US restaurants banking on seafood for Easter, spring specials
As Americans’ concerns about COVID-19 ease, restaurant operators are relying on seafood Easter turnout to return sales to pre-COVID levels.
U.S. restaurants at every level of the market are prominently featuring seafood dishes on their spring and Easter menus and limited-time specials, in response to positive menu and demographic trends, according to Datassential.
Orlando, Florida-based Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, a Darden brand with 22 locations, is prominently featuring seafood at its Easter Brunch, serving Lobster Quiche Florentine, Roasted Avocado and Jumbo Lump Crab on brioche toast, Norwegian Smoked Salmon, and Maine Lobster Bisque.
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.-based Legal Sea Foods is touting its new spring menu, which includes dishes such as Mexican Street Cod, Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast, and Moroccan Grilled Swordfish Steak.
"We are excited about our evolving menu program, using fresh seasonal ingredients that enhance the quality and freshness of our fish and seafood. This has been well received since the PPX partnership and we continue to invest and evolve both the menu program as well as our beverage program," PPX Hospitality Brands Chief Culinary Officer Chef Matt King told SeafoodSource. "Our local partnerships with the local seafood industry in New England are key to our ability to offer the very best, freshest species available.”
Tampa, Florida, U.S.A.-based Bonefish Grill, owned by Bloomin’ Brands, is featuring jumbo shrimp skewers and Salmon Caprese throughout the spring.
Taco Bueno, which operates 184 locations in the Southeast U.S., is offering Fish and Shrimp Tacos for a limited time. Guests can order their choice of crispy-fried fish or shrimp with lettuce and pico de gallo, drizzled with jalapeño ranch dressing and served in a tortilla.
Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.-based Four Flamingos: A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is holding a seafood-centric Easter Brunch Buffet.
The buffet includes a whole black grouper carving station and a raw bar. Four Flamingos is also offering small plates, including Florida Lobster and Crawfish Tortilla-Style Omelet and Petite Filet with Coconut Creamed Spinach.
“It’s important for us to feature seafood in all of our menus. It is a huge part of the roots of this restaurant. As a Florida-centric space that focuses on Florida flavors and ingredients, seafood is at the heart of that,” Four Flamingos Chef de Cuisine Shelby Farrell told SeafoodSource. "During this time of year, I think seafood is especially appropriate. Seafood is inherently light and fresh, so it lends so well to the flavors and ingredients of spring.”
Most of the restaurant’s seafood is sourced from Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, Farrell said, including black grouper from the Gulf, shrimp from Cape Canaveral, crab from the Florida Panhandle area, and slipper lobster from the Florida Keys.
Recognizing that consumers want to eat healthier and are seeking interesting new seafood dishes, 32 percent of restaurant operators increased their seafood offerings over the last year, Datassential Project Manager Gerald Oksanen said during a recent webinar from the research firm. A majority (89 percent) of consumers surveyed by Datassential believe seafood in general is healthy, versus 88 percent who believe poultry is healthy and 66 percent who believe meat is healthy.
Additionally, 26 percent of Generation Z Americans say they are eating more seafood, while 21 percent of millennials, 16 percent of Generation X, and 13 percent of Boomers have increased seafood consumption, according to Datassential.
However, U.S. restaurant chains appear to be relying on classic seafood offerings rather than creating new ones, as the number of restaurant operators launching new seafood dishes fell in February and March compared to 2021, according to Datassential’s Insider database.
“I'd say the story is that for operators who choose to offer a Lenten special, it seems to be a core part of their business and successful as they are opting to add items,” Datassential Associate Director Claire Conaghan told SeafoodSource.
Datassential said for those restaurant operators who did innovate new Lenten offerings, creativity reigned, including Bang Bang Shrimp Po’Boy from Fuddrucker’s, Tex-Mex Shrimp Bowl from Applebee’s, Artisan Hand Stretched Shrimp Scampi Pizza from Bertucci’s Brick Oven Pizzeria, and Jameson Irish Whiskey Glazed Salmon from McCormick and Schmick’s.
Photo courtesy of Four Flamingos: A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen