The return of the Twin Cities date night special
Some Twin Cities restaurants are once again serving up targeted discounts to lure customers back, even as rising food prices eat into their margins.
What's happening: Pandemic disruptions and soaring inflation might seem like a recipe for canceling deals and date night specials. Indeed, an Axios review of date night deals found that is the case for some restaurants.
- But others are stepping up the promotions in hopes of boosting business long term.
What they're saying: "It's brand awareness. We don't look at it money-wise, we look at getting repeat customers," Ashleigh Newman, owner of Tongue in Cheek in St. Paul, told Axios.
- She's considering promoting the restaurant's discounted date night menu again this summer.
Meanwhile: Broders' Pasta Bar's long-running date night — an appetizer, two salads and two entrees for $40 — has been so successful the Minneapolis restaurant plans to offer specials at its other restaurant in the city, Terzo, executive director Charlie Broder told Axios.
- "If we took it away, there would be a revolt. It might not be the most profitable… but it's a way to welcome people back into restaurants and bring a sense of familiarity," he said.
What we're seeing: It's not just restaurants creating date night deals. Arcade and mini-golf venue Can Can Wonderland is adding multiple specials next month, including "First Date Thursdays."
- Couples receive an envelope with a list of suggested questions and talking points, a scavenger hunt, two stickers and a mystery buy one, get one coupon.
- Saint Paul Brewing is also starting a BOGO date night special, which includes a free four-pack of dog treats if you bring your pup on your date.
The other side: Not everyone is keeping the lower-cost options on the menu: An Axios review of 10 restaurants with date night deals listed before 2020 found only three still advertise them as available.
The bottom line: Losing money in the short term may bring in more customers, but it remains to be seen if the gamble will pay off.
Tell us: Heard of any good date night deals in your neighborhood? Email me at [email protected].
- My recommendation: Bryant Lake Bowl's Cheap Date Night, which offers two entrees, wine or beer and a game of bowling for $28 a couple.
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