Wendy's (WEN) - Get Free Report stands as a distant second behind McDonald's (MCD) - Get Free Report, but ahead of Restaurant Brands International's (QSR) - Get Free Report Burger King. That's not something the square-burger maker will likely be able to change, but it's not, at least in recent years, for lack of trying.
The fast-food chain has been aggressive about offering new items and trying different things on its menu. Wendy's has also spent aggressively on advertising to get attention for those items and its return to offering breakfast in 2020.
Wendy's took a simple approach to breakfast. It delivered a familiar menu but tried to execute it better than McDonald's and Burger King did. Instead of precooked eggs and mediocre bacon, the chain made its eggs fresh and upped its bacon game.
That approach, which was derailed a bit by the pandemic, appears to have worked. Now, Wendy's wants to use the same approach to a new, seasonal menu item and to take breakfast into a place where it has not gone before.
Wendy's Makes a Menu Change
Wendy's founder Dave Thomas built his chain's business around the idea of doing what McDonald's and Burger King did but doing it better. That's why the company pledged to always use fresh, never frozen, beef.
Now, at the time of year when every fast-food chain adds a fish sandwich (or promoted the one it already has) Wendy's has brought back its fish sandwich. The chain, however, has done it in its traditional fashion, trying to execute better than Burger King and McDonald's.
The company explained its latest move on its Square Deal Blog:
"We know interest in Wendy’s fish sandwich spikes about this time every year, with fans frequently reaching out to us to ask, “When will Wendy’s fish sandwich be available in 2022?” Well, get ready because on Monday, Feb. 28, Wendy’s Crispy Panko Fish Sandwich will be on menus, following its well-received debut last year," according to the company.
That sounds like a small move, but it's actually a bold play when you consider that McDonald's still offers only its Filet O'Fish, a non-descript sandwich that dates back to 1965.
Wendy's this year is using Alaskan pollock in its fish sandwich, after previously using cod. There's a reason for that, according to the company:
"The wild Alaskan pollock fillet provides a similar flavor experience and comes from the world’s largest certified sustainable fishery. Populations of wild Alaskan pollock in the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, and Gulf of Alaska are estimated by independent third parties using scientific research surveys. Each year only about 15% of the population is caught, leaving an abundant population to thrive for future generations."
Wendy's Expands Where It Offers Breakfast
The pandemic muted the impact of Wendy's breakfast launch, since many Americans stopped having to physically go to work in the morning. But it was still a successful move for the chain. Now, Wendy's wants to bring its new breakfast menu, and the Breakfast Baconator, north of the border.
Wendy's has decided to bring its breakfast menu to Canada beginning this spring. The company promoted that by not subtly telling potential customers how its offering will differ from what McDonald's and Burger King sell.
"Say goodbye to dry English muffins, stale breakfast sandwiches, and see-through bacon, and wake up to a craveable made-to-order breakfast paired with a meticulously crafted cup of custom-blended coffee made specifically for Canadian customers," the company wrote in a news release. "From freshly cracked Canadian eggs on every sandwich, to savory Applewood smoked bacon, freshly cooked in every restaurant every day and biscuits served warm from the oven."
That clearly throws down the gauntlet in a market where the company also has to compete with Burger King's sister brand, Tim Horton's. While "Tim's," as Canadians call the chain, may not be big in the U.S., in Canada it's positioned somewhere between Starbucks (SBUX) - Get Free Report and Dunkin', and it's a major player. Wendy's clearly wants to take the fight to its rivals.
"Canadians deserve a better, high-quality breakfast experience that is fast and affordable, without cutting corners. That is exactly what Wendy's will deliver when we launch breakfast across Canada this spring," Wendy's International President Abigail Pringle said in a statement.
"We have done the work, immersing ourselves in what Canadian customers want from their breakfast and we will serve up hot, made-to-order, great-tasting food, using high-quality ingredients that have long set Wendy's apart from the competition."