Menu innovation is winning customers for Rockfish Seafood Grill

Published on
March 2, 2018

A menu update and the addition of delivery services has given a major boost to Richardson, Texas-based Rockfish Seafood Grill.

The chain of 11 restaurants, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, added delivery in the second half of 2017, utilizing DoorDash and Uber Eats. As a result, its overall sales rose between 7 and 9 percent in the fourth quarter of the year. 

“Delivery is now between five and six percent of overall sales at our restaurants, particularly in densely-populated communities,” Rockfish COO Seth Wilkinson told SeafoodSource. 

As a result of the success with delivery and online ordering, Wilkinson said Rockfish will open smaller restaurants in the future. 

“As the industry is evolving to a lot more delivery and online ordering, it is important to look at restaurants in urban areas with more density and a smaller footprint,” Wilkinson said. “Our largest restaurant is 4,200 square feet; now we might be able to do 2,500 square feet.”

Rockfish is exploring sites for new eateries in Dallas and Houston. It is also starting a major remodel project on its largest restaurant in Richardson.

“In addition to a total makeover, we’re adding a banquet room to the location which will allow us the flexibility to host parties, meetings and other functions without inconveniencing our regular guests,” said Virginia Pivonka,  director of procurement and marketing for the chain.

Recent menu changes and constantly changing promotions have also spurred sales at Rockfish. 

“We have lowered the price on our soups, which we make from scratch, and that has had a good return,” Wilkinson said. After the price of the soups, which include Louisiana Gumbo, New England Clam Chowder, Crab Bisque, and Roasted Jalapeno Cream, were lowered from USD 5.00 (EUR 4.10) to USD 2.50 (EUR 2.05) when added to an entree, “We have seen significantly more people order the soup,” Wilkinson said.

Rockfish also added a new lunch menu, on which all dishes are priced at USD 10.00 (EUR 8.20) – a move that has proven profitable, according to Wilkinson.

While working to lower prices on some items, Rockfish has also added premium items that have sold very well, including its Salmon Wellington, made with farmed Atlantic salmon, which is featured during the Christmas season and on other holidays. Numerous special events and promotions throughout the year also keep Rockfish top-of-mind with customers. 

“Our seasonal promotions are very important to the success of Rockfish. The variety of promotions that we do throughout the year resonate with our different guests,” Pivonka said.

For Lent and Mardi Gras, the chain is holding a “Cajun Celebration,” featuring Creole Deviled Eggs, Fried Green Tomatoes and Crawfish Stacks, Cajun Pasta, and other new, limited time dishes.

“Our Cajun promotion coincides with the start of fresh crawfish season and brings in longtime guests both on the Fridays during Lent and also for crawfish boils throughout the spring,” Pivonka said.

Then, from 12 April until the wild Alaska salmon starts, Rockfish is running an Asian promotion, which includes Red Curry Shrimp Dumplings, Asian Spiced Chicken Wings, Sesame Salmon Teriyaki, Blazing Shrimp Soba Noodle Bowl, and an Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl. 

Every year, during the wild Alaska salmon season, Rockfish features several dishes with Copper River salmon, when available. 

“We typically don’t start with the ‘first fish’, because the supply is so sporadic and cost so [much],” Pivonka said. 

The restaurant chain utilizes Ocean Beauty’s Dallas Distribution company, as well as Seattle Fish of New Mexico, for wild salmon. After the wild salmon promotion ends, Rockfish continues to feature wild Alaska salmon in specials through August.

While the chain typically promotes lobster during its Summer Flavors promotion, it had to forgo the inclusion of lobster in 2017 because of high lobster prices, according to Pivonka. 

“We are going to watch the market on live lobster and consider doing something later in the spring or early summer when availability and pricing are better,” she said.

Contributing Editor



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