Archive for January, 2010

Newly-Hired Executives Bring Fresh Ideas to Johnny Rockets

January 25, 2010
The Houston

Image courtesy Johnny Rockets Group

Last week, Johnny Rockets appointed a new President & CEO, as well as a new SVP of Marketing.  Within that time, the two new executives have announced three new location concepts for the franchise, plus two menu additions.

New York Times reports that John Fuller and Tim Hackbardt, respectively, both attended Thursday’s opening of the two-story Johnny Rockets Sports Lounge in New York City.  In an official news release, the company describes the location as “a prototype” of the chain’s “newest concept.”  Johnny Rockets Sports Lounge trades in the restaurant’s famous 1950’s diner theme and replaces it with a modern, sports bar look.  The menu remains the same, however, focusing on American standards like hamburgers, hot dogs and sandwiches (albeit with new twists, like milkshake-and-mixed-drink hybrids).

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Moe’s Southwest Grill Introduces Whole Grain Tortilla

January 16, 2010
Moe's Southwest Grill Homewrecker Burrito

Image courtesy FOCUS Brands, Inc.

Moe’s Southwest Grill announced last week that it has added a second tortilla variation, one made from whole grain flour, to pair with its selection of humorously named Tex-Mex menu options.

The nearly ten-year-old fast casual chain offers burritos, tacos, quesadillas and other Mexican-influenced dishes in several basic ingredient combinations, but allows diners to completely customize their orders by adding or subtracting from a list of twenty-five different options, including numerous kinds of meat, beans, vegetables, and sauces.  In addition, customers can also choose whether they want their entrée traditionally wrapped with a tortilla or as a salad-style bowl.

With its whole grain tortilla, the restaurant has added yet another alternative, one that Dan Barash, Director of Research and Development for the chain, says “takes [Moe’s] healthy offerings to the next level.”  In a news release issued about the new tortilla, Barash notes the higher vitamin and mineral content of whole grain foods, as compared to similar products made from refined grain.  Clearly, whole grain does have its health benefits, but will whole grain tortillas make Moe’s a more suitable choice for the diet-conscious?

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Chick-fil-A to Open 78 Stores, Give Away Nearly Half a Million Meals in 2010

January 12, 2010
Chick-fil-A "First 100"

Image courtesy Chick-fil-A, Inc.

Chick-fil-A announced plans on Tuesday to continue its much-anticipated “First 100” promotion well into the new year, promising to give almost 10,000 customers free Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich combo meals in upcoming months.

The inaugural “First 100” took place in Arizona in 2003.  Since then, the promotion has evolved into an honored tradition for the 42-year-old chicken-based fast food chain.  Numerous times, company President and COO Dan T. Cathy even makes an appearance.  According to the company’s website, now every new store opening kicks off with a “First 100” celebration, during which 100 customers receive “a free, year’s supply of Chick-fil-A.”

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Whataburger Celebrates First Annual Free Jalapeño Week

January 11, 2010
Whataburger Free Jalapeño Week

Image courtesy Whataburger Restaurants, LP

Whataburger has created a new holiday for its latest promotion, during which customers can add jalapeños to any entrée for free.

During Free Jalapeño Week, the Southwestern-U.S. hamburger chain will forgo the $0.45 charge it usually assesses customers who want to top their Whataburger or breakfast Taquito with the green chili pepper.  Also as part of the event, on Tuesday, eight different locations will host firefighters and police officers as they take part in jalapeño-eating contests for charity.  A press release issued by the restaurant claims that $8,000 in all will go to a number of different charities.

Free Jalapeño Week comes on the heels of several unique promotions.  Last November, Whataburger hosted “Orange Night Out,” on which customers who entered participating restaurants sporting the company’s trademark color received a free hamburger.  Later in the winter, the chain reduced the price of its Taquitos and also hosted twelve separate giveaways for its email subscribers.

Whataburger celebrates its 60th Anniversary this summer.  Free Jalapeño Week begins today and ends January 17.

[SOURCE]

[Whataburger Serves]

P.F. Chang’s Debuts Happy Hour Menu

January 11, 2010
P.F. Chang's China Bistro

Image courtesy P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Inc.

P.F. Chang’s China Bistro now offers some of its most popular appetizers and drinks at a discounted price during the afternoon.  The American Chinese restaurant unveiled its 33-item Happy Hour menu last week and will continue the special offer at participating locations indefinitely.

Succinctly described on its website as the “$3PM – $6PM Happy Hour,” the discounted menu lasts for three hours between lunch and dinner and has a price range spanning all of three dollars.  Like most happy hour offers, the choices at P.F. Chang’s include much sought-after mixed drinks in smaller glasses and reduced-sized portions of the chain’s highly celebrated, signature appetizers like Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps and Dynamite Shrimp.  Unlike the majority of casual dining afternoon specials, however, the “$3PM – $6PM Happy Hour” can be enjoyed in the dining room (in addition to the bar area) and lasts seven days a week.

Along with its happy hour menu, P.F. Chang’s also recently released a new kids’ menu, now available at all locations.

[SOURCE]

[P.F. Chang’s China Bistro on Twitter]

Zaxby’s Debuts New Commercial for Its Kickin’ Chicken Sandwich Meal

January 10, 2010
Zaxby's Kickin' Chicken Sandwich Meal

Image courtesy Zaxby's

Zaxby’s employs Pro Football Hall of Famer and NFL analyst Terry Bradshaw in its latest television commercials touting the popular Kickin’ Chicken Sandwich.

Though primarily known for its chicken wings and unique dipping sauces, in recent years, the fast-casual chicken chain has heavily promoted the Kickin’ Chicken Sandwich in its advertising campaigns.  In a news release announcing the Bradshaw-centered spots, Zaxby’s CEO and co-founder Zach McLeroy describes the sandwich — a mix of  several of the restaurant’s staples, including fried chicken strips, Tongue Torch buffalo wing sauce and Texas toast — as his favorite menu offering and one that “truly represents Zaxby’s and [its] menu attitude.”

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Blimpie Promotes New Lower-Calorie Sandwiches

January 7, 2010
Blimpie Sub Sandwiches

Image courtesy Blimpie Sub Sandwiches

Blimpie unveiled a new lineup of six-inch sub sandwiches that all contain 400 calories or less.

Touting the selections as a perfect complement to New Year’s Resolutions centered on weight-loss, Blimpie unveiled the menu via an announcement on Franchising.com. The menu continues the submarine sandwich chain’s recent trend of simply following in the footsteps of its biggest competitors, Subway and Quizno’s.  Not only does the Blimpie collection bear a striking resemblance to the “7 Subs with 6 Grams of Fat or Less” labeled as Jared’s Favorites on Subway’s menu, but it also comprises individual offerings that mirror Subway menu choices.  In the announcement, Blimpie mentions its Signature Club, as well as its turkey, roast beef, and chicken teriyaki sandwiches — all varieties found in Jared’s Favorites.  Blimpie also recently began offering footlong sandwiches for $5, directly adopting Subway’s most popular promotion.

Arizona-based Blimpie Sub Sandwiches currently offers its lower-calorie sandwiches at all of its nearly 1,000 restaurants nationwide.

[SOURCE]

[Blimpie Sub Sandwiches]

PETA Petitions for Fire Hydrant Ads in Duel with KFC

January 7, 2010

KFC Places Ads for Fiery Grilled Wings on Fire Hydrants

Photo by Brian Bohannon, courtesy BusinessWire

Animal activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has asked for permission to place anti-KFC advertisements on Indianapolis, IN fire hydrants.

USA Today earlier reported that the mayor of the Midwestern-U.S. city entered into a non-traditional agreement with KFC that allows the restaurant to place ads for its new Fiery Grilled Wings on city-owned fire hydrants.  In a press release, Tracy Reiman, Executive Vice President of PETA, claims to have matched the fast food chain’s offer of $7,500 for one month of advertising.

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El Pollo Loco Adds Sirloin Steak to Menu

January 7, 2010
El Pollo Loco Grilled Steak

Photo courtesy BusinessWire

El Pollo Loco expands its menu this weekend to include four new items containing grilled steak.

In a press release, El Pollo Loco CEO Steve Carley implies that the chain’s steak will borrow its recipe from the chicken with which it now shares a home, describing his sirloin strips as “deeply marinated in a signature blend of citrus, garlic, herbs and spices.”  In fact, each of the new products appears to have a direct, chicken counterpart — most notably, the marquee Grillmaster Steak Taco and Sirloin Steak Bowl, which look like carne asada versions of the Chicken Soft Taco and the Ultimate Pollo Bowl, respectively.

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IHOP Unveils Two Free Pancake Promotions

January 4, 2010
IHOP All You Can Eat Pancakes

Image courtesy International House of Pancakes, LLC

IHOP resumes its All You Can Eat Pancakes deal this week, offering customers unlimited short stacks along with a complete breakfast starting at $4.99.

According to a news release issued Monday, the deal includes two pancakes to start, plus two eggs; two pieces of either ham, sausage, or bacon; and hash browns.  Also included in the price are an endless supply of additional pancakes, brought three at a time.

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