Perhaps it was the perfect treat for mom when she needed a night out of the kitchen. Maybe it was regular Sunday pre-church breakfast or post-church lunch. Maybe it was the understood choice for post-game celebrations. It might’ve been a sibling’s customary pick come birthday time. Maybe it was dad’s regular craving for hot fudge cake. Or it could’ve been grandma’s lifelong love of the Brawny Lad.
Few Cincinnati area natives don’t have memories of Frisch’s Big Boy restaurants. They’re a fixture of the Tri-State landscape and are a genuine piece of Americana.
When NRD Capital acquired the venerable family-owned chain last year, the new owners charged themselves with a mission: Keep the things that customers have loved for generations while adding new products and re-branding the restaurant to appeal to a new generation of patrons.
The fruits of those early re-branding efforts were on display this past week at the Frisch’s Big Boy in Covington. Several Frisch’s executives, including director of research and development Chef Greg Grisanti, were on hand for the rollout of what is scheduled to be a regularly-introduced line of new menu options.
The new featured items are Frisch’s Western BBQ Primetime Sandwiches. The trio of sandwiches–cheeseburger, grilled chicken, and crispy chicken–all feature premium cheddar cheese, three hand-breaded onion rings, hickory-smoked bacon, and Frisch’s new Double B Low ‘n’ Slow barbecue sauce. All are served on a butter-grilled brioche bun.
Local bloggers were invited to sample the new products. All three sandwiches are quite tasty, but the Western BBQ Crispy Chicken Sandwich, by far my favorite, sits in a category of its own. The sandwich features a thick, juicy, perfectly fried chicken breast, topped with bacon, onion rings, and a smoky, well-balanced barbecue sauce. For a native of the deep south, it can’t get much better. It was the only one of the three sandwiches for which I begged a second serving.
Chef Grisanti said that the recipe for the new barbecue sauce, which was developed specifically for this product line, includes brown sugar, honey, and no high fructose corn syrup. The end product is very well balanced. It’s sweet, yet tangy, and contains just the right amount of heat to provide a kick, without being overbearing.
The product rollout took place at the newly redesigned Covington location. Company executives on hand said that the company is re-thinking the entire Frisch’s experience, including the atmosphere and appearance of the building itself. The Covington location is being used as a prototype for future locations. The idea is to see how patrons respond to the new design and then allow those reactions to push future designs. The location is bright and welcoming, making excellent use of natural light. It has an airy feel. It also includes a children’s area set aside for coloring and other crafts.
The current plan, according to Chef Grisanti, is to roll out new products and menu items every two to three months. The restaurant is even rethinking and expanding its beverage choices, including a new line of fruit-flavored lemonades. Even the company’s iconic Big Boy logo has been redesigned.
If you’re a longtime Frisch’s patron, don’t worry. Your favorites such as the Big Boy and Super Big Boy (featuring Frisch’s signature tartar sauce), the Brawny Lad, and Hot Fudge Cake are still on the menu. They’re not going anywhere, and likely never will.
If you haven’t visited Frisch’s in a while, the Western BBQ Crispy Chicken Sandwich is well worth the trip.
(This post was sponsored by Frisch’s; all opinions are The Better Half’s own.)