Saturday, June 12, 2010

Aren't they supposed to sell the food?

Uh-oh. If the restaurant industry is getting back on its feet, why are so many chains reverting to food giveaways, the traffic builder of choice during the downturn’s darkest days?

Today you can grab a free cup of Popeyes’ new cane-sugared sweet tea (translation for northerners: An iced tea that’s made with sugared water). Then again, maybe you’d prefer one of Taco Bell’s new Limeade Sparklers, available without charge if you download a coupon from the chain’s website.

Diabetics could really be in trouble if they’ve been scouting the deals. Friendly’s recently gave away a scoop of ice cream, and Mimi’s Café offered four free muffins on Wednesday to any patron who bought a breakfast.

Either giveaways are going to remain part of the marketing arsenal, or maybe traffic is softer than the numbers reveal.

Either way, it’s enough to make you hope for a two-for-one cocktail special.

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