Ash Wednesday (February 10) marks the beginning of Lent for more than 66 million Catholics in the U.S. For Long John Silver’s (LJS), the country’s largest quick-service seafood chain, it kicks off the company’s busiest selling season, historically featuring a 75 percent increase in sales on the first day of Lent alone. The company has prepared with aggressive training in more than 1,100 units across the country. In addition, Long John Silver’s is offering a seasonal promotion on a $5.99 Cod meal and a sweepstakes with three grand prize cruises.
During the Lenten season, Long John Silver’s expects to sell more than 20 million pieces of fish, enough to feed every person in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia and Phoenix. Those freshly prepared meals will be served with enough tartar sauce to fill nine gasoline tank trucks. On Ash Wednesday, Long John Silver’s will serve nearly half a million hush puppies, almost twice as many as an average Wednesday.
“We begin preparing almost as soon as Lent ends,” says Long John Silver’s CEO James O’Reilly. “This year we launched a system-wide training program including a Lent playbook and held regional meetings across the country. We are committed to delivering top-quality product and friendly service even at our busiest time of the year.”
Preparation to feed this sales surge extends to the icy waters of the North Pacific Ocean where fish trawlers hauled up wild-caught cod and pollock at one the best-managed and most sustainable fisheries in the world. Long John Silver’s fish is fresh-caught and flash-frozen aboard the fishing boat in order to lock in the flavor. For consumers interested in clean eating, this protein is antibiotic free, hormone free, GMO free, additive free, and contains no artificial color or flavors.
“We are not trying to be trendy. This is how we have always done it,” says Peter Czizek, Long John Silver’s vice president of culinary innovation. “The ocean is the largest free-range in the world.”
LJS units across the country have been vigorously preparing the stores in order to put their best foot forward, anticipating a surge of new, as well as loyal core customers during Lent. Team members are especially focused on dining areas, food preparation stations, and storage.
Among other seafood favorites, Long John Silver’s will offer a premium 100 percent wild-caught, hand-battered, premium Alaskan Cod meal that includes fries and two hushpuppies for $5.99 during Lent. A sweepstakes promotion called “Fish You Were Here” will give consumers an opportunity to win one of three grand prizes, a whale watching cruise, an Alaskan cruise and a Finding Nemo Caribbean cruise. To
enter the sweepstakes, customers simply take a selfie in an LJS restaurant or with LJS products and upload it at LJSelfie.com.
Long John Silver’s is also targeting Lent observers with special promotions. Coupon books and family-meal flyers will be delivered to local churches and businesses near LJS units. This will supplement special advertising placed in church bulletins. As many Lent-observing families will likely eat fish several times during the season, team members will also hand out “Fry Day” frequency cards, rewarding customers for their loyalty.