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Wendy's goes back to salads

Wendy’s has introduced four new “premium” salads as part of the hamburger chain’s menu overhaul, which focuses on more fresh foods and may soon include a slate of new breakfast items.

The new salads are the latest mixed greens from the No. 3 burger brand, which is known for pioneering fast-food salads nearly 30 years ago, first as a salad bar and then with its Garden Sensations introduction in 2002. Both a menu and marketing overhaul has been the mission of Wendy's for nearly two years following its merger with Arby’s and new leadership under Roland Smith.

Wendy’s newest salads, which are made with nine types of greens, include the Apple Pecan Chicken, Baja, BLT Cobb and Spicy Chicken Caesar, with other options still in test. The salads have a suggested retail price of $5.99.

“We are raising the bar on salads again,” said Ken Calwell, chief marketing officer for the Dublin, Ohio-based chain that totals more than 6,600 units worldwide. “Wendy’s new premium salads offer the high-quality ingredients and choice that our customers crave.”

The Apple Pecan Chicken includes Granny Smith and red apples as well as cayenne pepper, warm grilled chicken and a pomegranate vinaigrette. The Cobb features blue cheese, hard-boiled eggs, warm grilled chicken and an avocado-ranch dressing. Pico de gallo, guacamole and creamy red jalapeno dressing come on the Baja Salad. The Spicy Chicken Caesar includes Wendy’s Spicy Chicken and lemon garlic Caesar dressing. All the dressings have no preservatives, Wendy's said.

During a visit with Nation’s Restaurant News on Thursday, Calwell said “this is the first of our new inventions.”

Indeed, Wendy’s has been working on a menu and brand overhaul for nearly two years to turn around stagnant sales. The plans included a focus on higher-quality offerings, which has long been a Wendy’s hallmark, a new breakfast strategy, additional beverages, and a new marketing plan. During the past year, the chain has made bold moves, introducing boneless wings, hiring a new chief marketing officer and working with a new ad agency.

Wendy’s also confirmed that it continues to test a breakfast menu, which some industry observers said may be introduced as early as next year.

In test now at select locations in Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Phoenix is a line of breakfast dishes such as an “artisan” sandwich that has a “cracked egg,” hollandaise sauce, Asiago and choice of bacon or sausage for $1.99. The warm cranberry and oatmeal bar, which is similar to a muffin top, is testing for $1.29.

A “fire-roasted” burrito features shredded pepper-Jack cheese, “fire-roasted” salsa, apple-wood smoked bacon for $1.99. The panini, priced at $2.99, comes with bacon or sausage, cheddar and Asiago cheeses. The prices listed were cited from a Wendy’s location in Kansas City.

Contact Pamela Parseghian at [email protected].

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