With the calendar page flipping to June, restaurants are turning their focus to summer menu promotions. Summer flavors and ingredients are showing up more frequently, but there’s also a more lighthearted, whimsical approach to the food and drink selection. Operators are playing up road trips, county fairs, beach vibes and summer’s more carefree days through their menu offerings. And the week wouldn’t be complete without a new chicken sandwich making its debut.
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
Popeyes led the charge in the chicken sandwich wars when it launched its fried chicken sandwich in 2019. Now the QSR is back with a Blackened Chicken Sandwich that also reflects Popeyes Louisiana roots. It features a nonbreaded, nonbattered white meat chicken breast filet spiced with a New Orleans-style blackened seasoning blend and topped with pickle slices and mayo on a brioche bun. For customers who want more heat, there’s also a Spicy Blackened Chicken Sandwich topped with spicy mayo. The flavor profile of the chicken is similar to that of the Cajun Flounder Sandwich Popeyes introduced in February.
Chopt Creative Salad Co.
Predictions are that this post-pandemic summer will see a spike in road trips. Chopt is playing into this prediction with its Destination American Road Trip menu lineup. The salad chain is offering options such as the Georgia Summer Cobb Salad with sweet and smoky chicken, peaches, corn, crispy shallots, pickled onions, blue cheese and greens, Key West Jerk Chicken Bowl and Cape Cod Shrimp Roll Salad.
The Big Kahuna is the latest LTO in the Dog Haus Chef Collaboration Series. The chain’s culinary team partnered with Bert S. Agor Jr., the executive chef for King’s Hawaiian, to develop the island-themed burger. It features an Angus beef patty topped with American cheese, smoked bacon, miso ranch, wild arugula, pickled jalapenos, pickled peppers, scallions, onion rings and bang bang sauce served on grilled King’s Hawaiian rolls. The Big Kahuna will be available through Aug. 31, and for each purchase, Dog Haus will donate $1 to No Kid Hungry.
Golden Chick is stirring up state and county fair food memories with the return of Fletcher’s Original Corny Dogs. Last summer, the Texas-based chain “rescued” the corn dogs—a staple at the Texas State Fair—when that event was canceled due to the pandemic. Now Golden Chick is bringing them back to 87 of its restaurants in Dallas, Fort Worth and surrounding Texas communities. The Fletcher’s Original Corny Dog is available on Saturdays and Sundays only through Aug. 1; it’s selling for $5 on its own or $7.99 as part of a combo meal with fries and a soft drink.
The Edge pizza is coming back to Pizza Hut for a limited time. The thin-crust pizza, first introduced in 1997, is differentiated by extending the toppings from edge-to-edge to completely cover the crust, as well as the seasoning of a unique garlic and herb blend. The Edge, which sells for $12.99, is available with four topping variations. The Ultimate features pepperoni, Italian sausage, green peppers, onions and Roma tomatoes, while The Carnivore comes with pepperoni, ham, Italian sausage and bacon. The Vegetarian focuses on meatless toppings, including green peppers, onions, mushrooms and Roma tomatoes, and Pepperoni Lover’s is topped edge-to-edge with pepperoni. All are baked with a cracker-thin crust and served “tavern-style,” cut into squares instead of triangular slices.
Pie Five Pizza
The Impossible Tuscan Pizza is the latest offering from Pie Five Pizza. The pie is topped with meatballs made with Impossible plant-based meat, as well as Tuscan marinara sauce, ricotta and mozzarella, all baked on a house-made thin crust. Once baked, the pie is finished with grape tomatoes, arugula and a light lemon dressing. The plant-based meatballs replace Pie Five’s former meaty meatball topping.
Friendly’s is celebrating National Founder’s Day on July 18, honoring the legacy of founder Pres Blake, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 106. The Fribble—Friendly’s iconic milkshake that dates back to the 1930s—was Blake’s favorite treat, according to a press release. So the chain announced it is giving out free Fribbles on Founder’s Day. The creamy thick shakes, now available in 18 flavors, remain a popular summertime indulgence.
The beverage side of the menu is also the focus at Chicago’s PB&J. The initials stand for Pizza, Beer & Jukebox, but the new lineup focuses on brunch drinks. The restaurant launched three breakfast-themed shots with nostalgic flavors. The trio includes Fruit Loops, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Pancake, available on weekends only.
Watermelon is the ultimate summer refresher, and Smoothie King is highlighting the juicy red fruit in two smoothies. The fan favorite Hydration Watermelon smoothie is returning for a second season, with gymnast Gabby Douglas partnering with the chain to promote the drink. It’s a blend of watermelon juice, coconut water, strawberries and the brand’s proprietary electrolyte blend. New to Smoothie King’s menu is another LTO—the Watermelon X-Treme.