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Restaurants tap into enduring ‘Sex’ appeal

As Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda steam up the big screen again in “Sex and the City 2,” operators nationwide are looking to heat up their own sales with a profusion of promotions.

From drink specials to makeovers to trips to New York, restaurants are hauling out enticements to lure fans of the well-heeled foursome into dining or drinking before or after the movie, which opened last week. The sequel booked $51.4 million in sales in its first five days, according to Variety, and ticket sales are expected to equal if not surpass its 2008 predecessor, which made $152.6 million domestically and $374.1 million worldwide.

Looking to capitalize on Sex and the City’s popularity, Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Kona Grill unveiled a “Sushi & the City” promotion, including specialty sushi rolls and signature drinks as well as the chance to win a trip for two to New York City. Winners will stay at the Plaza Hotel and enjoy a shopping spree for a pair of Manolo Blahniks. Raffle tickets can be purchased for $1 throughout the promotion, which ends June 6.

“The anticipation and excitement surrounding the release of this second ‘Sex and the City’ film is enormous, and Kona Grill promises to be the ideal-pre and post movie-place to get ‘Carried Away,’” said Rachel Phillips-Luther, vice president of marketing and brand innovation for the 24-unit casual-dining chain.

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is inviting SATC fans to come in for their own pre-screening parties before heading out to the movie. The chain is offering five wines, five cocktails and five appetizers for just $6 until 7 p.m. nightly as part of its “5 for $6 ‘til 7” bar menu. Two of the featured drinks boast just 99 calories, including the Bikinitini, made with Svedka Clementine vodka.

The promotion is another in Fleming’s efforts to broaden its appeal to women. Last month, the 64-unit casual-dining chain rolled out a new menu featuring smaller portions and more seafood dishes. Fleming’s is owned by Tampa, Fla.-based OSI Restaurant Partners LLC.

T.G.I. Friday’s is offering two “Sex and the City”-inspired drinks for a limited time, including the Park Avenue Princess and the Glamour Girl. The Park Avenue Princess features Skyy citrus-infused vodka, lemon and lime mix and Sprite, topped off with Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Glamour Gal features Skyy citrus-infused vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice, and lemon and lime mix.

Carrolton, Texas-based T.G.I. Friday’s is owned by Carlson Restaurants Worldwide Inc., which operates, franchises or licenses more than 1,000 restaurants in 60 countries.

Melting Pot restaurants across the country invited fans to dress as their favorite SATC character and come in for Cocktails & Couture to celebrate the sequel’s opening. On the menu were a multi-course fondue dinner as well as specialty martinis and SATC-themed prizes. The 145-unit casual-dining chain is based in Tampa, Fla.

Among independent operators looking to share in the SATC excitement, The Coquette Boutique and Bistro, a Houston store offering both designer attire and small plates, threw a “Coquette in the City” party on May 27, featuring food, cosmopolitans, makeovers and psychic readings.

And for dessert, several cupcake purveyors have unveiled SATC-inspired treats. At Crumbs Bake Shop in New York and Los Angeles, the new assortment is called Girls Night Out. Flavors include Margarita; Cosmo; Chocolate Praline; Raspberry Chocolate Curl; Oh La La, chocolate cake filled and frosted with pink-tinted vanilla cream cheese frosting and topped with a heart-shaped brownie; and a vanilla cupcake topped with pink cream cheese frosting and edged with sprinkles. A six pack of cupcakes in Crumbs’ signature size of 4.25 inches per cake costs $27.

And New York-based Magnolia Bakery, where SATC’s main character Carrie was known during the show’s heyday to surrender to her sweet tooth, has introduced the pink-frosted Carrie Cupcake.

Contact Robin Lee Allen at [email protected].

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