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Restaurants cook up barbecue specials

Restaurants cook up barbecue specials

As the nation celebrates the July Fourth holiday, a variety of restaurants, from Arby's to Tropical Smoothie Cafe, are firing up their barbecue-theme specials.

Arby's recently introduced the BBQ Bacon Cheddar Roastburger, which features the chain's signature roast beef topped with cheddar cheese, pepper bacon, crispy onions, tomato, pickle slices and barbecue sauce on a roll. The sandwich marks the latest extension of Atlanta-based Arby's Roastburger line since it was introduced in March.

Arby’s is promoting its line extension by offering a free BBQ Bacon Cheddar Roastburger with the purchase of any size drink to anyone who sends the text message BBQ to 27297 on July 9. The offer can be redeemed through July 19 at participating units.

The 3,700-unit chain will be bundling the new sandwich with a small order of fries and drinks as a $5 combo meal in July and August, and featuring it in television advertising celebrating the last day of school. In the commercial, featuring the Alice Cooper song “School's Out,” teachers and students alike race out of the school as the final bell rings and race to Arby’s to celebrate.

Arby’s is also offering Mandarin Peach Iced FruitTea and Orange Cream Swirl shakes this summer.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe, a 280-unit fast-casual chain out of Destin, Fla., has launched a trio of barbecue sandwiches and lemonade smoothies to go with them. The sandwiches include a barbecue chicken cheddar flat bread, a barbecue turkey club and a barbecue chicken island wrap. Available through Aug. 29, the flat bread is $3.99 and the other sandwiches range from $4.99 to $6.79, depending on the location.

To go with the sandwiches, the chain is offering three lemonade smoothies, in blueberry, strawberry and banana flavors, all made with turbinado sugar, for $3.99-$4.29. The banana lemonade smoothie is marketed as an “island” smoothie, explains Mike Rotondo, the company’s vice president of operations, because banana lemonade “doesn’t immediately appeal” to consumers. However, he said, “When people sample it, they love it.”

Tropical Smoothie Cafe's lemonade smoothie LTO comes as the chain is rolling out green tea and coffee smoothies, which were tested in about 20 percent of the chain’s stores last winter. Rotondo said the gradual rollout of those items would be completed in August.

Other chains have already added barbecue to their summer menus. Golden, Colo.-based Boston Market is featuring Summer BBQ selections at its 530 restaurants through Aug. 31. A sweet and spicy barbecue sauce is incorporated into several menu items, including the chain's signature rotisserie chicken, a new beef brisket dish and a chicken sandwich. To go with the barbecue items, Boston Market is offering such seasonal side dishes as baked beans, coleslaw, fruit salad and potato salad.

Barbecue chicken is also on the menu this summer at El Pollo Loco, a Costa Mesa, Calif.-based quick-service concept with more than 400 locations.El Pollo Loco's barbecue chicken, a popular limited-time offer in the past, will be available through July 26 as an alternative to grilled chicken or on a new BBQ Chicken Slider. The slider, which sells for 99 cents, is made with barbecue chicken and coleslaw on grilled mini roll.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected].

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