2017, Restaurant Brands International announced a deal to buy Popeyes for US$1.8 billion. [22] On March 27, 2017, the deal closed with RBI purchasing Popeyes at $79 per share via Orange, Inc, an indirect subsidiary of RBI. [23]

Popeyes serves chicken dishes in mild and spicy flavors and offers sides such as red beans and rice, Cajun fries, mashed potatoes with Cajun-style gravy, Cajun rice, macaroni & cheese, biscuits, and coleslaw. In addition to chicken, Popeyes also serves fish and shrimp entrées. [24] On October 30, 2006, AFC announced that Popeyes planned to introduce a trans fat-free biscuit as well as french fries containing one gram of trans fat by year-end. [25] On November 18, 2011, AFC announced that, for the Thanksgiving holiday, Popeyes would release a Fried Turducken sandwich that would show off the first ever Turducken patty. On July 29, 2013, AFC began offering a special entree of fried chicken strips dipped in waffle batter, which was already a proven success in some markets. [26] For a limited time only in 2017, Popeyes offered "Sweet and Crunchy" chicken, fried chicken tenders coated in shortbread cookie breading. [27] In 2021, Popeye’s introduced a flounder sandwich. [28]

Chicken sandwich Edit

Popeyes began selling a chicken sandwich in August 2019 to compete with Chick-fil-A's similar sandwich. The company first launched the sandwich at Los Angeles restaurant Sweet Dixie Kitchen, a locally-famous spot that had become known for reselling fried chicken that it had purchased at Popeyes. [29] [30] The sandwich launched nationwide to all locations in the U.S on August 12, 2019, but had some advanced openings at the beginning of 2019. [29]

The marketing campaign, designed by advertising agency GSD&M started on August 12, 2019 at 7:32pm with a tweet on Popeyes' Twitter feed. The new sandwich went viral immediately and prompted responses from nearly every fast food chain including McDonald's, Chick-Fil-A, and Wendy's. [31] [32] Popeyes reported a 103% increase in traffic in the days following the launch of the sandwich. [33] The sandwich helped Popeyes gather an estimated $23 million in free publicity since its launch. [34] Popeyes stores were routinely hit with long lines and often selling out of the sandwich. [35] Locations across the US were supposed to have enough materials to last them until the end of September. Instead, restaurants were almost entirely sold out after less than two weeks. [36] On August 27, approximately two weeks after the launch, Popeyes announced that it had officially sold out of the chicken sandwich across the country. [37] One person in Tennessee sued Popeyes, claiming that his inability to get the sandwich has caused him to be "hustled out of money", making Popeyes guilty of "false advertising" along with "deceptive business practices". [38] On October 25, 2019, Popeyes announced that the chicken sandwich would return to locations across the US on November 3. [39]

Popeyes chicken sandwich is made of buttermilk-battered white meat on a brioche bun along with pickles and mayonnaise or spicy Cajun spread. [40] A single sandwich contains 700 calories, 42 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 trans fat, 1443 milligrams of sodium, and 28 net grams of protein. [41]

In September 2020, Popeyes' chicken sandwich went on sale in Canada. [42]

The restaurants' exteriors have a distinctive red-and-yellow color scheme. The original locations had a black lava rock exterior with a red shingled roof. Most older locations have covered the rock exterior to conform with the current yellow stucco appearance. During the 1970s and 1980s, the company occasionally licensed characters from the Popeye comic strip to use in its advertising. TV and radio ads often use New Orleans-style music, along with the trademark "Love That Chicken" jingle [43] sung by New Orleans funk and R&B musician Dr. John.

In 2009, Popeyes introduced "Annie the Chicken Queen", a fictitious, upbeat, African-American Popeyes chef. The character is meant to be "honest, vibrant, youthful and authentic" according to Dick Lynch, Popeyes Chief Marketing Officer. "Everyone has a relative or a good friend who will give it to them straight, and that's what the Annie is all about", Lynch said. [44]

Popeyes has sponsored various NASCAR drivers since 2000. That year, NASCAR Busch Series driver Rich Bickle was sponsored by the company for six races, [45] [46] while Mark McFarland received a one-race deal in the same series the following season. [47] In March 2018, Tyler Matthews made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut in the No. 99 Popeyes truck at Martinsville Speedway, [48] and the company also sponsored Brennan Poole and Vizion Motorsports for that year's Truck Series season finale at Homestead–Miami Speedway. [49]

Popeyes maintains a "Hall of Fame" of its franchise holders. Some international franchises, such as the ones located in Germany, France, and Japan, are located only on U.S. military installations and are generally not accessible to the local civilian public. Popeyes opened the first store in China on May 15, 2020 [50] and on March 2021, it announced plans to open stores in Mexico [51] and the United Kingdom. [52] Restaurant Brands International signed a master franchise and development agreement with Indian company Jubilant FoodWorks on March 24, 2021, to operate Popeyes restaurants in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. [53] [54]

Year United States Canada Outside the United States and Canada Company-owned
2003 1,324 20 320 95
2004 1,382 28 347 67
2005 1,427 28 315 56
2006 1,459 31 306 50
2007 1,507 34 276 61
2008 1,527 39 301 55
2009 1,539 42 325 37
2010 1,533 42 333 37
Source: [55]

In December, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Popeyes announced that it will be closing all locations in South Korea, 26 years after the first store opened in Seoul in 1994. [56] [57]

7. Fatburger

Though you may not actually get fat from eating just one, you certainly could after eating too many Fatburgers -- something not hard to do.

The first Fatburger, originally called Mr. Fatburger, was founded in 1947 by Lovie Yancey and a partner in Los Angeles. The three-stool hamburger stand offered fresh burgers, cooked to order. In 1952, Yancey parted ways with her partner and changed the name to just Fatburger. Today, it has expanded to include other menu items like sandwiches, salads, fries and onion rings.

Since it began franchising in 1990, the company has more than 200 locations and is ranked as No. 287 on Entrepreneur&rsquos Franchise 500 list.

Erbert & Gerbert&rsquos is introducing The Wurst Sandwiches, two new limited-time-only offerings made with Johnsonville Bratwurst.

&lsquoDa Beer Cheese Brat-wich is made with sliced Johnsonville brats topped with beer cheese soup, jalapeño peppers and onions. The sandwich is served with a small cup of beer cheese soup for dipping.

The Bacon Butcher Brat-wich features sliced Johnsonville brats topped with peppadew mustard, bacon, pickles and lettuce.

Watch the video: Sonic Classic Chicken Slinger Review! . NEW CHICKEN SLINGERS!


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