How restaurants are boosting post-Lent sales

Restaurant operators that strongly pushed seafood dishes to consumers during Lent are not slowing down, as many are recognizing the need to get the new and existing seafood eaters they attracted during the Lenten season to return to their restaurants.

“Lent is a high-volume, high-profile time period for us when we attract new and lapsed guests. It is important for us to continue to highlight our seafood expertise as well as our high quality and high value menu items to encourage these new guests to continue to visit us,” said Dawn Foster, vice president of brand marketing for Captain D’s.

The 516-unit Captain D’s boosted same-store sales five percent during Lent by offering three “Full Meal Deals” for USD 4.99 (EUR 4.39) each, including its new home-style flounder and butterfly shrimp meals.

Then, in late March, the chain launched its new “Nashville Hot Fish,” a Southern-style whitefish dish, a limited-time offering available through 29 May. “We’re excited to bring back our Nashville Hot Fish after it was so well-received during our trial launch last year,” said Jason Henderson, head chef and vice president of product innovation at Captain D’s.

Two other Captain D’s limited-time offerings that run through 29 May include grilled tilapia and shrimp skewer meal and north Atlantic lobster rolls.

Similarly, Long John Silver’s is offering a USD 5 (EUR 4.40) Reel Deal box, which includes an entrée, side, hushpuppies, dessert and drink, through 23 May. On the heels of a successful digital promotion during Lent, the 1,100-unit chain is giving away 42 Reel Deals to one customer. Customers gain entry into the contest by posting about the Reel Deal on Facebook and Twitter.

During Lent, in which the chain experienced the “highest Lent results over the past three years,” according to Marilyn Nicholson, vice president of media, promotions & marketing for Long John Silver’s, the restaurant chain offered a wild-caught, hand-battered, premium Alaska Cod meal that included fries and two hushpuppies for USD 5.99 (EUR 5.27).

“While the Lenten season provides a wonderful opportunity to be top of mind with consumers, we want to make sure that Long John Silver’s remains relevant throughout the year,” Nicholson said. “For example, the USD 5 Reel Deal box provides an incredible value during a time when people are really starting to save for things like summer vacations.”

Limited-time offerings are just one effective way restaurants can continue to grow sales post-Lent, said foodservice and retail consultant Steven Johnson, grocerant guru at Foodservice Solutions.

“The halo of ‘better for you’ that seafood carries can be expanded upon by picking one day as a seafood special day to drive customers to that particular day of the week and drive interest in seafood,” he said.

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