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New menu items heat up summer

From savory to sweet, healthful to indulgent, restaurants begin summer LTOs

With warm weather finally approaching, a number of restaurant chains are looking to heat up their menus with the introduction of a range of new summer selections.

Among the brands introducing new items this week are Cold Stone Creamery, Bruegger’s Bakeries, White Castle and Luby’s.

Cold Stone Creamery: The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based ice cream chain with more than 1,500 locations in 17 countries is jumping into the growing savory dessert arena with two new flavors.

The chain will kick off the limited time only summer selections with Lemon Poppy Seed Ice Cream this month. The item, which Cold Stone says tastes like a lemon poppy seed muffin, features bright yellow ice cream sprinkled with poppy seeds.

In July, the dessert specialist will introduce herbs to its dessert selections when it debuts Strawberry Basil Ice Cream, inspired by a traditional Italian combination.

Later in the summer, Cold Stone plans to launch another new LTO flavor, Mojito Sorbet, a nonalcoholic selection flavored with a lime and mint infusion.

All items are part of Cold Stone’s Gold Cone Collection.

Ray Karam, Cold Stone Creamery Tastemaster, said, “No culinary trend is out of reach for the ice cream industry…The tastes you’ll experience will remind you of your favorite bakery items, herbal fruit blends and even summery cocktails.

White Castle: The iconic burger chain in Columbus, Ohio, also is offering customers some indulgent choices this summer. Jumping on the booming bacon bandwagon, White Castle is debuting two new LTO sandwiches — a Bacon and Cheddar Slider and Bacon and Ranch Slider.

In addition, the 400-plus-unit chain introduced Loaded Fries — thick-cut fries topped with ranch dressing, cheese sauce and bacon crumbles.

“Bacon is one of the top popular culinary ingredients among restaurants these days and White Castle prides itself on being current with what’s hot in the foodservice industry,” said Jamie Richardson, vice president of corporate relations. “Everything’s better with bacon.”

The introduction is being supported through May with online couponing on Facebook, enabling patrons to get a free Bacon and Cheddar Slider or Bacon and Ranch Slider with the purchase of any Sack Meal or for $3 off one Crave Case filled with 30 Sliders.

Luby’s: The 96-unit chain, based in Houston, is reintroducing three popular LTO entrées for the summer months. Originally presented in 2007, Luby’s Mushroom Chicken Madeira features pan-grilled chicken breast with Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs, top with melted cheese, roasted mushrooms and a Madeira wine sauce. The dish is priced at $8.69.

Honey BBQ Chicken, another popular LTO, also is being reintroduced. The dish, a chicken breast topped with sweet honey hickory barbecue sauce and onion rings, is priced at $8.99.

Luby’s third entrée is Grilled Summer Tilapia, which is dusted with ranch seasoning, pan-grilled and served with cheese tortellini and grilled vegetables. It is priced at $10.69.

Each entrée is served with two sides and a roll, and is available through August.

Bruegger’s Bakeries: The Burlington, Vt.-based, 300-unit bagel chain is taking a lighter route and launching a low-calorie menu addition, the “Skinny Bagel.” The company says the new item has the same taste and texture as a classic bagel, but contains 100 fewer calories.

Jim Greco, Bruegger’s chief executive, said, “With 62 percent of national consumers planning on eating healthier in 2011, Bruegger’s is excited to offer our guests a healthier option without sacrificing any of the flavor they have come to expect from our bagels.”

This month Bruegger’s also will start rolling out a new turkey sausage option, which will be included with the new low-calorie bagel in the Skinny Zesty Egg White Sandwich. An LTO breakfast item, it contains about 410 calories and includes Swiss cheese and sundried tomato spread. Recommended pricing is $3.99.

Skinny Bagels served dry are priced at about $1.05 each, depending upon the location.

Contact Paul Frumkin at [email protected].

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