Off the menu: Fast food restaurants compete in a ‘price war’

This summer’s “value war” between major fast-food brands continues to attract new combatants since McDonald’s Corp. launched its highly anticipated $5 Value Meal on June 25.

Burger King was the first to enter the pricing fray, launching its $5 Any Way You Want menu on June 13, a burger or chicken sandwich option with fries, chicken nuggets and a soft drink.

KFC had also earlier launched a “$4.99 meal for one” and Starbucks began offering a first-ever “pairing menu” for breakfast.

Taco Bell has now entered this discount contest, albeit at a higher price, with a $7 Taco Bell Cravings Luxe Box. The box contains a Chalupa Supreme, Double Stack Taco, and 5-Layer Beef Burrito, along with chips, nacho cheese sauce, and a drink. Like the $5 McDonald’s meal, the Cravings Luxe Box is a limited-time offer.

Wendy’s Co. is also in the running for the 2024 summer competition with its $5 Biggie Bag. The bag is a package that includes a chicken or hamburger sandwich, four chicken nuggets, fries and a drink, and customers have the option to replace it with a Frosty for a small fee.

Other fast food chains are using their own value strategies to attract inflation-weary consumers.

Participating Sonic Drive-In restaurants, for example, now offer a “FUN.99 Menu” that includes five different selections, each priced at $1.99.

Choices include a quarter-pound double cheeseburger, chili cheese dog, 16-ounce potato croquettes and shakes, as well as a new item: the Queso Wrap. The new snack-style chicken tender wraps come in two variations, a Bacon Ranch version and a Southwest Queso Crunch wrap.

Sonic’s new FUN.99 menu is expected to be available “indefinitely.”

This summer’s price wars aren’t expected to be limited to the fast food sector, either. Expect to see fast-casual and fast-food brands join the fray in the coming weeks, promoting their own discounted meal deals.


Accompanying dishes

IHOP’s July Pancake of the Month has a patriotic theme.

The Fresh Red, White & Blueberry seasonal blend features four buttermilk pancakes topped with fresh blueberries, fresh strawberries and a strip of whipped topping. July’s pancake flavor is also available as a side dish with IHOP’s Pancake Breakfast Combo.

There are IHOP restaurants locally at Five Town Plaza in Springfield and on Riverdale Street in West Springfield.


On Tuesday, July 16, Barstow’s Dairy Store and Bakery in Hadley will host its July Burger Night.

The event, which runs from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., features a special selection of made-to-order burgers as well as live country music by Old Country Road.

More details about the July Burger Party are available online.

Barstow’s Dairy Store and Bakery answers at 413-586-2142.


Palmer’s Steaming Tender Restaurant is partnering with Worcester’s Greater Good Imperial Brewing Company to present a free beer tasting on July 11.

The tasting session, which will run from 6 to 8 p.m., will feature a selection of Greater Good beers. Merchandise and a complimentary special dessert prepared by Steaming Tender will be included with the purchase of any Greater Good pint.

For more details, contact Steaming Tender Restaurant at 413-283-2744.


German restaurant Munich Haus in Chicopee is bringing back its popular Lobsterfest on Wednesday, July 24.

The event, which begins at 6 p.m., includes a 6- to 8-pound lobster for each guest along with clam chowder, Caesar salad, boiled potatoes, seasonal vegetables and a strawberry bowl.

The price for a lobster feast is $120; two people can “share” a lobster for $140. Tax and gratuity are extra. Prepaid reservations are required and can be made online at or by calling 413-594-8788.


From Friday, July 12 at 4 p.m. to Sunday, July 14 at 8 p.m., Yarde Tavern in South Hadley will celebrate a Portuguese Weekend. For three days, the tavern’s menu will feature authentic Portuguese specialties, and on Friday, July 12, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Phil Ferreira will perform.

Call the Tavern at 413-315-4339 for more information.


A unique West County tradition, the annual Bridge Dinner in Shelburne Falls is scheduled for Sunday, July 28, with seating beginning at 4:30 p.m. An event that benefits Mohawk Trail Regional High School’s athletic programs, the dinner is served outdoors on the historic Iron Bridge spanning the Deerfield River.

Prepared by Hillside Organic Catering and served by Mohawk Trail student athletes, the menu showcases locally sourced ingredients. For the main course, diners can choose from filet mignon, herb parmesan chicken breast or vegetable lasagna.

Tickets are $100 and can be purchased on; the event sponsor, the Mohawk Trail Athletic Association, is absorbing Eventbrite’s normal convenience fee.

For more information about the Bridge Dinner, email


Springfield’s Student Prince Cafe and Fort Restaurant has hosted its Rock N Roll Beer Dinner VII for Thursday, July 25. The five-course dinner, set to begin at 6 p.m., is inspired course by course by favorite rock n’ roll songs.

The dinner costs $80, including tax and tip. Tickets can be ordered online.

Student Prince Café and Fort Restaurant answer at 413-734-7475.


Sturbridge-based restaurant group Table 3 will present what it bills as “a world of coastal fun” on July 24. That’s when Table 3’s venue, the Wight Farm Barn, will be the site of the “Not Your Average Clambake.”

Set to begin at 6 p.m., the clambake will feature spit-roasted beef short ribs, a whole lobster and steamed lobsters, andouille sausage and shrimp. Other menu items include roasted corn and bacon chowder, minted watermelon salad, corn on the cob and a strawberry shortcake dessert.

The cost for all the treats is $85, excluding tip and taxes.

Contact Wight Farm Barn at 774-241-8450 for details.


Pizza Hut, a subsidiary of Yum Brands, has added a new style of pizza to its repertoire.

Chicago Tavern-style pizza was introduced chainwide in late June. The “Tavern” pizza is a thin-crust variation served in square slices.

For Pizza Hut, the tavern style is a return to its roots, as the new product’s crust formulation is similar to the brand’s original crust.

To complement this new permanent addition to its pizza lineup, Pizza Hut has also introduced eight new topping options. These include two new sauces – pesto and spicy marinara – and chicken sausage, diced garlic, grape tomatoes, caramelized onions, roasted peppers and crispy pepperoni slices.

Tavern pies are also seasoned with a Parmesan and oregano seasoning.

The new Tavern-style pizzas are available in four select variations: a Peso Margherita, an Ultimate Tavern Pie, a Spicy Chicken Sausage version and a Double Pepperoni Tavern Pizza.


On Wednesday, July 24, the Starting Gate at GreatHorse in Hampden hosts “Sounds of Summer,” a dinner and performance experience.

A menu celebrating the flavors of summer awaits attendees, and live steel drum performances will set the mood.

Tickets cost $65 plus a convenience fee and can be purchased online.

GreatHorse answers at 413-566-8010.


White Lion Brewing Company’s beer garden at Tower Square in downtown Springfield presents the first of two July jazz brunches on Sunday, July 14, from noon to 3 p.m.

Hartford-based band Ben Malynoski Plus 2 will perform, and the White Lion’s brunch menu will be enhanced with new items.

For more details, contact the White Lion Tower Square Bar at 413-455-0820.

A second Jazz Brunch is planned for July 28.


To celebrate its 60th anniversary, Atlanta-based sandwich chain Arby’s is bringing back a favorite side dish for a limited edition.

Previously removed from the menu in 2021, the potato cake wedges are sold in packs of three and have a suggested price of $2.39.

Arby’s is also celebrating its anniversary with a selection of products specially designed for Potato Cake fans; the “merchandise” can be ordered at


On Monday, July 15, Champney’s Restaurant & Tavern at the Deerfield Inn will host another of its Fancy Nancy lunches for children. Hosted by Mrs. Claus, the luncheon, which begins at 11:30 a.m., includes a reading of Jane O’Connor’s modern children’s classic, “Fancy Nancy.”

Attendees are encouraged to dress in their finest attire. Champney’s regular lunch menu and children’s menu will be available.

Reservations are suggested and can be made by calling 413-774-5587.

Hugh Robert is a faculty member in the Hospitality and Culinary Arts program at Holyoke Community College and has nearly 50 years of experience in the restaurant and teaching industries. Robert can be reached online at

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