Restaurants are partnering with consumer packaged goods brands on latest plant-based offerings.
Blimpie is offering a meatless twist on its meatball parmigiana sub for a limited time. The sandwich has Gardein plant-based meatballs smothered in zesty marinara sauce and melted provolone cheese sprinkled with Parmesan. The Gardein brand is owned by Conagra Brands.
“Blimpie is thrilled to announce our very first plant-based sub,” said Sam Carity, senior national marketing manager for Kahala Brands, parent company of Blimpie. “Guests have been looking for a plant-based option, and we set out to create a sub that could fill their cravings. Our new sub delivers the same mouthwatering taste of our classic Meatball Parmigiana, now as a vegetarian option.”
Pizza chain Donatos has partnered with Greenleaf Foods, a subsidiary of Maple Leaf Foods, to offer Field Roast Plant-Based Pepperoni on two of its signature cauliflower crust pizzas. The pepperoni alternative is made with pea protein and has half the sodium, fat and saturated fat of traditional pepperoni, according to the company.
“We’ve seen great momentum with our Field Roast Plant-Based Pepperoni in the foodservice sector and are excited to increase its accessibility through our partnership with Donatos,” said Dan Curtin, president of Greenleaf Foods. “Our Plant-Based Pepperoni offers the same protein per serving as traditional pepperoni and an authentic, bold taste that is sure to impress plant-based and plant-based curious consumers alike.”
El Pollo Loco is debuting Dos Locos Salads for a limited time. The Cheesy Quesadilla includes quesadillas and grilled chicken on greens and lettuce with avocado, pico de gallo and queso fresco. The Chicken Taquito Salad has chicken taquitos and grilled chicken on greens and lettuce topped with guacamole, pico de gallo and queso fresco. The Unwrapped Chicken Burrito Salad includes a large flour tortilla, grilled chicken, greens and lettuce, avocado, pico de gallo and queso fresco.
“We know health and wellness are top of mind for many this time of year, but El Pollo Loco recognizes that more consumers are craving balance and comfort, so we designed Dos Locos Salads to help you kick off the new year on a delicious note,” said Andy Rebhun, senior vice president of marketing. “The new Dos Locos Salads are the perfect way to enjoy your greens without depriving yourself of the LA-Mex comfort food you truly crave.”
Panera Bread has unveiled a pair of new menu items. Thai Chicken Soup combines chicken, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, red bell peppers and edamame simmered in a yellow coconut curry broth with lemongrass, ginger, galangal and Thai lime. Citrus Asian Crunch Salad has romaine and a blend of chopped broccoli, green cabbage, carrots and kale tossed with edamame, pickled red onions and cilantro, topped with tangerine soy ginger dressing, chicken thigh meat, carrots and a teriyaki drizzle.
“Our chefs have been meticulously obsessing over every ingredient in our test kitchens, creating new menu items with a focus on taking familiar flavors and adding a unique Panera twist, turning them into bold, amazing dishes our guests will love,” said Claes Petersson, head chef and chief food innovation officer at Panera Bread. “From classic Panera favorites to new, enticingly bold flavors, we hope to satisfy any craving and provide more adventurous flavors for our customers.”
Pie Five Pizza is launching Mike’s Sticky Fingers, a personal-size pepperoni pizza drizzled with Mike’s Hot Honey, a chili-infused honey. Additional toppings include spicy marinara, mozzarella and fresh basil.
“We know consumers are craving new varieties of old favorites and unusual ingredients,” said Patty Scheibmeir, lead of research and development and culinary innovation for Rave Restaurant Group, parent company of Pie Five Pizza. “Mike’s Sticky Fingers takes a classic recipe and turns it into a hotter and sweeter pepperoni pizza. Our new curl-and-crisp pepperoni pools the honey on the pizza creating an explosion of flavor. The story behind the name and the magic of the experience are all about the delicious stickiness left on your fingers as the honey drips off the crust.”
Fast-casual chain Pokeworks has partnered with OmniFoods, maker of the OmniPork plant-based pork-style protein, to introduce the Omni Luncheon Musubi at select locations. The protein, made with soy, peas, shiitake mushrooms and rice, is stacked on sushi rice and wrapped with a band of dried seaweed.
“This partnership with OmniFoods is very exciting as we continue to find more plant-based alternatives that can be added to our customers’ favorite bowls at Pokeworks,” said Steve Heeley, chief executive officer of Pokeworks. “With sustainability as one of our core values, we are constantly looking for innovative ways to meet consumer demand that are both good for the planet and provide healthy options for mindful consumers. We look forward to working with OmniFoods to help showcase their premium, preferred alternative to our traditional Garlic Spam Musubi.”
The new “3 from the Sea” menu at Red Lobster combines a soup or salad, starter and entree. Choices include fish and chips, shrimp linguini alfredo, Atlantic salmon, hand-breaded chicken tenders, Baja shrimp bowl, wagyu bacon cheeseburger and Cajun chicken linguini alfredo.
Casual dining chain TGI Fridays is reintroducing several menu staples with a new spin. The limited-time Remixed and Remastered menu includes Sizzling Cheesy Bacon Mac & Cheese Bites, featuring fried white cheddar and caramelized Jack cheese and bacon; Ultimate Cheesy Bacon Burger, with layers of mozzarella sticks, cheddar, bacon and Fridays sauce; and Oreo Madness Now Fully Stuffed, which has house-made giant Oreo cookies stuffed with cookies and cream ice cream and topped with sprinkles, chocolate sauce and strawberries.
“Everyone has a Fridays favorite, and our guests always ask us to bring back a blast from the past,” said Sara Bittorf, chief experience officer at TGI Fridays. “The list is long, so, we asked Fridays fans to vote, and we’re bringing back our greatest hits, with a unique and reimagined twist.”
Wienerschnitzel has partnered with Greenleaf Foods, a subsidiary of Maple Leaf Foods, to serve the Field Roast Plant-Based Signature Stadium Dog at its restaurants nationwide following a successful market test. The item may be served three different ways: backyard, barbecue and Chicago-style.
“Few foods stir passion like hot dogs, and we’re proud to satisfy that all-American hot dog craving for plant-based consumers nationwide through our continued partnership with Wienerschnitzel,” said Dan Curtin, president of Greenleaf Foods. “It’s an honor to partner with such a popular and iconic restaurant chain where hot dogs aren’t just an option — they’re the menu’s focus.”