US restaurants stressing value in seafood promotions

A seafood entree at Marlow's Tavern.

Recognizing that Americans are increasingly worried about rising prices due to inflation, many U.S. restaurants are luring in guests with limited-time seafood specials, discounts, and bundled meals. Others are promising to keep overall prices reasonable even as their costs of ingredients, labor, and serving products soar.

Nashville, Tennessee-based O’Charley’s Restaurant and Bar recently unveiled an “economic stimulus package” marketing campaign, a bevy of discounts, promotions, and deals to “help those guests and families suffering economically in the current climate,” the company said in a press release.

A signature component of the new campaign is its “inflationary discount,” which offers a percentage off on a guest’s next online order based on the previous month’s Consumer Price Index calculation, which is tabulated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Since May’s calculation ended at 8.6 percent, guests will be given a discount of 8.6 percent off their next online order in the month of June,” O’Charley’s said.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, Boston, Massachusetts-based Bertucci’s is offering limited-time price cuts of up to 75 percent on certain dishes in July, taken from the chain’s first menu in 1981.

"These are challenging times for so many, and it was important for the Bertucci's family to do something to offer a bit of relief – and this throwback menu should help,” Bertucci’s Owner Robert Earl said in a press release.

Orlando, Florida-based Marlow’s Tavern, which operates 22 restaurants in Florida and Georgia, is pledging to keep prices reasonable for its longtime guests and remove seafood items from the menu when costs rise too high, according to Marlow’s Executive Chef, CEO, and Co-Founder John Metz. Metz told SeafoodSource some of his customers are upset about the removal of the crab cake entrée, one of the restaurant chain’s signature dishes, but he is waiting until the cost of crab is more reasonable before bringing it back.

“We took crab cake off the menu a couple months ago, because [the crab] price is so high. I’m not going to charge you USD 20.00 [EUR 19.68] … for crab cakes because that is not the value proposition we offer,” Metz said.

Metz has pledged to keep prices on Marlow’s “Tavern Favorites” entrée list reasonable and provide a range of price options for customers.

“You have got to be smart about it. You have to think about what the guests want and give it to them at a value. I think we are good at that,” Metz said.

Marlow’s is also drawing in guests with new seafood dishes for the summer, such as Carol’s Lobster Roll, served Maine-style or Connecticut-style, and Blackened Triggerfish.

“We are trying some different fish such as triggerfish and monkfish that will be good for our guests and keep our value proposition,” Metz said.

Marlow’s started streamlining its menu before the COVID-19 pandemic, and then continued removing items that weren’t selling well to help manage the loss of business during the pandemic.

Marlow’s also “got lucky” with some forward contracts it had in place before COVID, “which affected our ability to get the price right,” Metz said. As a result, it is able to offer entrees like its popular Shrimp and Grits at a value to guests.

Marlow’s sources its seafood from Atlanta, Georgia-based Halpern’s Seafood and Buckhead Beef and Norwood, Georgia-based Farmers and Fishermen.

Maintaining relationships with key vendors during the very challenging financial times of the pandemic has also been key to Marlow’s continued success with sourcing ingredients, Metz said.

“At the beginning of COVID-19, we called all of our key vendors, and said, ‘We are not going anywhere. We are a stable company, but we are going to need your help. Let’s be flexible.’ We worked on paying off prior invoices through that time, and also told them, ‘You have to communicate with me on what you can deliver,’” Metz said. “They were 100 percent supportive. If there was an issue, we were the first to get the seafood because we had very good relationships. They gave us the best value they could and we paid our bills on our time.”

Like it has throughout the pandemic, Tampa, Florida, U.S.A.-based Bonefish Grill, owned by Bloomin’ Brands, continues to focus on family meal deals to-go. Its “generously-portioned” Family Bundles deal – such as the recently-launched Creamy Cajun Pasta family meal deal for USD 47.90 (EUR 47.14) – includes an entree, a choice of salad, a side, bread, and cookies.

Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.A.-based Long John Silver’s is boasting about the value of its recently launched Coconut Popcorn Shrimp, which comes as part of its USD 10.00 (EUR 9.82) Sea-Share or Family Feast.

Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.-based High Tide Harry’s offers 20 percent off on all dishes every Monday, along with other specials offered on specific days.

Photo courtesy of Marlow’s Tavern


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