Menu innovation at Frankie & Benny’s targets the adult crowd

In the face of the casual dining crunch, high-street chains are getting more experimental with their offering – Crussh is even introducing CBD oil into its outlets.

7 May 2019

With casual dining challenges plaguing the industry, brands are eager to shake up their food offering to entice consumers back through the doors. The latest to do so is Frankie & Benny’s, which has introduced 26 new dishes aimed at more grown-up tastes.

Back in March, The Restaurant Group (TRG), which owns Frankie & Benny’s, announced it would be closing a number of outlets in its portfolio that were underperforming. When it came to its American-Italian chain, TRG declared 31% of sites were in unattractive locations and announced plans to leave them in future years.

The parent group must be hoping a re-imagined Frankie & Benny’s menu will also help salvage matters. Available in restaurants from May 14, it is designed to appeal not only to families, but adults on a date or evening out with friends, with an emphasis on the Friday and Saturday night market.

Seven of the new dishes are vegan and encompass breakfast, dinner and dessert, adding to the 15 that joined the menu during Veganuary, while four are suitable for vegetarians. Options include a ‘cheese’burger, ‘cheese’ fries, scrambled ‘eggs’ and a dessert using Lotus Biscoff.

“Following the great success of our extensive vegan range launched in January, we now look to focus in on the dishes that our guests have really loved, creating further ways for them to enjoy every aspect of our menu across every day, including our new breakfast vegan fry-up and the launch of our incredibly indulgent vegan loaded fries and vegan cheesecake,” said Frankie & Benny’s head of food development, Holly Davies.

Vegan fry up

Back to its heritage

While Frankie & Benny’s research showed that customers wanted more vegan and vegetarian options, there was also significant interest in classic Italian-American fare.

As a result, updated faves are also reinvigorating the menu, from mini basil bread sticks and tortellini ‘nduja, to pollo Peppadew pizza and a lemon meringue bomb.

A choice of salads has been added to lighten up the menu as well, with options like mozzarella and tomato, Rialto (salmon), Capra (goat’s cheese) and Dolce Vita (blue cheese).

“This spring we are really excited to be introducing the types of dishes that our customers have been asking for, as they tell us that they want to see more of our Italian-American heritage on the menu,” said Davies. “Listening to our guests is something that we are proud to be taking seriously through the introduction of some recognisable classics, new ingredients and our own Frankie & Benny’s twists on some previous favourites. Take our new Meatballs al Forno starter, an homage to all that is great about Italian-American food, a celebration of great quality simple flavours, done well and served with heart.”

As well as going back to the chain’s roots, guests will also see the introduction of new seafood options, spicy dishes and alcohol-free drinks, added Davies.

“We are really looking forward to our guests’ reaction to this new menu as it is the first of many exciting new ideas that we plan to put in front of them this year,” she commented.

Meatballs al forno

CBD and summer at Crussh

Meanwhile, cashing in on the cannabis craze that is sneaking over from America, Crussh claims it has become the first food-to-go retailer on the high street to offer CBD oil to its customers, with the option to add the compound to coffee as a booster for £1.50.

It is also introducing new items onto a refreshed summer menu, including tapping into the trend for authentic cuisines with two Indian-inspired fit bowls.

The first is a chicken tikka with turmeric cauliflower rice, kachumber salad, pickled red onion, mint raita dressing and crispy chickpeas. The other option is vegan and consists of spiced chickpea with cauliflower and coriander rice, fresh slaw with nigella seeds, pickled red onions, coriander and tamarind chutney.

Other items coming to the menu, which launches this week, include a chicken and chorizo hotpot with butter beans, roasted prepper in a smoky tomato sauce and brown and red rice, topped with spinach, yoghurt and herbs at the counter.

New snacking options have also been developed, such as mocha protein power balls made with almonds, whey protein, dates, cacao and espresso, and Barebells protein bars in flavours like hazelnut and nougat as well as salted peanut.

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