Quaker Steak & Lube, probably the nation’s only motor-sports-themed casual dining chain, is well known for its chicken wings and the couple of dozen different sauces that customers can put on them.
They’re not so much known for their nachos. But Katy Malaniak, food & beverage director of the 43-unit operation, is hoping to do something about that this summer with limited-time offers centered around melted cheese.
That’s what she told me this afternoon when she stopped by NRN’s booth at the NRA show.
She said the chain’s specials in the third quarter of 2011 are all going to be about spicy queso, based on a directive from their menu committee that their nachos needed work.
So she’s going to serve up nachos with black beans, corn, spicy queso and possibly some sort of meat — spiced hamburger maybe.
Also on the menu will be a “Hot Mess Burger,” with spicy queso, pico de gallo and jalapeños, and “Texas Hold ’em Barbecue Pork Sliders,” which is pulled pork with hot queso.
The items are simple enough, and that’s part of Malaniak’s strategy, since some of the current specials are operationally complex by comparison.
The springtime specials have all been about this jalapeño ranch dressing that one of their suppliers hooked them up with.
One’s a Chicken BLT, which is a chicken salad with lettuce, tomato, bacon and jalapeño ranch in a whole-wheat wrap.
Another is pulled pork, cheddar jack cheese, fresh slaw, cilantro and chopped onion rings with that spicy ranch in a whole-wheat wrap.
Finally they have a Philadelphia-inspired cheesesteak sandwich made with steak, that ranch sauce, a deep-fried pickle and Swiss cheese.
The fried-pickle, like the onion rings in the pulled pork sandwich, is already a popular appetizer.
They also have a ranch-free Philly Cheesesteak, that has chopped onion rings, barbecue sauce and cheddar jack cheese.
But it sounds like the big hit of the spring was The Lube’s bar jar promotion. Basically, they served lemonade, limeade and orangeade — spiked with vodka or rum — in jars with mug handles on them. The bartender puts the lid on the jar, shakes it and hands it to the server who also shakes it at the table for full effect. The diners get to take the jar home for free, forever reminding them of their awesome dining experience.
Coming soon at a Lube near you: Margaritas and Sangrias in jars.
Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @FoodWritersDiary.