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Restaurants eye sweet success with Halloween promos

Restaurants eye sweet success with Halloween promos

With Halloween falling on a Saturday night this year, restaurateurs across the country are hoping to revive zombified guest traffic all weekend by offering ghoulishly value-added treats — as well as a few tricks.

Promotions range from cute, including Papa Murphy’s Jack-O-Lantern pizzas, to downright creepy, such as the “Eye Scream” dessert at 2941 Restaurant in Falls Church, Va.

At Papa Murphy’s, the 1,150-unit take ‘n’ bake pizza chain based in Vancouver, Wash., Halloween is one of the busiest days of the year because of the chain’s annual sale of Jack-O-Lantern pizzas. The pizzas feature pepperoni arranged to resemble the face of a Halloween carved pumpkin.

With a recommended price starting at $6.99, the pizzas are available this week in a promotion scheduled to end at close of business on Saturday. Last year, about 25 percent of the chain’s stores set sales records on Halloween night, said Lindsi Miller, Papa Murphy’s director of corporate communications.

For customers looking for special effects, the Eye Scream dessert at 2941 Restaurant was designed by pastry chef Anthony Chavez. Available throughout October, the dessert includes Valrhona white chocolate, pistachio mousse and raspberry-lychee coulis, presented on a smoking dish of dry ice. The dish is priced at $15, a la carte, or for an additional $10 along with one of the restaurant’s two prix-fixe options, including four courses for $58 and a three-course bar tasting menu for $30.

Additional Halloween treats:

— T.G.I. Friday’s is hosting what company officials have dubbed America’s Largest Halloween Party on Thursday from 9 p.m. to closing at nearly 600 locations across the country, kicking off Halloween Weekend 2009.

Guests in costume can select among penny-priced appetizers with the purchase of a beverage in the bar. Members of Friday’s Give Me More Stripes loyalty program will receive an email coupon for the offer, which for them can be redeemed before 9 p.m., allowing them to “jump the line.”

The chain also will introduce holiday-themed signature drinks, such as the Pumpkin Pie Martini, made with Captain Morgan, kahlua, butterscotch schnapps and pumpkin pie spices and served with a touch of whipped cream.

— Ashmont Grill in Boston is also hosting a costume party featuring cocktails including The Great Pumpkin and BooBerry, and a fall dinner menu with items such as pan-seared monkfish with wild rice and brown butter-caper sauce; duck breast with Macomber turnip puree, red cabbage and Concord grapes; and pumpkin-spiced pecan cheesecake with rum sauce.

— The “Halloween on the Green” costume party scheduled for Tavern on the Green in New York on Saturday will include a menu featuring crispy panko chicken breasts with honey-mustard sauce, flatiron beef brochettes with yakitori glaze, herbs de Provence-flecked chicken breast skewers, and miniature brie asparagus quiche. Food and drink are free that night, but advance tickets of $60 to $130 are required to get in.

— In Atlanta, Here to Serve Restaurants, a multi-concept operator, is offering various Halloween festivities this weekend. Kids in costume can eat free on Friday from 5-7 p.m. at the company’s Lola, Home or Goldfish restaurants — so long as a grown up with them purchases an entrée.

The company’s restaurant Shout will host a benefit for AID Atlanta on the roof on Saturday, featuring $6 drink specials, $5 tapas and a DJ from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. And the restaurant Aja on Saturday will host The Vampires Ball with “all creatures of the night” welcome.

— Uno Chicago Grill, based in Boston, is also inviting parents to bring their trick-or-treaters in for pizza to “avoid the doorbell” and dine in costume on Saturday. Young customers will receive trick-or-treat goodies, such as free Craisin packets, and they can decorate pumpkins. Kids in costume can get a free make-your-own pizza. The activities will be offered from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Later that night at Uno, adults can attend a Halloween costume party in the lounge with a special Snack Hour from 8 p.m. to closing, special holiday cocktails and a costume contest.

For guests hiding from the terror of the recession, Uno has also rolled back the price of its Take-Out, Deep-Dish Double Deal at participating locations to $19.99 for two, a savings of at least $11, officials said.

— Taco Bell is also attempting to lure in budget-minded Halloween diners with the offer of a free Black Jack Taco between 6 p.m. and midnight at participating restaurants throughout the 5,600-unit chain. The new limited-time menu addition, which typically sells for the suggested price of 89 cents, features a black taco shell filled with seasoned beef and a pepper jack sauce.

Saturday is also the night of game three in the World Series, and Taco Bell is the official quick-service restaurant of Major League Baseball, officials noted.

“We know everyone will be celebrating Halloween this year glued to their television sets watching a thrilling World Series Game Three, and there’s no better snack this Saturday than a free Black Jack Taco,” said John Brody, MLB senior vice president, corporate sales and marketing. “Taco Bell has once again delivered with a tremendous, fan-friendly promotion that celebrates baseball and the World Series in a way that everyone can enjoy.”

— Screme Gelato Café, the appropriately named two-unit operation in New York, has concocted a new Candy Corn gelato flavor, made with the real candy, and available through Saturday.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].

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