Chicken tenders appear on 40 percent of casual-dining menus, according to market researcher Food Genius. Logan’s Roadhouse was intent on separating from the pack with a chicken-tender alternative, says David Spirito, VP of food and beverage. “We also wanted a shareable item that worked for happy hour, late night and as a dinner appetizer.” The result: Pork Fries, a new LTO.
Making the cut
The dish starts with a 6-ounce boneless pork chop—a SKU Logan’s already carries for one of its top-selling entrees, Mesquite Wood-Grilled Pork Chops. Sliced into strips, the chop’s firm texture and juiciness hold up well under deep-frying. Spirito also tried pork belly and beef, but these didn’t “capture the inspiration we wanted,” and food costs were higher for those meats, he says.
Coat to taste
Feedback from loyalty-club members revealed that guests enjoy Logan’s hand-breaded chicken and fish—and sales back up these findings. Spirito prepares the pork in a similar manner, first dipping the strips in fry batter. But he changes up the coating, using a proprietary seasoned flour specked with black pepper and garlic to match the more assertive pork flavor.
Logan’s Roadhouse Ranch, the chain’s housemade signature dressing, is the base for the dipping sauce. As a variation, Spirito blends in chopped cilantro and additional spices. “The R&D team is constantly tweaking existing items to keep up with the trends,” he says, gathering ideas from dine-arounds to other cities and customer requests.
When Logan’s promoted the LTO with a photo on Twitter, it garnered hundreds of retweets, with comments such as “I love the chicken tenders, would love to try the pork fries.” Along with the social media push, Logan’s is positioning the item as a crossover between a french fry and chicken tender in a presentation that plays up a shared bar snack—all with the goal of reaching new and younger guests.
Cocktails are an increasingly competitive category in casual dining, so Logan’s is keeping its focus on the bar. While its moonshine-spiked drinks are a differentiator, Spirito’s team is “tweaking and developing new beverages to better deliver on guest expectations,” he says.