Monthly menu check: Casual-dining restaurants focus on special offers

Staff Writer
Monthly menu check: Casual-dining restaurants focus on special offers

Casual-dining restaurants continued their focus on special offers throughout February, according to a Monthly Menu Check from Brad Ludington, an analyst from KeyBanc Capital Markets.

Among the chains that tweaked their value menus last month were Chili’s Grill & Bar, which added a Philly cheesesteak sandwich to its $6 lunch combo, and Applebee’s, which augmented its popular 2 for $20 menu with Bourbon Street-style entrées.

In addition, O’Charley’s rolled out its own $20 menu, which includes the choice of one appetizer and two entrées, while Olive Garden introduced a $12.95 three-course meal.

Ludington, author of the monthly report, also found that restaurants used two big events in February — Valentine’s Day and Super Bowl XLVI — to showcase special offers.

“Many casual-dining companies got into the spirit of Super Bowl XLVI, offering themed items both in-store, but especially for carryout,” he said in the report.

Deals for the big game included catering platters from California Pizza Kitchen and Bravo, part of the Bravo Brio Restaurant Group, as well as take-out wing buckets from Buffalo Wild Wings.

Applebee’s used a $9.99 starting price point for its Super Bowl party platter, allowing guest to choose from various discounted and free add-ons.

For Valentine’s Day, restaurants took a slightly different approach, Ludington found.

“Many casual-dining companies pulled discounted items off the menu or conveniently ended promotions the day before,” he said. “Instead, in many cases, they offered fixed-price menus from Feb. 10 through Feb. 14.”

Contact Charlie Duerr at charles.duerr@penton.com.