Thousands, perhaps millions, of fathers will receive customary Father’s Day gifts June 19 like neckties, socks and golf balls, but restaurants are making it easier for guests to give their dads free and discounted food and dining experiences on their special day.
Many of the Dad-focused deals can be found in casual dining and some upscale segments like steakhouses, where the appeal to male diners and ability to tie promotions to the bar program are more apparent.
T.G.I. Friday’s, for example, is kicking off its “summer of beer” in time for Father’s Day with a Buy Your Friend a Beer application on Facebook that’s also being marketed on T.G.I. Friday’s website as perfect for Dad. Any 21-year-old or older fan can “like” the more than 900-unit brand on Facebook and order up to five electronic gift cards redeemable for any beer or $5 off food or nonalcoholic beverages.
“No matter the time or place,” vice president of brand marketing Shannon Gweinner said in a statement, “our guests can share that Friday feeling and use this latest app to surprise their Facebook friends, including dads, with a cold one this summer.”
Promotional materials for the Father’s Day special at 77-unit Morton’s The Steakhouse reads, “We call it a MEN-u for a reason,” and touts a three-course prix fix available only on Sunday the 19th. For $69 per person, fathers and their families can choose a soup or salad, one of five entrees, and a dessert of carrot cake or the Legendary Hot Chocolate Cake.
Still other restaurant chains with slightly more overt appeal to men are gearing up for Father’s Day as well.
Given Hooters’ audience split of 68 percent male and 32 percent female, “we have more relevance to a male demographic than a female one,” vice president of marketing Mike McNeil said.
“Father’s Day is definitely better than an average Sunday,” McNeil said. “We get much more family traffic as well, because dads don’t just come in by themselves.”
Hooters sees a significant upswing in gift card sales on around Father’s Day, approaching the increase in gift card purchases recorded during the Christmas holiday shopping season. It’s also a time when sales of Hooters-branded T-shirts, golf balls and other merchandise spike, McNeil said.
The 435-unit chain will give a $5 bonus to every purchaser of a $25 gift card for Father’s Day and will run its popular wings special from Wednesdays, McNeil said.
“We’ll do the buy-10-wings-get-10-free deal all day long on Sunday,” he said. “It’s for fathers, but everybody’s a dad on Father’s Day, right?”
The same deal led to a slight pickup last month on Mother’s Day, even though Hooters does not typically enjoy the same bump the whole restaurant industry gets on that holiday.
“We did 10 free wings for Mom, put a little media behind it and got some nice press attention for it,” McNeil said. “Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien commented about it in their monologues, and we actually saw a nice uptick in our Mother’s Day business.”
Similar guy-focused “breastaurants” are running special events. Addison, Texas-based Twin Peaks, for instance, will host a Father’s Day Bikini Car Wash, while the San Diego location of The Tilted Kilt will have food specials running all day as well as a TK Calendar Girl photo shoot in the morning.
Brunch is typically associated with Mother’s Day restaurant traffic, but Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is celebrating Father’s Day with early hours and a prix-fixe brunch. The three-course brunch costs $32.95 for adults and $15.95 for children and offer the choice of one among two salads, five entrees and three desserts. A special Father’s Day cocktail, the Fleming’s Button-Down, features Jack Daniel’s whiskey mixed with fresh lemon juice, maple syrup and a dash of bitters, garnished with a lemon twist.
At the 94 locations of McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants, fathers and their families will be treated not only to a $29.95 Father’s Day Weekend Menu, but they also can enter a sweepstakes to win a trip for two to one of Golf magazine’s “Top 100 Courses to Play.” In addition to the special brunch and the Golf Experience of a Lifetime drawing, a “Tee Up for Father’s Day” drink list will be offered, featuring cocktail’s like Gentleman’s Tea, Clubhouse Lemonade and Father Knows Best.
Even some quick-service chains are getting into the act. The Counter, a 30-unit burger chain in the Los Angeles area, is offering the BFD, or “burger for Dad,” on Father’s Day only. A free one-third-pound burger will go to any father that visits The Counter with a paying customer and says, “I want the BFD.” Also, for the fourth straight year, frozen-yogurt chain TCBY will offer a free small cup or cone of its signature product to dads on Father’s Day. TCBY has more than 600 locations in the United States and internationally.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the number of locations for The Counter. The chain has 30 units.