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Watermelon proliferates on menus in the summer

The seasonal fruit appears in drinks, smoothies and bowls

Every summer sees a surge of watermelon on menus, but this year seems to be particularly prolific when it comes to the seasonal fruit, particularly in drinks, where it’s often touted for its health benefits as well as its flavor.

That’s the approach that Main Squeeze Juice Co. took when it brought back its seasonal watermelon offers in May. The 28-unit chain based in New Orleans said the fruit, being made of 92% water, allows us to hydrate naturally “without sacrificing taste.” They added coconut water, pineapple and lemon to its Watermelon Hydrate Juice, augmenting the drink’s health halo, while the Watermelon Heat Juice has lime, serrano pepper (which the chain said boosts immunity) and Himalayan salt.

Nekter Juice Bar took a similar approach when the 170-unit chain based in Costa Mesa, Calif., brought back its watermelon limited-time offers for the summer

“There’s really no way to beat the heat, stay hydrated and reap valuable nutritional benefits than with a cooling beverage featuring summer’s favorite fruit,” co-founder and chief visionary officer Alexis Schulze said in a release announcing the returning of the Watermelon Sorbet Bowl, Watermelon Cooler Juice and Watermelon Berry Smoothie. “We’ve created these watermelon-forward items to taste indulgent while remaining fresh, healthy and nutritional. Our guests continue to love them every year!”

Clean Juice CEO Landon Eckles also praised watermelon’s hydrating ability and its antioxidant qualities, when the 200-unit chain based in Charlotte, N.C., brought back its watermelon juice, bowl and smoothie for the summer.

Juice it Up! president and CEO Susan Taylor had similar observations in June, when the 100-ynit chain based in Newport Beach, Calif., rolled out its “Sandía Loca” (or “crazy watermelon” in Spanish) line, including a smoothie and a bowl, both spiced with the popular Mexican seasoning Tajín.

“The super hydrating watermelon is arguably the most quintessential summertime fruit, and we wanted to evoke the ultimate pool party and picnic vibes with our newest innovation, the Sandía Loca Bowl and Smoothie,” she said. “Not only does watermelon pack a ton of flavor and functionality on its own, but we’ve also brought in ingredients like cucumber, pineapple, strawberries, coconut and Tajín to add refreshing layers of taste and texture for a flavor fiesta that lasts all summer long!” 

Watermelon items actually are popular all year, round; the National Watermelon Promotion Board says menu items featuring the fruit they represent have been added to restaurant menus every month for the past decade.

Indeed, Punch Bowl Social added a Watermelon Palmer to its drink menu in February. Made with watermelon tea syrup, lemon juice and water, it’s $6.

And in early May, anticipating summer, TGI Fridays introduced the Fri-Yay cocktail, made with RumHaven Coconut Rum, Skyy Vodka, Monin Classic Watermelon syrup, lime juice and club soda. The exact price varies by location.

Alcoholic beverages are a popular place for watermelon. In fact, Datassential reports that it’s on more than 10% of cocktail lists its presence has grown by 15% in the past four years. This summer Watermelon Margaritas have been added to the menu at Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant, a 26-unit restaurant out of Plano, Texas, and San Antonia-based Taco Cabana, which has 143 units. In fact Watermelon Margaritas account for more than a quarter of all menu items using the fruit, according to Datassential.

Take a look at watermelon items currently on menus at restaurant chains across the country.

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