Lent kicks off Feb. 22 and quick-service chains have ramped up their fish/seafood promotions accordingly, trying to woo Catholic customers who are committed to not eating meat on Fridays through April 7.
In recent years, research firm The NPD Group has confirmed a slight rise in seafood sales at restaurants during the Lenten season, as well as a slight drop in items such as hamburgers. This year's push for those extra dollars includes:
Arby's has focused on its fish sandwich during a national television campaign, complemented by the brand's "Good Mood Food" tag. For a limited time, guests can get a $4 Fish Combo or two Fish Sandwiches for $4.
Culver's Northwoods Walleye returned to menus today. The chain is also promoting its hand-battered North Atlantic Cod Filet and its North Atlantic Cod Filet Dinner, with two sides and a dinner roll.
Wendy's has brought back its Premium Cod Filet for a limited time, using 100 percent North Pacific cod battered in light Panko breading and topped with tartar sauce and lettuce.
Jack in the Box
Jack in the Box is offering a Fish Sandwich Combo for $2.99, plus tax, for a limited time. Jack's Fish Sandwich is made with two lightly battered filets of Alaskan Pollock topped with lettuce and tartar sauce and served on a warm sesame seed bun. The $2.99 Fish Sandwich Combo also includes a small order of fries and small fountain drink.
"Our Fish Sandwich Combo is a filling meal and a great value for our guests, especially at this time of year when a lot of people are looking for an alternative to burgers and chicken," said Tracy Dunn, director of menu marketing and promotions for Jack in the Box Inc.
In addition, Jack in the Box also is offering Fish & Chips, which includes three fish filets and a small order of fries along with a side of tartar sauce and malt vinegar. Fish & Chips are available for a limited time at participating restaurants for $4.59, plus tax.
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
Popeyes is promoting its Butterfly Shrimp Tackle Box, with eight Butterfly Shrimp marinated in the chain's signature Louisiana spices and served over a bed of Cajun fries and with a buttermilk biscuit. The offer is available for $4.99 for a limited time.
KFC's Fish Snacker features a breaded Alaskan Pollock fish filet topped with tartar sauce and served on a warm sesame seed bun.
Taco Cabana is re-introducing its line of Shrimp Tampico items, hand-marinated daily in a mix of chipotle and ancho spices, and grilled with garlic, lime and cilantro.
Now through mid-April, guests can order Shrimp Tampico in tacos, quesadillasor enchiladas. Guests can also add Shrimp Tampico to their custom-built Cabana Bowl. The items start at $4.99.
"For the past five years, Shrimp Tampico has been something our guests look forward to each spring. This year, we introduced it to the menu earlier so our fans can enjoy it longer," said Todd Coerver, chief marketing officer at Taco Cabana.
Long John Silver's
Long John Silver's recently introduced a new Thick-Cut Cod basket for $5.99 plus tax. The item is supported by a televised campaign touting the chain's "thickest, most premium filet ever."
Captain D's has also introduced a new televised campaign to showcase its new $4.99 full meal deals, featuring either the Southern-style white fish, two pieces of hand-breaded flounder or a 12-piece Butterfly Shrimp order, served with two regular sides and Hush Puppies.
Blimpie has kicked off a social media and advertising campaign to push its tuna subs and tuna melts.
McDonald's Filet-O-Fish takes center stage at the Golden Arches this time of year. Notably, the sandwich was created by a Cincinnati area owner/operator during Lenten season. His restaurant, located in a heavily Catholic populated area, eventually sold 300 million of the sandwiches a year. About 23 percent of all Filet-O-Fish sandwiches are purchased during Lent.
Whataburger's Whatacatch features a crispy fish fillet topped with traditional tartar sauce and shredded lettuce served on a bun. Customers can also enjoy the sandwich as a taco when they order a Whatacatch on a flour tortilla.
Taco John's has teamed up with Kent Hrbek, a two-time World Series Champion with the Minnesota Twins and outdoor TV show host, to launch its new Fish Tacos this month.
"Our research shows customers want lighter, fresher menu items as winter winds down and spring moves in," says Bob Karisny, vice president for Menu Strategy and Innovation.
Taco John's Fish Tacos are seasoned and rolled in a crunchy tortilla crust, wrapped in a warm flour tortilla and topped with lettuce, cheese and Fajita sour cream. Each Fish Taco comes with a wedge of fresh-cut lime. They will be available until April 8.
"Communicating freshness was our goal with the launch of Fish Tacos," said Renée Middleton, vice president of Marketing. "Kent Hrbek, a self-professed Taco John's fan, is an avid fisherman and natural spokesperson in our television commercials for Fish Tacos."
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