Long John Silver’s Now Testing Vegan Crab Cakes and Fishless Fillets
Long John Silver’s, the largest fast-food seafood restaurant chain in the US, just launched its first plant-based menu item at select locations in California and Georgia. The chain is testing a plant-based crab cake and a vegan fish filet at five locations, providing a brand new form of plant-based protein in the fast-food market. The vegan items were developed by plant-based seafood pioneer Good Catch Foods.
Customers will be able to order the new menu options a la carte or as meals in Long John Silver’s new Plant-Based Platter consisting of two Fish-Free Fillets, two Crab-Free Cakes, and two sides. The new items can also be ordered as meals that feature the plant-based entree alongside two sides including French fries, green beans, and corn.
“We’re excited to propel change in quick-service restaurants by teaming up with Long John Silver’s,” Christine Mei, CEO of Good Catch’s parent company Gathered Foods, said. “ With the plant-based seafood sector expected to grow twelve-fold in the next ten years to $1.3 billion, there’s room for dramatic growth. We’re proud to fuel the momentum by delivering the delicious taste, unmistakable texture, and comparable protein that consumers crave.”
Long John Silver’s aims to bring in more customers with the introduction of its plant-based fish products. The company’s vegan push is an attempt to widen its consumer base as the demand for both plant-based protein and especially vegan seafood rises. Patricia Kreiss, a California Long John Silver’s franchise owner that oversees one of the test locations, believes that this move will reach out to new customers, allowing the company to gain popularity with a plant-based consumer base.
“I think California in itself, we have such a diverse population with many different cultures that you have to offer things and see if that will drive people in and whether it will do well or not,” said Kreiss. “Now, it’s obvious that not everybody is plant-based but 25 percent of Americans are and they need to have that out there because California in itself is always on the edge of innovation and we’re offering that for the rest of the United States.”
Good Catch’s partnership with Long John Silver’s marks the first time a national seafood chain has incorporated plant-based seafood. Currently, Long John Silver’s operates 700 restaurants across the United States and is working to change its company model to cater to a growing number of flexitarian, vegetarian, and vegan customers. The trial launch will allow the company to test customer response and opinions, helping the seafood chain prepare for a nationwide launch.
“We work with partners who share the vision of fishing smarter with less environmental impact, an aspect that we know is very important to Good Catch,” Vice President of Marketing at Long John Silver’s, Christopher Caudill said. “We’re proud to have their plant-based products on our menu as a way to open our doors to a wider customer base who want to experience tasty seafood products in a more sustainable way.”
Good Catch emerged when chef brothers Derek and Chad Sarno realized they wanted to provide delicious seafood without harming the oceans. The chef brother duo developed a blend of six legumes to replicate the texture and taste of seafood, providing the market with one of the first plant-based seafood proteins. Following the brand’s initial success with its three flavors of vegan tuna, the company has expanded to producing frozen entrees and appetizers alongside crab cakes and fish fillets.
The Sarno brothers also created the beloved UK vegan brand, Wicked Kitchen. Previously, the vegan brand was only available at Tesco’s around the United Kingdom but announced its expansion to the US market last week. The iconic plant-based brand offers several plant-based foods across each variety from plant-based seafood to vegan snacks.
“The launch of Wicked Kitchen in the UK was met with really impressive consumer response, and since then Tesco has extended the line to more than 100 products across the store,” the Sarno brothers told VegNews. “We know the US consumer is limited in their plant-based options currently available to them, but we also know they haven’t had anything as wicked delicious as what Wicked Kitchen offers, and we look forward to hearing what they have to say about our products.”
As of right now, plant-based customers in the US can find the Sarno brothers' plant-based seafood at Georgian and Californian Long John Silver's. In Georgia, the test locations are located in Newnan [52 Bullsboro Drive] and Albany [1805 N. Slappey Drive]. For Californians, the vegan seafood can be found in Bakersfield [3801 Mind Ave.], Sacramento [7228 Stockton Blvd.], and Clovis [406 W Shaw Ave.].