NRN Bret Thorn | Feb 10, 2022
Plus innovation at Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, Cinnaholic, Cousins Subs, Dave & Buster’s, Eggs Up Grill, Everytable, The Habit Burger Grill, Hard Rock Cafe, Hopdoddy, J. Gilbert’s Restaurant, Little Caesars, Pei Wei, Schlotzsky’s, Smokey Bones, Tous Les Jours, Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Velvet Taco, Voodoo Doughnut and Ziggi’s Coffee
Industry folk sometimes call Valentine’s Day (along with New Year’s Eve and Mother’s Day) “amateur night,” because people unaccustomed to going out regularly feel obligated to do so for these special occasions.
This year Valentine’s Day is on a Monday, meaning operators have a whole long weekend to experience customers’ inappropriate behavior or the need to gently remind them how to act in public. This will no-doubt be amplified by nearly two-years of pandemic-induced ill manners.
Restaurateurs, being professionals, appear to be up to the challenge and chains are rolling out the sparkly, chocolate-enrobed carpet to celebrate the occasion.
Cinnaholic has a special line of chocolate-covered strawberries and related items, Eggs Up Grill has a chocolate-berry Mimosa, Hard Rock Cafe has lobster specials (the seafood that Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day have in common), Hardee’s is shaping its biscuits like hears for the weekend, J. Gilbert’s Restaurant has three-course meals for two, Tous Les Jours has a whole array of chocolate-and-pink pastries, Tropical Smoothie Cafe has a chocolate-strawberry smoothie, Voodoo Doughnut has brought back its Conversation Hearts, Ziggi’s Coffee has Red Hot Lattes and Little Caesars, in certain markets in the Southeast, is selling bouquets of Crazy Bread.
Smokey Bones has new candied-theme cocktails that could be construed as Valentine’s-Day adjacent, but they’re available through May 23.
Of course, it’s also Super Bowl weekend and Subway has seen fit to use the occasion to launch The Vault, a line of athlete-themed and curated sandwiches available only via the chain’s web site or app.
The Habit Burger Grill is now offering garlic-roasted Brussels sprouts, which might be tasty and nutritious but probably not great for date night.
McDonald’s and Cousins Subs are pushing forward to St. Patrick’s Day with returning mint shakes at both chains (and a Reuben at the sub chain).
Speaking of reprises, Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar has brought back its fried mozzarella burger.
Hopdoddy has a couple of extremely limited-time offers — a bucket of chicken tenders and fries just available through Sunday as well as fries topped with crushed Oreo cookie pieces that will be around through Feb. 20.
Sister chain’s Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are testing a new beef chili, Pei Wei has a new bourbon chicken, the latest item it has developed in collaboration with celebrity chef Jet Tila, and Schlotzsky’s has a new line of folded sandwiches that it’s calling calzones, with a big promotional push from former NSYNC band member Joey Fatone.
Dave & Buster’s has new street tacos, Everytable has some new seasonal items and Velvet Taco’s Weekly Taco Feature is a surf & turf.