February 21, 2017

How to Drive Sales and Win Customers During Lent

How to Drive Sales and Win Customers During Lent

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According to figures collected from Datassential, 26% of your customers observe Lent, the Christian tradition that spans the six weeks leading up to Easter. During this observance, many choose to abstain from eating meat, with the exception of fish. In most U.S. markets, this is your biggest opportunity of the year to drive sales of seafood items.

A McDonald’s franchisee gets a fishy idea

Perhaps the most famous story of a foodservice operator seeing opportunity where others saw declining sales is that of Lou Groen, McDonald’s franchisee and inventor of the Filet-O-Fish. According to Smithsonian.com, Groen’s McDonald’s was located in Monfort Heights, Ohio, which in the late 1950s was a predominantly Catholic town. During Lent, Groen saw his Friday sales plummeting. Smithsonian relates that McDonald’s owner Ray Kroc had initial reservations about his stores being, “…stunk up with the smell of fish,” but there was no denying the sales of the fish sandwich during Lent. The new menu item saved Groen’s business and introduced a now-classic item.

Know your market and ‘fish’ for loyal customers

The lesson in Groen’s successful menu move isn’t just to offer fish and call it a day. Your customers want to know that you’re listening. If you meet their needs during Lent, you just might find that you have loyal customers year-round. Groen’s idea wasn’t born in a vacuum; he studied his market and found out what his potential customers needed.

Creative menu ideas to showcase seafood

With that in mind, consider other ways to serve fish besides the old fried filet on a hamburger bun. What worked for Groen in 1959 might not work for your foodservice operation. Try these Chicken of the Sea recipes for foodservice that bring fresh appeal to Lenten fish-focused menus.

Cajun Spiced Tuna Cakes – Healthy, bunless, and bold, these tuna cakes satisfy your customers’ Lenten requirements with big flavor that tastes more like Mardi Gras.

Grilled Alaska Salmon Burgers – Technomic’s MenuMonitor and Center of the Plate Seafood & Vegetarian Consumer Trend Report lists grilled salmon burgers among its top Lenten LTO opportunities. Wow your diners with a taste of the barbecue grill with this on-trend and Lent-appropriate salmon burger.

Tuna Avocado Melt Supreme – This sandwich is the classic tuna melt with a California twist. Avocado and tuna offer a light alternative to heavier fare like all-you-can-eat fish and chips.

Visit Chicken of the Sea’s recipe collection for more

Chicken of the Sea has plenty more recipes for your Lenten—or year-round—seafood menu in our recipes section. And don’t forget to keep up with our healthcare toolkits, which contain printable table tents and “Today’s Catch” cards to help any foodservice operation merchandise its seafood menu.


Han, Cindy. Leveraging Lent. Flavor & The Menu. https://www.getflavor.com/leveraging-lent/

Smith, K. Annabelle. The Fishy History of the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish Sandwich. Smithsonian.com. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-fishy-history-of-the-mcdonalds-filet-o-fish-sandwich-2912/

 Technomic Inc. Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian Consumer Trend Report.

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