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Menu news of the week: 3.16.20

With LTOs in the pipeline before the coronavirus pandemic, restaurants are going ahead with menu launches.
gloria jeans coffee
Photograph courtesy of Gloria Jeans

Despite the rapidly evolving developments around restaurant closures and social distancing, new items continue to pop up on menus. R&D for these LTOs and menu introductions most likely began months before COVID-19 dominated the news cycle. Here’s what’s happening.

Beverages were an especially active category. Gloria Jean’s Coffees debuted its new seasonal lineup, which includes the Vanilla Creme Over Ice (also available as a latte) and the Golden Vanilla Cookie Chiller, an “un-coffee” that offers an option for non-coffee drinkers. The chain is also bringing back its Caramel Coconut Macadamia Nut flavor for spring, available in iced drinks, lattes and whole beans.

Spring mocktails are appearing on a number of independent restaurant menus. New Orleans is leading the charge, with Toups’ Eatery launching a Hibiscus Lemon Soda and the Mull it Over, the latter of which features a blend of cranberry juice, mulled syrup and lemon juice. Bywater American Bistro is offering the Tropical Rose (pineapple, lemon, rose syrup and tonic) and the We Want A Shrubbery (blackberry-grapefruit shrub, lemon, sage and soda), while sister restaurant, Compere Lapin created the Strange Page (grapefruit, aji dulce pepper, raspberry, ginger and gentian).

Smoothie King introduced Metabolism Boost smoothies in two flavors: Strawberry-Pineapple, made with strawberries, pineapple, a protein blend, kiwi-apple juice and fiber, and Mango Ginger, featuring a blend of mango, ginger, banana, spinach, protein blend, white grape-lemon juice and enhancers.

Modern Market debuted its Chef’s Picks, highlighting fresh spring ingredients. The Asparagus Prosciutto pizza features roasted asparagus, as does the Mushroom Muffaletta, Market Cobb Salad and Fire Roasted Veggies. A Turmeric Veggie Salad joins the lineup, boasting antioxidants and other nutritional benefits.

Comfort foods also are in the spotlight, perhaps to ease the stress of dealing with coronavirus. On the Border launched Cheese-Smothered Steak Fajitas, Texas Queso Fries, Melted Queso Fundido and Cheesy Queso Enchiladas. Habit Burger Grill brought back its Tempura Jalapeno Charburger, topped with fried jalapenos, jalapeno jam and melted cheese. On the sweet side, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse returned its Churro Pizookie—mini churros topped with cinnamon sugar and vanilla ice cream.

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