The Early Bird Special Is Back

The Early Bird Special Is Back

Food & Drink

The Early Bird Special Is Back


By Cari Martens

The economic downturn has helped to revive a favorite old restaurant promotion long associated with white-haired retirees living in “Del Boca Vista,” Florida, or some similar retirement community outpost.

The early-bird dinner special is back and bigger than ever.

The difference is, people under the age of 70 are now taking advantage of the offer. Heck, there are people younger than 30 who are hip to the idea of getting a hefty discount on dinner ordered before 6 p.m.

As reported in a story by Damien Cave in the New York Times, you now see tables filled with young families, singles and cool couples, in addition to the frugal seniors. The early-bird special is enjoying an especially strong revival across the state of Florida. With unemployment there at its highest rate in 35 years, it seems everyone is looking for a bargain, and half-price entrees or free desserts at a nice sit-down restaurant is seen as a darned good deal.

In fact, many restaurateurs across the country have been implementing the early-bird promo to build traffic in their operations. They’re just not always calling it that. The ‘early bird’ terminology may seem a bit archaic, especially to the younger crowd. Some operators call it ‘twilight dining’ or simply an ‘early dining’ offer. Many promote the deal as a prix fixe meal from a limited menu, offering appetizer, entrée and dessert for a special price when ordered before a certain hour. That’s one way to keep guest check averages from dipping too low.

Whatever you call it, these early birds aren’t getting the worm. They’re getting good food at a great price. While the restaurant owners are getting more people to walk through their doors.

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