The “New York’s Finest” burgers line, including the Attitude Burger (pictured above), which is served on an everything seeded bun (like the bagels the city is known for) all run $7.49. The shakes are $5.29. Chicken sandwiches, such as the Hell’s Chicken, cost $6.99.
Walker says Nathan’s went with price uniformity to avoid complexity and encourage scalability. “You walk into one of our restaurants and the menuboards have a very different look and feel,” he says. “They are simple, easy to understand. And they’re really focused on telling the story of the quality of the products themselves. Romancing the ingredients. And really being food first.”
Nathan’s brought in James Beard Award-winning chef Mark Miller to help with the chicken line in particular. The result is a tempura-like texture than nods to Southern-style classics.
Putting this kind of time and thought into flavor, presentation, and differentiation is essential to Nathan’s viability as a growth concept, Walker says.
“We basically determined very quickly that brands [like Subway], McDonald’s, Burger King—these are great quick-service brands and we would never be in a position to compete with them on price,” he says. “But we could absolutely win from a quality standpoint.”
The goal: Make everything not hot dogs and fries, as good as hot dogs and fries. “All of our food needed to be memorable, craveable, and Instagramable,” Walker says. “And, frankly, best in class by a wide margin.”