South Florida restaurants stagger promotions through slow summer months

By Justine Griffin, Sun Sentinel, 9:01 PM EDT, June 14, 2012

South Florida restaurants are looking for new ways to keep customers coming back through the hot summer season.

It’s a cycle that the restaurant industry in South Florida has come to anticipate as the snowbird community heads north in late spring. This year, more restaurants are using summertime holidays, likeFather’s Day, as a way to bring people back into their dining rooms.

“You’re seeing more restaurants crafting discounts around summer holidays and events, like Cinco de Mayo and Father’s Day, when people are more likely to go out,” said Darren Tristano, the executive vice president of Technomic, a restaurant consulting firm.

Big City Tavern on Las Olas Boulevard and City Oyster & Sushi Bar in Delray Beach are offering Father’s Day promotions for the first time this year, said co-owner of Big Time Restaurant Group, Todd Herbst.

“We decided we wanted to try something different this year,” Herbst said. “Mother’s Day is always a big holiday for us, but we figured we would try and see how Father’s Day would hold up in comparison.”

The average person will spend $117 on dad for Father’s Day, according the National Retail Federation, as compared to the $152 per person spent on Mother’s Day.

All four Big Time Restaurant Group establishments will be offering 50 percent draft and bottled beer with the purchase of an entree on Father’s Day, and kids under 10 eat free. Big Time also owns Grease Burger Bar and Cellar Wine Bar & Grill in West Palm Beach.

“Slow seasons give restaurants ample opportunity to promote new products, where customers can go out and try new dishes,” Tristano said. “It gives customers just one more reason to go out.”

Big City Tavern in Fort Lauderdale will be pushing their endless mimosas on summer lunch menus and wine down Wednesdays, which offer half off bottles of wine under $99, Herbst said.

“All of this is geared toward locals,” Herbst said. “We get a steady stream of tourists who come in, but we want to have something to offer those that live here.”

Mario Ristorante Italiano and Wine Bar in Coconut Creek is offering a summer weekday dining promotion for the first time in the restaurant’s five-year history, said owner, Mario Spina.

“The last few summers have been the worst I’ve ever seen,” said Spina, who’s worked in the industry in South Florida for more than 30 years.

The promotion is a three-course dinner for $26.95 offered Monday through Thursday between 5 and 6:30 p.m. The savings are more than 30 percent off the regular priced items on the menu, he said.

Tundra, an ice-themed restaurant that opened late last year on Las Olas Boulevard, recently dropped menu prices by 20 percent to keep locals coming back, owner David Berman said.

Palm Beach Restaurant Week showcased several dozen restaurants in the county last week. Miami Spice, a month long dining out promotion, will run Aug. 1-Sept. 30, and Dine Out Lauderdale runs Oct. 1-Nov. 8.

Copyright © 2012, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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