1. A new kind of pizza pie?
From the chain that created Italian pot pies comes a new iteration of Italian comfort food being pushed to the limit: deep-dish spaghetti pie. Olive Garden’s new offering, which comes in two varieties—meatball and chicken Alfredo—features a thick crust made with spaghetti, bacon and seven types of cheese. Each version is topped with its own respective sauce.
2. Burger of note
Burger 21’s latest burger of the month pulls double duty: potential sales driver and unconventional homage to music legend Bob Marley. While the Marley Meltdown—a jerk-seasoned chicken burger topped with plantain chips, Monterey Jack cheese, Caribbean ketchup and mango salsa—may not quite transport customers to the islands, it sure is cheaper than a plane ticket.
3. Batter up
As summer fair season nears, White Castle offers diners a new way to enjoy the quintessential corn dog—as a meal add-on. The chain’s Corn Dog Nibblers are made with chicken instead of the traditional beef, and are sold by the “sack.” The LTO, which had a stint on the chain's menu last year, also comes in a mac and cheese variety made with cheddar batter.
4. Hammin’ it up
The newest creation from Hardee’s merges the hamburger with a close cousin, the ham and cheese sandwich. The chain's Grilled Ham ‘n’ Cheese Thickburger—which features two kinds of cheese, sliced ham, mayonnaise and mustard atop a hamburger patty—is available in three sizes and sells for a starting price of $3.79 (or $5.79 as part of a combo meal).
5. A hole new approach
For those who wish bagels came in more configurations than whole or cut in half, Einstein Bros. has their back. The chain recently debuted its Twist n’ Dip Bagel, which can be easy pulled apart into six dippable sections. The Twist n’ Dip comes with customers’ choice of two schmears.
6. Stokin’ hot
Step aside, wood-fire ovens, Pizza Hut has another type of smoke in mind: that from a campfire. The chain has doubled down on dessert with its new Toasted S’mores Cookie, a riff on its Chocolate Chip Cookie featuring mini marshmallows, chocolate bar chunks and graham cracker pieces. The limited-time item sells for $6.99.
Some of the more senior members of the team smile at the junior staff who are excited to uncover an interesting trend in “eatertainment” or the latest single-ingredient concept. We try not to be condescending when we suggest they do some research by looking at past issues of Restaurant Business or old Technomic top chain reports before calling it the next big thing.