The poor economy has triggered the longest running restaurant price war I can remember. All segments of the restaurant sector are engaging in cut-throat competition for your discretionary dining dollar.
Let’s begin at the bottom, with the so-called “fast food” segment. Both McDonald’s and Burger King have significantly expanded their “dollar” menus. On the beverage front, tea lovers can’t top McDonald’s 32-ounce iced tea deal. For breakfast fare, I alternate between Burger King’s egg and sausage muffin and McDonald’s breakfast burrito as a mid-morning “snack” on my commute to out of town business meetings. (Between last week and the next two weeks, I’ll make seven such trips and so there’ll be seven “snack” stops, plus a 44-ounce “belly buster” fountain drink on the return trip. Diet, of course.)
Pizza lovers are certainly rolling in the dough these days. Both Pizza Hut and Papa John’s offer large pizzas with numerous toppings for just $10. My favorite is a large Hungry Howie’s “The Works” pizza for just under $9 because I like those flavored crusts. And if $10 is too steep for you, Little Caesar’s has their large single topping pizzas for a very affordable $5.
(Sidebar: If you told a nutritionist that you ate a meal with all the major food groups, including bread, dairy (in the form of cheese), meat, and vegetables (toppings) without mentioning that it was a pizza, you’d likely be praised for such a “balanced” meal.)
Next up the food chain are the sub shops. The popularity of Subway’s $5 foot longs has pressured competitors into matching that deal. So Quizno’s, whose subs I prefer, has regularly joined in matching the $5 deal. Take that Jared!
Even the “casual” restaurants have a variety of deals to entice you to step up from the burger and pizza purveyors. For months, I’ve been receiving, about every 6 weeks, a “$10 off” coupon from Ruby Tuesday. As long as they keep sending me that $10, I’ll be happy to spend it!
The local Bonefish Grill, a more upscale restaurant, has been offering their signature Bang Bang Shrimp for an explosive $5 on Wednesdays. That’s a dining deal I can stomach!
Then, there’s the perpetual sale of certificates at Restaurant.com. For months now, $25 certificates to participating restaurants, which are normally $10, have been on sale for anywhere from $2 to $5. Last November, we bought two certificates for $2 each to use in Orlando on our way to and from Puerto Rico.
We used one certificate at B.B. King’s Blues Club the evening before we left. We feasted on a “sampler platter” of wings, ribs, fried pickles, fries and split an entrée of half a barbequed chicken, ribs and two sides I’ve forgotten. It was so much food that we saved all the chicken to eat on the flight. During the meal, we enjoyed live jazz.
We used the second certificate on Thanksgiving Day at a very nice Indian restaurant, where I savored a very nice Lamb Vindaloo, garlic naan and washed it down with mango lassi. Susie had lamb or chicken Biryani. Both checks were a bit over $50, so that came to about a 50% discount.
Interestingly, the best dining deal in town is not from a national chain but from a local (which includes adjacent Georgia counties) “Southern style” country buffet competing with three similar buffets along a one mile stretch along restaurant row near a mall. During the week, their lunch buffet is just $3.99.
That pittance gets you a huge salad bar with three different type of salad greens, a good dozen veggie favorites including turnip greens, mustard greens and collard greens, favorite comfort food entrees such as fried chicken, meatloaf, lightly breaded fried pork chops, pork chunks, and a nice assortment of desserts, including their Godzilla (5 inches across) cinnamon rolls. And, you get to take one of those cinnamon rolls home without additional charge. This is the only buffet I go to, and I visit about once a month.
May the dining deals be with you!
P.S. And for enquiring minds, over the last few months my weight has dropped from about 165 to 158.