Anyone who has ever stepped foot in a McAlister’s Deli knows that the restaurant is much more than just a deli. Where most delis adhere to narrow menu of traditional sandwiches, McAlister’s has innovated and expanded their menu at every opportunity, making theirs one of the most diverse and robust menus in food franchising.
Leading the brand’s charge to grow and improve their menu is Will Eudy, McAlister’s corporate executive chef. According to Chef Eudy, McAlister’s menu is never finished.
“We are always looking at how we can take existing menu items and make them better,” said Eudy. “We’ll find a new and better ingredient or we’ll make a tweak or twist that will vastly improve one of our items. I’ve got the best job in the building. I get to dream up all those cool improvements.”
McAlister’s prioritization of innovation applies not only to items on the menu but also to the preparation of those items, which Eudy says has been refined to ensure that every item served is fresh and delicious when it crosses the counter.
That dedication to quality and innovation has paid off, allowing McAlister’s to capture an ever-increasing customer base as consumers continue to seek out wholesome and unique meal options.
Here are five of the key ways in which McAlister’s menu stands apart from its competition, according to Chef Eudy.
1. The meats and veggies
Our meats and veggies are sliced in-house every single day. A lot of restaurants don’t do this. They’ll serve pre-sliced, pre-packaged products, and they aren’t very good. You can taste and see our difference. We take a lot of pride in preparing all of our produce in our restaurants every day.
2. The sweet tea
McAlister’s Famous Sweet Tea is our own proprietary blend. It’s one of our biggest sellers, especially in the South, where people love sweet tea and they won’t tolerate a pale imitation. We won’t sell a cup of tea that is not perfect. We put a four-hour maximum shelf life on our tea, but we typically make it much more often. We don’t refrigerate our tea because it loses its taste and gets cloudy, you can see the difference. We make it hot, and we serve it over ice, so you get a strong, undiluted tea with a perfectly clear look and flavor.
3. The spuds and cookies
Our potatoes are a huge draw. That’s something you can’t find at a lot of other restaurants, and ours are totally customizable and served hot and fresh. Like our tea, we won’t serve a potato that’s been sitting out for a while. We bake our spuds every 30 minutes, so each one is served moist and with that perfect color. Same goes for our cookies, which people love. We’ve got a variety of flavors, including salted caramel—one of our biggest sellers—and they are baked fresh throughout the day at every restaurant.
4. The honey mustard
When people think of honey mustard, they usually think of something that is thick and tacky and sweet. Ours is rich and creamy. It’s a little sweet up front with a nice burn on the finish—a perfect combination of sweet and hot. It’s really an amazing recipe.
5. The formula
Whatever we’re making, we’ve got the formula down pat. Our sweet tea, for example, we know exactly how it’s harvested, we have a dedicated filtration process for the water, and we even have a special ice maker in every restaurant to make sure that each cup is served with perfect cubes of ice. There’s a lot of science behind how we serve every item on our menu, and our restaurants stick to those processes to make sure that customers can count on getting the cup of tea or sandwich or spud at every McAlister’s