The menu-innovation desert that is February-March is almost behind us. After weeks spent promoting fish and value menus, burger chains are awakening from their naps and beginning to add new items to the menu mix to enliven sales. What we’re hearing:
• Having established its new Right Price, Right Size budget menu, Wendy’s as early as next week is expected finally to introduce the Grilled Chicken Flatbread line it has been testing and hinting at in financial presentations for the past year. Look for a familiar Wendy’s flavor combination—Asiago Ranch Grilled Chicken Flatbread—to anchor the line, which in test markets also included Smoky Honey Mustard, Smoky Apple BBQ and Caprese varieties.
• Burger King has been doing value promotions, including the “Mix & Match 2 for $5” sandwich offer and the $4.99 King Deals value meals it has in several markets in preparation for a rollout. For spring the chain will need something on the premium end of the scale, and sources say it’s planning a Chipotle Whopper to warm things up. There’s also talk of doughnut holes as BK’s new snack. Ready, Dunkin’?
• Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s will be adding a Jim Beam Bourbon Burger later this month. As previously reported, Heidi Klum will star in TV spots that spoof baby-boomer iconic film “The Graduate.” Just last December, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers brought back its Sweet Jim Beam Bacon Swiss Burger.
• McDonald’s, too, has been buttressing its value profile, adding the Hot ‘N Spicy McChicken to its Dollar Menu. The chain says that the Egg White Delight McMuffin will be added to the breakfast menu nationally on April 22. Diners will be able to ask for its egg-white round on other breakfast sandwiches. Until then, McDonald’s is using the Steak & Egg Burrito as a breakfast LTO in several markets.
• But it’s not just the national QSRs that are shaking off winter and trying some new, big and delicious. West Coast “better burger” favorite Umami this week introduced the B.U. B (Big Umami Burger). It’s the Big Mac of your dreams: two all-beef 6-oz. patties, bacon, beer Cheddar, minced onion, pickles mustard and house ketchup in a double-decker bun. And another West Coast chain, Original Tommy’s, has augmented the menu with a spicy Caliente Burger topped with chipotle Cheddar and sliced cascabel chiles.•