Yum! Brands seafood concept Long John Silver’s is rolling out a nationwide low-calorie entrée line today called Freshside Grille. Each of the three new center-of-the-plate offerings has 10 or fewer grams of fat, zero trans fats, and no more than 150 calories.

The menu’s debut comes closely on the heels of Yum Brands’ announcement earlier this month that it would begin posting nutritional information for all of its menu items at all five brands nationwide.

But Long John Silver’s President, Ben Butler, says the healthy menu innovation is not in response to potential menu-labeling backlash and that the new dishes were in the works months before the menu-labeling announcement became public.

The Freshside Grille consists of Shrimp Scampi in a garlic butter sauce (110 calories, 5 fat grams); Grilled Tilapia in a garlic and herb sauce (110 calories, 2.5 fat grams); and Grilled Pacific Salmon with a blend of red bell peppers, black pepper, garlic, and olive oil (150 calories, 5 fat grams). Each entrée will also come with a breadstick and be served with a bed of seasoned rice.

The brand’s menu items were introduced to test markets before their national rollout.

“Our new Freshside Grille entrées performed very well in test markets and lifted individual store sales,” Butler tells QSR in an e-mail. “We tested the Pacific Salmon, Tilapia, and Shrimp Scampi, and all three did very well, so there were no changes to the menu following the tests.”

In addition to the entrée offerings, Long John Silver’s is also rolling out three Freshside Grille side options: Vegetable Medley, which includes green beans and orange and yellow carrots (50 calories, 2 fat grams, 3 g fiber); Seasoned Rice, featuring long grain rice with garlic and vegetable seasonings (270 calories, 4.5 fat grams, 4 g fiber); and corn on the cob (150 calories, 10 fat grams, 3 g fiber).

While the national success of the new menu items is yet to be seen, Butler is confident consumers will respond well to the additions. “The popularity of seafood continues to grow– particularly options that provide tasty, lower-fat, and lower-calorie choices,” he says. “We are already working on new products to add to the menu in 2009.”

–Blair Chancey

News, Long John Silver's, Yum! Brands