Long John Silver's gives the fryolater a break as it gussies up fast food

If you're wondering why your trip through the Long John Silver's drive-thru is taking so long, it might be because the chain's new menu items aren't coming out of the fryer like most of the items it has always served. The chain is starting a new line, called the Freshside Grille, that will offer grilled premium seafood entrees like salmon, tilapia and shrimp.

A New Look for Old Brands

    What changed: For the first time, Long John Silver's will be offering its first non-fried items. The Freshside Grille selections includePacific Salmon (pictured), Shrimp Scampi and Tilapia.

    YUM! / AP

    What changed: The national restaurant chain went through a drastic decor makeover in 2008 to make the furnishings more upscale and sleek from its former look with Tiffany-style lamps and antiques. Total cost? $65 million. When the company got to the last of its locations, it staged a mock explosion, blowing up the interior and replaying the action on YouTube. Now all 600 locations of the 36-year-old chain have a modern look with black awnings outside and black-and-white checked tablecloths inside, plus a new straightforward logo.

    RubyTuesday.com

    What changed: Popeye's is sporting a new look with an orange and red logo with the words "Louisiana Kitchen" set off by fleur-de-lis designs and a giant "P" in the middle the better to emphasize the almost 40-year-old chain's New Orleans roots. Gone is the blue-bordered logo that the company deemed not fancy enough to go after the upscale audience it seeks to court. The logo makeover comes in conjunction with a new $1.49 menu that will include a loaded chicken wrap, the delta mini sandwich and a chicken biscuit. New commercials will feature a fictional chef named Ed, who sits with diners and talks about his food.

    Popeyes

    What changed: Chex Party Mix, invented in 1955, will get a makeover with new recipes, new packaging and a new spokeschef, Katie Lee Joel, (pictured in the center, with Suzanne M. Grimes, president, Food & Entertaining at Readers Digest on the right and Cheri Olerud, senior cookbook editor and test kitchen expert for Chex cereal on the left.

    Business Wire

    What changed: The venerable crock pot, long a staple of the American kitchen, is trying to become the ultimate multi-tasker for the contemporary two-income family that wants to eat healthy. Crock Pot's owner, Jarden Consumer Solutions, wants the slow cooker to become a "trophy" product that people want to give as gifts and buy for themselves. So new cookers will come in bright colors no more cream and burgundy and will feature updated packaging that evokes savory root vegetables rather than grandma's quilt.

    Crock-Pot | Hughes Design Group

    What changed: The 400-location hotel worldwide hotel chain is in the middle of a $1.7 billion project to renovate about half its U.S. hotels. The new look includes brighter colors in the room, with pillowtop beds and white duvets and flat-screen TVs. Sheraton is rolling out a branded line of toiletries, called Shine by Bliss, and fitness centers will get upgrades. Lobbies will feature restaurants, most with a casual dining chain called Relish, and cafes with Internet stations. Some locations may also have a steakhouse developed by Shula's.

    AP

    What changed: Now owned by Stride Rite, which re-acquired the rights to the sneaker brand from hip-hop mogul Damon Dash (a recent foreclosure victim), PRO-Keds are going to get a makeover as they come back into the fold. Stride Rite will focus on classic styles, such as the "Royal" canvas basketball shoe, first introduced in 1949, and give it an overhaul that will hit stores in November and retail for $50 to $80.

    ProKeds.com

    What changed: Hasbro updated the 60-year-old game of Clue with changes that include a fancy new mansion with a spa and theater, and new weapons like a baseball bat and an ax. Professor Plum is now an Internet billionaire and Colonel Mustard is a former football star, and the murder mystery takes place during a party for the rich and famous. The game structure has also changed somewhat, with the addition of a second deck of cards, which is supposed to add an extra element of surprise.

    Hasbro

    What changed: Little girls have been inundated with Disney princess paraphernalia for years now, and the line has been so popular that the company wants to try to do the same thing with fairies. Tinker Bell, a mere side character in J.M. Barrie's 1911 novel and the 1953 movie version of Peter Pan, is going to soon be a leading lady. A straight-to-DVD movie, Tinker Bell, comes out October 28, and that will be followed by a line of books, toys, lip gloss and stationary. The new line could mean big bucks as Tink already brings in about $800 million in retail sales for existing products.

    AP | Disney

    What's changed: Strawberry Shortcake got more than just a new dress or two when she got a makeover earlier this year (just before American Greetings sold the rights to the character to a Canadian company). The '80s icon got a total makeover that includes a few nips and tucks to her physique as well changes to her makeup. She will now spend a lot of time talking on her cell phone and eating fresh fruit in an effort to appeal to a new generation of young girls. A new animated movie and TV series are slated for 2009.

    American Greetings



The new items are, of course, healthier options than fried seafood. In New York, where chains are now required to post calorie information on the menu boards, that could make the items very popular. The shrimp scampi, for example, only has 110 calories. Take that Whopper! That even bests most of the "healthy" entrees at other fast food joints, which offer salads that add up to over a thousand calories.

The other major advantage for Long John Silver's with this new menu is that it will be value-priced seafood, which could become a viable alternative in the coming months of economic gloom. With food prices rising so steeply, local restaurants -- even family-style diners and other low-cost options -- are going to be feeling the pinch. So people who might otherwise have never considered a stop at Long John Silver's for fried food, might stop by for salmon if it's much cheaper than their local haunt.

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