While Valentine’s Day might be the biggest night for restaurants in February, that’s not the only time operators roll out special menus during the winter months. Plenty of operators plan seafood LTOs to align with the occurrence of Lent. This year, Lent takes place from February 14 to March 31, and it’s the perfect opportunity for restaurants to take advantage of the tendency for consumers to eat more fish.
Those who participate in Lent may not follow all religious guidelines to a T, but in general, avoiding meat on Fridays and instead eating fish or seafood is one that’s commonly upheld. With that in mind, operators can look to Lent as not a time of fasting or restriction, but one where branching out from the norm and offering unique seafood options can be an area of opportunity.
Here are four tips for putting seafood on the menu successfully and standing out from the crowd during Lent.
Elevate standard offerings with tasty upgrades
Consumers are familiar with standard dishes such as fish sandwiches or fish and chips. Upgrading them, however, can be a way to attract diners to come back to these seafood favorites.
For example, Arby’s King’s Hawaiian Fish Deluxe swaps standard buns with Hawaiian bread buns, while its Nashville Hot Fish sandwich spices things up with Nashville hot seasoning and a savory Parmesan Peppercorn Ranch sauce. For customers who can’t decide (or don’t want to), Arby’s offers its King’s Hawaiian Nashville Hot Fish Deluxe—a unique and mouthwatering combination featuring the sweet bun of the former and the spicy fish of the latter.
Offer all-you-can-eat or beverage/dessert combo deals
For diners looking for a good value, offering an all-you-can-eat Friday Fish deal can be the way to their hearts (or stomachs). Additionally, a Friday Fish special hits nostalgia notes as well, perfect for baby boomers or those who love a little retro flair. Serve up beer battered fish with crisp fries or potato wedges and malt vinegar for a delectable fish-n-chips meal.
If an all-you-can-eat deal is off the table, so to speak, consider pairing a fish entree with a specialty drink or a signature dessert to appeal to diners who like to enjoy a treat with or after their meal.
Incorporate ethnic influence
Comfort foods seem to be most prevalent on seafood menus during Lent, but there’s no reason not to think outside the fryer. According to Technomic’s 2017 Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian report, 37% of consumers say they would like more restaurants to offer more ethnic seafood dishes, while 43% say they would like restaurants to offer seafood entrees with new or unique flavors.
Menu examples of globally-inspired seafood dishes include:
- Alaskan Misoyaki Butterfish, offered at Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, an upscale casual dining restaurant with locations in six states. This dish features seared butterfish atop a bed of sugar snap peas, shiitake mushrooms and miso broth.
- Rubio’s, a Mexican fast casual chain with nearly 200 locations, offers up several options for those who want seafood and fish, including a wild grouper burrito, served grilled or house-blackened, with sweet and citrusy mango salsa, handmade guacamole, citrus rice, crisp cabbage, cilantro and onion with chipotle white sauce.
Menu unexpected types of seafood
While cod, tilapia and other whitefish are popular options during Lent, other types of seafood don’t have to be left out. Consider menuing crab cakes with a tangy remoulade, a salmon burger topped with creamy avocado, a shrimp cocktail with zesty cocktail sauce, or even a seafood paella (while some variations of paella feature certain types of meat, it can be left out for a Lent-friendly version).
This post is sponsored by High Liner Foods