Archive for February, 2012

India May Top China as Hottest Restaurant Growth Market

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Move over, China?

India may be ready to supplant China as the top growth market for Western quick-service brands, according to a new research note from Sara Senatore, securities analyst for Bernstein Research.

Based on projections that India’s economy could soon outpace China’s, and recent moves by McDonald’s Corp., Yum! Brands Inc., Starbucks Corp. and Dunkin’ Brands Inc., “the focus on the Indian foodservice market has intensified,” Senatore wrote.

India’s economic growth could exceed China’s as soon as 2014, the report said, adding that much of Indian consumers’ discretionary income likely would go toward spending at restaurants. This means the quick-service market in India could double by that year, she wrote.

“At $13 billion, the Indian market for fast food is just less than one-fifth that of China’s, but it is growing fully 4 percentage points faster — 19 percent annually versus 15 percent in China,” Senatore wrote. “Importantly, fast-food growth has consistently outpaced income growth in India by a factor of 50 percent, as Indian consumers disproportionately allocate incremental income to luxury goods like Westernized food.”

McDonald’s and Yum recently told investors they would accelerate growth in India, while Starbucks and Dunkin’ will open their first outlets there this year. Other brands, like Baskin-Robbins and Domino’s Pizza, already have several hundred locations in India.

Quick-service restaurants investing in India also could reap a “demographic dividend” from India’s youthful population, Senatore added.

“Unlike in China, where the population bulge sits in middle age, India’s largest population cohorts are its youngest,” she wrote. “Because eating habits are established at a fairly young age, this bodes well for growth. Young consumers cite taste, variety and limited time as reasons to eat fast food; we anticipate that these factors will only grow with time.”

By 2015, Indian consumers could generate annual sales of $1 billion for Yum, $800 million for McDonald’s and $80 million for Starbucks, Bernstein Research estimated.

In late 2010, McDonald’s said it would grow its system of restaurants in India by about 25 percent annually.

McDonald’s currently is the sales leader for Western quick-service brands in India, Senatore wrote, ringing up sales of $206 million in 2010, compared with $98 million for KFC, $38 million for Subway and $27 million for Baskin-Robbins.

However, during from 2006 to 2010, KFC recorded the highest growth in systemwide sales and unit counts of that group, with a five-year compound annual growth rate of 73 percent in sales and 57 percent in locations, outpacing 26 percent and 20 percent, respectively, for McDonald’s.

Last November, Yum separated its India-based restaurant operations from its Yum Restaurants International reporting division, creating a new Yum Restaurants India. The move conveyed the country’s importance as a growth market on par with China.

Yum Restaurants India president Niren Chaudhary has said on several occasions that Yum’s growth in China is the model for India.

“India today is at the same inflection point China was before it took off 10 years ago,” he said at the company’s investor conference last year.

The company said at that meeting that it would aim to have 550 restaurants in India by 2015, led by KFC, which surpassed Pizza Hut last year as Yum’s biggest chain in the country.

Coffee consumption in India lags far behind tea, but coffee’s growing popularity gives Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, both of which plan to enter India in 2012, room for aggressive growth, Senatore wrote.

Starbucks aims to have 50 units in the country with joint-venture partner Tata Global Beverages by year’s end. Meanwhile, Dunkin’ Donuts signed a franchise development deal with Jubilant FoodWorks, the exclusive franchisee in India for Domino’s Pizza, and hopes to open 100 restaurants there over the next five years. Starbucks has previously said its first outlet in India would open by August, and Dunkin’ said its first restaurant would be ready by June.

Jubilant FoodWorks operated 439 Domino’s restaurants in India as of its third quarter ended Dec. 31, 2011. Same-store sales in that system grew 30.1 percent, Jubilant said.

Read more: http://nrn.com/article/india-may-top-china-hottest-restaurant-growth-market?page=0,1&ad=news#ixzz1nbj1rHxY

Gas Prices Rising, Restaurants Not Yet Suffering

Monday, February 27th, 2012

The national average price for a gallon of gasoline has climbed 11 cents in two weeks, and is 40 cents more compared with a year earlier, forcing consumers to brace for more pain at the pump.

But restaurant brands are not yet feeling the effects.

“The rise in [gas] prices has been gradual and almost part of expectations in today’s economy,” David Stidham, vice president of marketing for the 445-unit quick-service chain Culver’s, said. “We’re still not seeing the quick-jerk stoppage in our guest experiences. We’re still growing [transactions] and sales.”

Many restaurants suffered from the abrupt disappearance of consumers’ discretionary spending during the gas-price shocks of 2008, but this year they show positive sales trends as gas prices have increased, especially since January.

Culver’s had a 12-percent increase in same-store sales for January and is on pace to have a double-digit increase for February as well, it said.

The NRN-MillerPulse Survey reported an industry-wide 4.9-percent same-store sales increase in January, which compared with a 1.7-percent rise in January 2011. Respondents to that survey cited favorable weather and strong guest traffic for the increase.

Elsewhere, McDonald’s posted a 7.8-percent increase in domestic same-store sales in January. And Texas Roadhouse officials said in their fourth-quarter earnings call that the brand’s same-store sales are up 6.7 percent through the first six weeks of 2012.

Consumers historically have altered their purchasing behavior for things like restaurants when gas prices climb above $3 per gallon, said David Portalatin, director of industry analysis for market research firm The NPD Group. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average national gas price was $3.59 per gallon on Monday, up from $3.48 on Feb. 6, and $3.19 a year earlier.

But, since gas prices have been above $3 since December 2010, consumers have accepted them “almost as the new normal,” Culver’s Stidham said.

He noted that a more devastating financial and psychological threshold of $4 per gallon could create pause.

NPD says gas price increases will most likely continue. Americans will in fact have fewer dollars to spend at restaurants, as it remains expensive for them to fill their gas tanks, NPD’s Portalatin said. In 2011, drivers in the United States purchased 1.7 percent fewer gallons of gasoline compared with 2010, but they paid 24 percent more at the pump, he noted.

“Consumers are trying to cut back spending at the pump by driving less, but it’s almost a futile exercise,” Portalatin said. “There’s no doubt that the consumer is losing share of wallet at the pump despite trying to reduce consumption. They can’t keep up.”

Read more: http://nrn.com/article/gas-prices-rising-restaurants-not-yet-suffering?ad=operations#ixzz1nbgaHbkT

Famous Dave’s Plots Growth of Fast-Casual Concept

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Famous Dave’s of America Inc. plans to open more units of its new fast-casual barbecue concept, as well as expand its core Famous Dave’s brand, chief executive Christopher O’Donnell said Thursday in a call discussing fourth-quarter earnings.

The company opened 10 restaurants in 2011, and is looking to open as many as 15 units in 2012, O’Donnell said. One of those restaurants will be Famous Dave’s first international unit, in Winnipeg, Canada.

At least two more locations of its “barbecue shack” fast-casual prototype, which features counter service in a slimmed-down, 65-seat space, are scheduled to open this year in the Portland, Ore., market.

“Sometimes people forget that we’re a growth concept,” O’Donnell said.

The first fast-casual prototype opened late last year in Eden Prairie, Minn., not far from Famous Dave’s Minneapolis headquarters. The new format would be instrumental to accelerating growth in future years and reaching the company’s potential for 400 to 500 domestic locations, O’Donnell said.

“We look at it as a future of about five to seven years,” he said. “We anticipate that the counter-service model will help as a blend [with traditional units]. We see the opportunity for 400 new locations domestically, and the additional 100-unit variance is up to how we utilize the counter-service prototype.”

The barbecue shack prototype would give current and future franchisees a way to further diversify their restaurant and real estate portfolios, he added.

“We certainly still want to continue providing some options [for franchisees], and we’re seeing nice success with the Eden Prairie location,” O’Donnell said. “It’s early, but the prototype has the opportunity to be an additional growth vehicle that would get us into tier-two markets and let franchisees solidify their positioning and grab market share.”

Chief financial officer Diana Purcell added that Famous Dave’s is offering an incentive to franchisees of 50 percent off the franchise fee if they can open a new barbecue shack location this year “to generate interest and support for that footprint.” No other royalty reductions, which the company has used in the past, are in place at this time, she said.

For the fourth quarter ended Jan. 1, Famous Dave’s net income fell 25 percent to $414,000, due to asset impairment charges. Revenue rose 3.6 percent to $37.5 million, compared with $36.2 million a year earlier. Same-store sales for the quarter increased 3.6 percent at company-owned locations and 2.1 percent at franchised restaurants.

Famous Dave’s operates 54 restaurants and franchises another 132 locations in 36 states.

Read more: http://nrn.com/article/famous-dave%E2%80%99s-plots-growth-fast-casual-concept?ad=news#ixzz1mwtvDtWF

Restaurants Debut Fish Dishes for Lent

Monday, February 20th, 2012

With Lent starting next Wednesday, a number of restaurant chains are introducing limited-time offers for customers avoiding meat during the 40-day period leading up to Easter.

Panda Express has rolled out Peppercorn Shrimp, a marinated shrimp dish with asparagus, chopped yellow onions and red bell peppers stir-fried with a sauce made with Thai green peppercorns, for $4.

The Rosemead, Calif.-based quick-service chain is offering a free Peppercorn Shrimp entrée to Facebook fans on Feb. 22, the first day of Lent. The dish is available at the chain’s nearly 1,500 restaurants until April 10, two days after Easter.

Casual-dining chain Daphne’s California Greek of Carlsbad, Calif., has added three shrimp dishes to its menu. The new items all feature grilled shrimp marinated with garlic, paprika and other spices.

The mango shrimp salad combines the shrimp with mango salsa, chipotle flavor, mixed greens, feta and a garlic- and lemon-flavored balsamic hummus dressing. It’s served with warm multi-grain or regular pita bread, and sells for $9.29.

The shrimp is also a new option in the 56-unit chain’s Classic Pita. The $6.99 item includes grilled shrimp, chopped Roma tomatoes, lettuce, red onions and Daphne’s Classic Greek dressing. The item is also available with fried shrimp.

Daphne’s Shrimp Selects Combo is an $8.29 combination deal comprised of a skewer of the grilled shrimp, a choice of two sides, pita bread and a regular fountain beverage.

Fast-casual chain Taco Cabana has brought back its seasonal Shrimp Tampico for the fifth year in a row.

The seafood is marinated in a mix of chipotle and ancho chiles, and grilled with garlic, lime and cilantro. It’s available in tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas or in a crispy Cabana Bowl. The 159-unit San Antonio-based chain also has brought back its pineapple salsa as a limited-time offer to go with the shrimp. Shrimp Tampico items start at $4.99.

Jack’s Wayback Burgers is bringing back its codfish sandwich for the season, starting on Feb. 22. The Cheshire, Conn.-based quick-service chain offers the fried fish fillet topped with house-made tartar sauce throughout the season. Prices vary within the chain’s 44 units, but sandwiches have an average price of $5.49, the company said.

Rubio’s, which popularized the Baja-style fish taco in the Southwest, has no shortage of Lenten options, but the 197-unit quick-service chain based in Carlsbad, Calif., recently rolled out two new beer-battered fish items.

The avocado corn fish taco features beer-battered fish with white chipotle sauce, avocado corn relish, lime, Mexican cheese, roasted poblano peppers, onions and red bell peppers.

The sesame soy fish taco features the fried fish in a flour tortilla with a spring lettuce mix, sesame soy sauce, wasabi crema, sliced avocado and a squeeze of lime.

Chief executive Ralph Rubio said the new items were permanent additions to the menu, and added that he is testing three new salmon tacos: mango habanero grilled salmon, pineapple lemon grass salmon and chimichurri salmon.

Read more: http://nrn.com/article/restaurants-debut-fish-dishes-lent?ad=news#ixzz1mwlFodP0

BJ’s Plans Growth Outside West

Monday, February 20th, 2012

BJ’s Restaurants Inc. will begin testing television advertising and will roll out a new loyalty program in the second quarter, the company said Thursday.

After reporting a 42-percent increase in net income for the fourth quarter and a 5.1-percent same-store sales increase, BJ’s chair and chief executive Jerry Deitchle told analysts in a call that positive sales growth has continued into 2012.

For the first six weeks of the year, same-store sales are up 4 percent, lapping a 7-percent increase for the same period last year, Deitchle said.

The year ahead will bring more efforts to drive sales, but the chain also is positioning itself for growth outside its home base in the West. BJ’s 115 locations are spread across 13 states.

BJ’s has long envisioned national growth of up to 300 restaurants, and Deitchle said the company recently hired a consulting group to evaluate its domestic potential.

The chain now sees up to 425 possible BJ’s locations nationally, although growth will remain “careful and measured.”

Deitchle also indicated that the company might be open to joint ventures, although none are currently planned.

BJ’s first East Coast location is expected to open in the Washington, D.C., area at the end of this year or in early 2013.

This year, 15 new restaurants are planned and one smaller-format grill unit will be relocated a larger site.

Executives also discussed:

Television advertising test: A small test of television advertising will begin in the second quarter in two markets and likely will involve only a handful of restaurants, Deitchle said.

Although BJ’s is a relatively small chain, and it may be early to consider national advertising, “It’s important to begin our learning of what benefit, if any, TV might offer BJ’s,” Deitchle said.
Research has indicated that BJ’s brand awareness is still relatively low, although once guests try BJ’s, they tend to quickly become “brand advocates,” he said.

Loyalty building: A new loyalty program for BJ’s, which tests have indicated will help build both repeat visits and spending, is planned for the second quarter.

Deitchle said the program will not be like other chains, which reward repeat visits with food or drink discounts. Instead, BJ’s guests will be invited to accumulate points toward experiential rewards, like a chance to win a trip, he said.

As a casual-dining brand, a loyalty program at BJ’s is not likely to work the same way it might at a restaurant that guests visit every day. “It’s not going to have the impact that a loyalty program at Panera might have on sales and margins, but it will have an impact,” Deitchle said.

Off premise: BJ’s also is looking at catering, as well as improving online ordering and to-go business, which has dipped through the recession, Deitchle said.

To capture more take-out orders, the chain plans to test this year a call center that would interface with BJ’s point-of-sale system, “like the pizza guys do,” Deitchle said.

Off-premise sales now account for about 5.5 percent to 6 percent of total sales, he said, “but we could do better.”

Menu initiatives: BJ’s has new products in the pipeline, and recently introduced Asian-inspired dishes such as kung pao chicken and orange chicken, along with miso salmon, Thai salmon and various teriyaki options.

New lunch entrées starting at $5.95 have been added, including a chicken quesadilla and a one-topping mini pizza with salad.

The new Fan Burger line, introduced in November, has been a hit, as has a more premium ribeye steak offering, said BJ’s executive vice president and chief restaurant operations officer Wayne Jones.

Next week, the chain will roll out its second annual Seafood Celebration with such additions as a new mahi mahi dish on the lower-calorie Enlightened menu.

In addition, a menu format revamp is planned later this year with the goal of better highlighting higher-margin items.

“These are long-term investments that will help BJ’s compete for market share in the long run,” Deitchle said.

Read more: http://nrn.com/article/bjs-plans-growth-outside-west?page=0,1&ad=news#ixzz1mwbvsge2

Dunkin’ Brands: U.S. Units Will Double in 20 Years

Monday, February 13th, 2012

New menu items and innovative marketing brought Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. back to profitability in the fourth quarter of 2011, the parent of the Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins chains said Thursday.

The Canton, Mass.-based franchisor said it expected strong performance through 2012.

The company reported $11.6 million in profit for the three months ended December 31, compared with a loss of $15.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2010.

“We had an incredibly strong finish to the year,” chief executive Nigel Travis said.

The “key ingredients,” he said, of its performance — innovative products and marketing — are in place to help the company achieve its goal of more than doubling the number of U.S. Dunkin’ Donuts units to 15,000 within the next 20 years.

Dunkin’ Donuts’ domestic operations, totaling 7,015 locations, account for more than 70 percent of the company’s total revenue. The remainder comes from 2,457 domestic and 4,254 international Baskin-Robbins units and 3,068 international Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants.

New products, marketing lift Dunkin’

New products helped bring new customers to Dunkin’ Donuts, Travis said, noting that the smoked sausage breakfast sandwich introduced as a limited-time offer in the fourth quarter was one of the most successful such offers in the company’s history.

A Texas Toast grilled cheese sandwich introduced in December also helped drive traffic after 11 a.m., Travis said. Four other sandwiches have since been added, helping bring customers in after breakfast, he said.

Both the number of customers and average check amounts increased in the fourth quarter, but Travis declined to provide further details.

In the third quarter, Dunkin’ Donuts introduced single-serving K Cups, which it marketed during the holiday season. Travis said they accounted for a little less than 30 percent of the 7.4 percent same-store sales increase Dunkin’ Donuts’ U.S. division reported for the fourth quarter. Sales of the cups were not cannibalizing sales of packaged or brewed coffee in restaurants, he said.

Marketing also drove sales, Travis said, adding that Dunkin’ Donuts’ “What are you drinking?” campaign was effective and flexible enough to be adapted to different markets. The chain’s continued sponsorship of ESPN’s Field Pass on Monday Night Countdown contributed to its national visibility, he also noted.

Such visibility is important to the chain’s expansion plans, which entail moving into new markets, particularly west of the Mississippi and away from its Northeast stronghold.

Dunkin’ Donuts opened a net 243 new restaurants domestically in 2011, of which 120 were opened in the fourth quarter. More than 80 percent of the new locations were outside core markets, but more than 90 percent were opened with existing franchisees, indicating that the parent company held a good relationship with its franchise partners, Travis said.

‘Bullish about 2012′

Looking forward, chief financial officer Neil Moses said he expected same-store sales for domestic Dunkin’ Donuts units to increase between 3.5 percent and 4.5 percent in 2012.

Moses said he expected a net 260 to 280 U.S. Dunkin’ Donuts units to open this year, and that the process of closing underperforming Baskin-Robbins units would continue with the net closing of between 60 and 80 locations.

Internationally, he said he expected between 350 and 450 units to open, weighted toward Baskin-Robbins.

“We’re bullish about 2012,” Travis said. “We think we have some terrific plans.”

Nearly 80 percent of domestic Dunkin’ Donuts units have installed a new standardized retail technology platform, which should help franchisees manage labor and inventory, better understand food costs, improve service and help facilitate future initiatives, such as mobile payments and enhanced loyalty programs, Travis said.

Nearly 100 percent of domestic Baskin-Robbins units are expected to be on the new POS system by the end of 2012, he said.

In terms of food costs, the company signed an agreement early this year with its franchisee-owned procurement and distribution cooperative that would allow for uniform product cost throughout the system. The pricing system would be phased in over the next three years and would benefit all franchisees, but particularly those in new markets, which traditionally pay more for supplies. Travis estimated franchisees in new markets would see a food cost reduction of between two and three percentage points.

Dunkin’ Brands’ revenue for the fourth quarter totaled $168.5 million, up 12.5 percent from $149.8 million in the same quarter a year earlier.

Revenue for the full year totaled $628.2 million, up 8.8 percent from $577.1 million in 2010.

Read more: http://nrn.com/article/dunkin-brands-us-units-will-double-20-years?page=0,1&ad=news#ixzz1mHydAMPn

Restaurants’ Trans Fat Bans May Have Positive Health Effects

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Reductions in restaurants’ use of trans fats may have played a role in declining levels of the fats in the blood of white American adults between 2000 and 2009, a Centers for Disease Control study found Wednesday.

The level of trans fats in those who participated in the study fell 58 percent from 2000–2009, a time period in which many restaurant companies reduced their use of oils that contained man-made trans fats.

Unlike other fats, the CDC said trans fats are not essential to human health, and that research indicates that high consumption of trans fats is linked to cardiovascular disease.

“The 58 percent decline shows substantial progress that should help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in adults,” said Christopher Portier, director of the Atlanta-based CDC′s National Center for Environmental Health.

CDC researchers randomly selected white participants ages 20 or older from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for the years 2000 and 2009. It said the purpose was to examine trans-fatty acid blood levels before and after enactment of U.S. Food & Drug Administration trans fat regulations in 2003.

The regulations, which took effect in 2006, required manufacturers of food and some dietary supplements to list the amount of trans-fatty acids, or TFAs, on the “Nutrition Facts” panel of product labels. Some local and state health departments also took steps to help consumers reduce their daily consumption by requiring restaurants to limit their use of TFAs in food and increase public awareness campaigns about the health risks associated with TFAs.

“Findings from the CDC study demonstrate the effectiveness of these efforts in reducing blood [trans-fatty acids] and highlight that further reductions in the levels of trans fats must remain an important public health goal,” Portier said.

Though not bound by the FDA regulations, some restaurant chains voluntarily eliminated or greatly reduced the use of man-made trans fats before or soon after the requirement became law for manufacturers, including Uno Chicago Grill and Panera Bread Co.

Many, if not most, national and regional chains have since followed that strategy. In some cases, the efforts began on a local or statewide basis, as bans on trans fats in restaurant foods were adopted by municipalities or states, including New York City in 2006 and California in 2008.

Some restaurant chains — including KFC and Burger King — reduced or eliminated the use of trans fats due to legal action. Those chains were sued for their use of partially hydrogenated oils containing man-made trans fats by the Centers for Science in the Public Interest.

KFC said the CSPI dropped its suit in 2006 after the chain switched to trans-fat-free cooking oil. A Burger King spokeswoman said its suit “was dismissed because the CSPI had not met the basic legal requirement of alleging someone was actually harmed by trans fats.” Burger King stopped using oil containing man-made trans fats in 2008.

But debates over trans fats in restaurant foods continue.

In early 2011, the Agriculture Committee of the Nebraska State Legislature voted to “indefinitely postpone” legislation that would have prevented quick-service restaurant operators from including toys in kids’ meals that had specific levels of man-made trans fats.

The CDC said since the new study did not include a review of the tactics used to reduce consumption of trans-fatty acids, it is not clear how significant a role restaurants played in the reduction of trans fat levels in blood.

“The decrease may have occurred because of the FDA regulations requiring the listing of TFAs, efforts by state and local health departments with restaurants, and overall increased awareness of health risks associated with TFAs,” Von Roebuck said.

The study, the results of which were published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, marked the first time CDC researchers have been able to measure trans fats in human blood, the CDC said.

Portier said additional studies are under way to examine trans-fatty acid levels in the blood of other adult racial and ethnic groups, children and adolescents.

Read more: http://nrn.com/article/restaurants-trans-fat-bans-may-have-positive-health-effects?ad=news#ixzz1mHca6Zbq

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Makes First International Push

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Family sports pub operator Beef ‘O’ Brady’s has inked its first international franchise agreement to open restaurants in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

The Tampa, Fla.-based casual-dining chain signed the deal with master licensee Thimar Investment, a publicly traded company based in Saudi Arabia.

Thimar said it plans to introduce its first Beef ‘O’ Brady’s in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia, by midsummer. The firm also has plans to open additional units across Saudi Arabia by 2013.

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, which specializes in Buffalo-style chicken wings, said it intends to pursue additional international development, and is looking for area developers and master franchise partners in such countries as Greece, Dubai, Canada and Mexico.

In 2011, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s opened more than 10 locations in the United States and signed deals with franchisees to open 25 more. The chain currently operates about 213 restaurants in 22 states.

Talal Ali Abu Skaitah, general manager of Thimar investment, said in a statement, “We’re confident that Beef’s will be well-received because of the brand’s delicious food, family-oriented atmosphere, speed of service and great value.”

“The timing is ideal to build on our homegrown success and expand in key international markets throughout the world,” said James Walker, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s chief development officer. “We’ve heard the demand for our family-oriented concept in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and we’re not ignoring it.”

The company acknowledged its plans to accelerate expansion beyond its current 22 states late last year when it named Gene Savage director of franchise sales and development.

Read more: http://nrn.com/article/beef-%E2%80%98o%E2%80%99-brady%E2%80%99s-makes-first-international-push?ad=news#ixzz1luWTmvbN

Restaurants Roll Out Valentine’s Day Menu Specials

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Red, chocolate and heart shapes are the unsurprising themes for chains as they gear up for Valentine’s Day.

Baskin-Robbins is taking the opportunity to add two flavors to its line of ice cream cake bites, introduced last October.

Love Potion #31 is white chocolate and raspberry ice cream with a raspberry ribbon, raspberry-filled chocolate hearts and chocolate chips, served on chocolate cake, covered in chocolate-flavored coating and finished with a raspberry-flavored chocolate drizzle.

The Chocolate Dipped Strawberry cake bite is Very Berry Strawberry ice cream served over chocolate cake, covered in chocolate-flavored coating, drizzled with strawberry glaze and topped with miniature chocolate hearts.

The 6,600-unit Dunkin’ Brands subsidiary also is offering a Valentine’s Day “Box of Chocolates” four pack of ice cream cake bites for a suggested retail price of $9.99. The cakes are available individually at a suggested retail price of $2.99.

In addition, Baskin-Robbins’ February flavor of the month is Superfudge Truffle — chocolate fudge ice cream with chunks of chocolate ganache and toffee truffle pieces.

Sister brand Dunkin’ Donuts is introducing a new heart-shaped dessert for the holiday. The Chocolate Heart Donut is frosted with chocolate, filled with the chain’s vanilla Bavarian Kreme and sprinkled with chocolate chips.

The 10,000-unit chain also is reprising its Cupid’s Choice Donut, filled with Bavarian Kreme and topped with strawberry icing and pink, white and red heart-shaped sprinkles.

The donuts are available for a suggested retail price of 89 cents each.

Krispy Kreme also is selling heart-shaped doughnuts in February. The Drizzled Heart is a chocolate iced doughnut with a red-icing drizzle, while the Heart with Sprinkles has white icing, and red and white sprinkles.

In addition, the 660-unit chain based in Winston-Salem, N.C., is offering its regular-shaped chocolate iced doughnut with red and white sprinkles.

Krispy Kreme is promoting the holiday with a set of 12 Valentine cards, which it is giving away with the purchase of a dozen doughnuts while supplies last.

Dairy Queen’s heart-shaped offering is a cake made with a layer of chocolate soft serve topped with fudge and crunch, and then a layer of vanilla soft serve decorated with icing. The heart-shaped cake sells for an average retail price of $17.49, while an eight-inch cake is $19.89 and a 10-inch cake is $22.59.

The 5,900-unit chain based in Minneapolis also has named the Choco Cherry Love Blizzard its flavor of the month for its signature blended milk shake treat. It is a blend of chocolate flavored chunks with cherries and vanilla soft serve.

Darden Restaurants’ 21-unit subsidiary Seasons 52 has added a holiday themed item to its line of Mini Indulgence desserts through February 15. The Chocolate Raspberry Valentine is chocolate cake layered with chocolate syrup, raspberry purée and raspberry mousse. It’s garnished with whipped cream and a chocolate kiss.

All Seasons 52 mini indulgences are priced at $2.50 each.

Although desserts dominate when it comes to specials for this holiday, take-and-bake pizza chain Papa Murphy’s is offering a HeartBaker — a heart-shaped pizza topped with grated cheese, and pepperoni for the red color, to be taken home and baked by its customers. Prices for the pie vary by location for the 1,300-unit chain, but will average about $7 each.

Read more: http://nrn.com/article/restaurants-roll-out-valentine%E2%80%99s-day-menu-specials?ad=news#ixzz1luPEaeHc