Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Disappearing restaurant deals?

June 24, 2009

olivegardenWhether it is “value menus,”  Applebee’s two dinners for $20 deal or Ruth’s Chris Steak House’s “Summer Classic” three-course meal for $39.95, restaurant operators long have been depending on specials to woo customers during a long recession that has driven unemployment to a 26-year high.

Now, one high-profile restaurant executive says he has seen some rivals’ deep discounts disappear over the last few weeks.

“We see a little bit of pull back from some of the more significant offers,” said Clarence Otis, chief executive of Olive Garden and Red Lobster parent Darden International Inc.

Darden has specials of its own. For example, the company’s Red Lobster chain plans to repeat its “Lobsterfest” promotion during the the pre-Easter season of Lent,  when many Catholics eat fish on Fridays. Still, Otis said his company is careful to make sure its discounts reap financial rewards.

“We don’t know that a lot of folks who did discounting got much for it,” in terms of driving diners into restaurants, he said.

Have you seen your favorite discount disappear?


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