Denny’s last week launched its Tour of America menu, featuring six limited time dishes.
“We have a restaurant in all 50 states, many close or on highways. So when summer starts and the road trips begin, it’s the perfect time to do a menu like this,” says John Dillon, Denny’s spokesperson. “We want to capitalize on the fact that we are America’s diner.”
And what could say it better than featuring a Phillly Cheesesteak Omelette (prime rib, fire-roasted peppers and onions, sautéed mushrooms and melted Swiss) or the Midwestern Meat and Potatoes Sandwich, featuring a Cheddar bun stuffed with grilled prime rib and french fries, smothered in brown gravy and topped with melted Swiss and American cheeses and mayo.
There are also three new beverages: the Florida Orange Milk Shake, the Pacific Northwest Iced Coffee, and the Hawaiian Tropical Smoothie.
The dishes are classics with a twist. “We wanted to do [these foods] in a way the customer can’t necessarily make at home, which we’ve found to be a key driver for us,” Dillon explains
“People want to taste food from everywhere. Whether they’re staying at home or traveling, people love adventure. So we’ve created some safe adventures for them, but still adventures.”
Denny’s came up with the Tour of America menu by soliciting input from franchisees, operators, guests and the culinary team. The challenge then was paring down so many ideas and coming up with a representation of dishes from America that also covered three dayparts. Prices also range from $4.99 to $7.99 to fit any budget.
Along with the popularity of a dish, the chain took into consideration how well a meal could be executed and how consistently it could be replicated. “Some [dishes] that could have universal appeal just didn’t work,” Dillon points out.
The menu launched last week with little fanfare: Advertising was only in the restaurants, through placemats, freestanding menus, etc. National TV advertising for the LTO began this week.
And today Denny’s launched Fit Fare, a new menu focus highlighting healthy, delicious offerings to be incorporated into the standard menu along with nutritional information.
Fit Fare features four healthy categories:
- Fit Fare Lean (under 15 grams)
- Fit Fare Light (under 550 calories)
- Fit Fare Protein (over 20 grams of protein)
- Fit Fare Fiber (more than 8 grams of fiber)
Items fitting one or more of these requirements are highlighted on the menu with a logo or more than one logo, so customers can easily identify them.
- Fit Slam—egg whites scrambled with fresh spinach and grape tomatoes, two turkey bacon strips, an English muffin and a side of seasonal fruit (less than 550 calories and 15g of fat, and more than 20g of protein).
- The Chicken Avocado Sandwich, featuring a grilled seasoned chicken breast with diced avocado, freshly made pico de gallo, lettuce and sour cream on a whole wheat bun, is served with Fit Fare fresh veggies (less than 550 calories and over 20g of protein).
“This is just a way for guests to be more knowledgeable about the items at Denny’s,” Dillon says, “and we’re allowing customers to make their own choices [about health]. By doing it this way we’re not forcing it on anybody. We’re providing the items and letting them make their own choices.”
By Amanda Baltazar