Ash Wednesday, falling this year on March 5, marks the start of Lent, a 40-day period of abstinence and fasting for many Christians. The traditional Lenten custom is one of giving up, whether that takes form in ceasing a smoking habit, cutting out chocolate from a diet, or, most commonly, abstaining.....
But, for those who observe Lent — and even those who don’t — the Friday neighborhood fish fry can become tired after one visit, not to mention after seven weeks. As an alternative, several quick-service and fast-casual food brands are catering to Lenten ascetics who want to give up meat, not taste. Keep an eye on the four following franchise brands that will help customers eat like it’s Fat Tuesday all throughout Lent.
Captain D’s Seafood Restaurant
The Tennessee-based Captain D’s has put down the processed fish patty in favor of a new grilled menu with a focus on healthier options. With new staples like Grilled White Alaskan Salmon and Grilled Shrimp Skewers, customers can escape the meatless mundane. After setting an all-time AUV sales record in 2013, Captain D’s new menu, rolled out this year, is expected to boost Lenten sales and set another record in 2014.
Old Carolina Barbecue
Old Carolina Barbecue, perhaps known best for its slow smoked entrees, has also gathered a steady following for their seasonal seafood features. In fact, the 10-year-old, fast-casual brand sees some of its strongest sales during the Lent season, thanks to their annual “Calabash Celebration.” Calabash, a flounder fish imported from North Carolina, is offered exclusively during Lent at Old Carolina Barbecue restaurants.
Based in Ohio, the California-inspired amalgam concept offers both pizza and tacos in a fast-casual setting, allowing customers to feast while they fast. The brand is best known for their signature fish tacos, ranging from Baja-style shrimp to Malibu-style salmon, but their brick oven veggie pizzas are also a fan favorite. Baja Pizzafish swells its sales during Lent and rides the wave of success throughout the year.
MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes
No, including the better-burger franchise on this list is not some cruel joke. For many Lent observers, MOOYAH’s black bean veggie burger is a welcome alternative to the fish filet. With MOOYAH's customizable toppings, sauces, and the option of subbing out the classic bun for a lettuce wrap — coined the Iceburger — customers may not even miss the meat, during Lent or otherwise.