Wendy's new chili cheese fries. (April 23, 2012)

Wendy's new chili cheese fries. (April 23, 2012) Credit: Handout

Wendy's is combining two of its best-known menu items to serve up a new offering — chili cheese fries.

The Dublin, Ohio-based hamburger chain said Monday the side dish will be available nationwide as a permanent menu item effective immediately. The suggested price is $2.49.

For a limited time, The Wendy's Co. says diners will also be able to order macaroni and cheese and oven-baked sweet potatoes, which are served with a buttery cinnamon spread. Although there are no plans to make them permanent additions, Wendy's spokesman Denny Lynch noted that past limited-time offers, such as the spicy chicken filet sandwich, have gone on to find permanent places on the menu board.

"If they tell us they like it, we might come back with it in six months or maybe a year," Lynch said. He said current supplies of the macaroni and cheese and baked potatoes should last through June.

A TV ad campaign promoting the new sides will start airing next week. The chili cheese fries will be served in the same plastic bowl used for side salads. Nutritional information was not immediately available.

If some of the new side dishes seem like a departure from typical fast-food fare, that's because Wendy's is looking to reinvent itself as a higher-end hamburger chain.

CEO Emil Brolick, who was hired last September, has said he wants to turn the chain's fortunes around by remodeling restaurants, raising employee standards and improving ingredients.

Last year, for example, Wendy's introduced its new Dave's Hot 'N Juicy Burger, a new "W'' cheeseburger line and natural cut fries. Later this year, the chain also plans to test a breakfast menu in select markets.

Wendy's has 6,500 company- and franchise-owned restaurants worldwide.

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