Innovation on the menu

A true American darling, Nathan’s Famous represents ‘The Flavour of New York’ with its vast range of original, high-quality menu items

The celebrations of the Fourth of July commemorating the Declaration of Independence of the United States from 1776 are an attractive mix of poignant patriotic displays, indulgence in traditional American treats like hot dogs, and a spectacular setting off of fireworks all over the Land of the Free. According to legend, it was on one Independence Day in 1916 that four immigrants held a hot dog eating contest at Nathan’s Famous Coney Island stand to settle an argument over who was the most patriotic. This was effectively the first edition of the globally-recognised Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest held annually on this day by one of America’s best-loved brands. Over 100 years later, this location still stands, and has grown to over an entire city block. This flagship location has been visited by millions of guests over the years, and seen by millions of fans globally during the hugely popular Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest every July 4.

“Today, Nathan’s products are available in tens of thousands of locations across the US, as well as in 13 international markets, and it is in a multitude of outlets that you can find them – from movie theatres to bowling centres, casinos, and even cruise ships,” highlights the company’s Senior VP Restaurants, James Walker. “We sell a wide range of high-quality iconic American comfort food – from our signature all-beef hot dogs, to our new Angus Ribeye New York Cheesesteak, you can find our offerings in a wide range of locations. Our hot dog continues to set the benchmark for what a premium all-beef hot dog should be.”

He then introduces the local spirit that the company carries within itself: “Nathan’s Famous is ‘The Flavour of New York’. When you go into one of our restaurants anywhere in the world, you are guaranteed to experience the best of the casual food scene of The City That Never Sleeps. Globally, we do not deviate from our promise to bring the highest-quality casual American fare possible to our guests, from our hot dogs and fresh crinkle-cut fries to our cooked-to-order fresh half-pound (240g) Angus Beef burgers.”

It is Nathan’s Famous’ passion for quality and unflinching dedication to customers that make the brand and its products so universally well-loved. For James, quality emanates from the company’s valued teammates and franchise owners, and can be seen in how Nathan’s Famous maintains its restaurants and services its guests.

“More than anything, though, our food is what keeps guests coming back,” he points out. “We take pride in preparing food, which is memorable, craveable, and Instagrammable. 2019 was a particularly strong year in this sense, as our most recent menu additions – including the aforementioned New York Cheesesteak and fresh Angus Beef burgers – have brought in many new guests looking for fast, yet super high-quality meals. On top of that, we have also seen an increase in the frequency in which our long-standing customers visit our restaurants.”

Brand benchmark
Over time, Nathan’s Famous has assumed a leadership position in its industry, addressing consumers’ ever-evolving tastes. James’ observations have led him to the conclusion that the trend of the day is quality and innovation. He explains: “Guests are demanding menu offerings that are varied and we are certainly winning on this trend, because we are well-known for our innovation in delivering the highest-quality menu items. Crucially, we are committed to providing these in the most time-sensitive and convenient manner possible.

“One recent example of an innovative item that we have developed, covers our hugely successful partnership with industry icon Pat LaFrieda, which saw us launch the half-pound New York Cheesesteak earlier in 2019,” James reveals. “This fantastic sandwich is made with Pat LaFrieda’s premium quality black angus ribeye, caramelised onions, LaFrieda’s Butcher Reserve steak sauce, American cheese, and served on a Balthazar baguette, and is currently available at Nathan’s Famous locations throughout the Tri-State area, with a national rollout coming soon.”

Going forward, the next few years will see the company continue to answer the demand from consumers around the world for the brand they love and crave. Nathan’s Famous has now opened its first two restaurants in the UK – in Southampton and Bournemouth. Following the fantastic early reviews the outlets received, as well as the solid performance they have registered from a purely turnover standpoint, it just seems natural for the chain to dig deeper and raise its profile in the UK further.

James wraps up: “As much as we remain focused on ensuring that we deliver quality to our guests, we will also continue to be incredibly conscious of the need to support our franchisees with everything they need. By doing this, we believe we will be able to keep the Nathan’s Famous brand as the benchmark in the casual food industry.”