Spring has gotten off to a slow start in some states, but that isn’t stopping fast casuals from stepping up seasonal launches. Several brands that have been relatively quiet over the last few months are actively freshening up their menus with a host of spring ingredients and flavors. There’s also been a flurry of activity in the QSR and full-service segments. Take a look at the innovative additions that are powering menus forward now.
This smaller bakery-café chain has long been in Panera Bread’s shadow, but menu development has taken off this spring. Atlanta Bread launched 10 new items this month, featuring seasonal ingredients such as watermelon, strawberries, corn and avocado in wraps, bowls and beverages. There’s a Watermelon Feta Salad with greens, watermelon, cucumber, feta and candied walnuts; a Sunrise Bowl with strawberries, bananas, homemade granola, coconut and honey with a choice of yogurt or oatmeal; and a Watermelon Mojito Smoothie blended with watermelon, strawberries and mint. The fast casual also introduced a new format—the wrapini—a cross between a wrap and panini. The Monterey Wrapini is filled with grilled chicken, cheese, avocado, bacon, chipotle ranch dressing and salsa.
Piada Italian Street Food
Piada Italian Street Food is debuting three new items and one revamped one, as well as a new pasta option. The Mediterranean Piada is an Italian-style wrap filled with cucumber salad, hummus, a brown-rice-and-quinoa blend, pickled red onions, tomato bruschetta, feta and basil aioli rolled up in an Italian flatbread. The Bacon & Blue Chop Salad is a combo of greens, roasted sweet potatoes, pancetta, dried cranberries, brown rice-quinoa blend and blue cheese, while the updated Power Bowl features the rice-quinoa blend, roasted broccoli, sweet corn, tomatoes, hummus, pickled onions, marinated cucumber salad and a yogurt harissa drizzle. On the pasta front, Roasted Tomato Pomodoro Pasta is making its entrance, and penne—guests’ second most-requested pasta option, according to Piada—is joining the menu.
Thursday is International Hummus Day, and Luna Grill is celebrating by introducing guests to its new Spicy Harissa Hummus through a special promotion. The new variety is made fresh in-house and features the fast-casual organic hummus topped by a blend of bell peppers, jalapeno, garlic, harissa, cilantro and spices. Guest who dine in Thursday at any Luna Grill location will be treated to a complimentary small plate of Spicy Harissa Hummus—enough for two to share.
To heat up its pizza selection, Blaze Pizza partnered with Tajin, the popular chili-lime seasoning brand. The seasoning is incorporated into the Chipotle Ranch Chicken Pizza, available through June 9 at Blaze locations. The pizza is topped with roasted corn, chicken and house-made chipotle ranch dressing, all sprinkled with Tajin Classico Seasoning. From May 17-23, Blaze Reward members who customize any pizza with Tajin get a $2 off deal.
Strawberries are also the featured fruit at Cousins Subs, where the juicy berries highlight a new Strawberry Shake. For the new shake and the return of its limited-time Caprese subs, Cousins is tapping its local roots to source gelato and mozzarella cheese from Wisconsin dairies. The Turkey Caprese sub is layered with turkey breast, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, spring mix and balsamic vinaigrette, while the Italian Caprese sub is loaded with Genoa salami, ham, pepperoni, mozzarella, lettuce, onions, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, mayo, oil and oregano. Both are served on Italian bread but can also be ordered without bread, deconstructed in a bowl.
PDQ is also launching a limited-time sandwich and shake. The Cali Club sandwich features grilled or spicy chicken breast topped with ranch, bacon, guacamole, lettuce and tomato on a toasted potato bun. A lettuce bun is an option for those avoiding carbs. The banana shake is a blend of vanilla ice cream spun with bananas and Oreo cookie crumbles, topped with whipped cream and a cherry. The chain has also gone digital with the new MyPDQ mobile app, which offers fans ordering capabilities and loyalty rewards.
Chicken nuggets get a Spanish name at Pollo Campero in step with the concept’s Latin-influenced menu. The new Camperitos are hand-breaded white meat chicken nuggets, fried and served with a choice dipping sauces. The sauces include the chain’s Signature Campero, Ranch BBQ, Buffalo or Honey Mustard, as well as two limited-time varieties: Avocado Ranch and Frank’s Red Hot Sweet Chili sauce. Instead of dipping, customers can also order the Camperitos tossed in barbecue, Buffalo or garlic Parmesan sauce. The nuggets are available in a six-or nine-count meal or a family-size 30-piece package.
Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano
Four seasonal chef-inspired items are on offer at Biaggi’s for May. Polenta Fries are prepared with wild mushroom polenta and served with a truffled brie cream cheese sauce, while portobello mushrooms enhance Chicken Pietro, along with a honey-mustard balsamic sauce, sauteed vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes. Summer Strawberry & Burrata Salad and Shrimp Scampi Pasta complete the quartet of LTOs.
Consumers have expanded choices at Johnny Rockets with the introduction of three plant-based items. For a limited time, guests can order a burger made with Impossible meat, top it with Daiya dairy-free cheddar slices and accompany their cheeseburger with a shake made with Craig’s Vegan ice cream. These plant-based ingredients are also offered at other FAT Brands’ concepts, the parent company of Johnny Rockets.
Dickey's Barbecue Pit
As part of Dickey’s Summer of Family Favorites promotion, the fast casual is introducing a sandwich and side. The Sweet King’s Hawaiian Pulled Pork Sandwich with Dr. Pepper Barbecue Sauce is composed of hickory-smoked pulled pork in a King’s Hawaiian bun topped with Dr. Pepper-infused barbecue sauce. It can be paired with a new seasonal side of Texas Sweet Corn, made with creamy kernels of sweet corn spiked with a dash of Dickey’s rib rub seasoning. Both are available all summer long.
Make Your Own Sundae Kits welcome the warmer weather at Friendly’s. The chain isencouraging customers to orderthe $29.99 kits to celebrate graduations, Father’s Day and other summer milestones. Each is filled with a choice of one carton of Friendly’s ice cream, whipped topping, three ice cream toppings, and cups and cones for serving.