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Subway-Footlong.JPG Subway
Subway sends consumers Footlong virtual coupon for takeout and drive-thru.

Restaurant chains launch recession-like deals on delivery and takeout orders

Subway, Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, KFC, Del Taco and Chipotle look to drive off-premise transactions through free delivery and markdowns on takeout as dine-in operations come to a near halt across the U.S.

With the move to off-premise only operations, chains are acting swiftly to launch promotions including Subway, Chipotle Mexican Grill, El Torito, Chevys, Boston Market, Jamba, Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, El Torito, Noodles & Company and Jack in the Box.

Deals are reminiscent of discounts chains offer during a recession. Discounts include markdowns on signature items, large to-go orders, and free delivery. 

In a recession, economists will tell you that the restaurant industry is one of the first sectors to get hit as consumers hold off on discretionary spending. While no one has declared a recession yet (GDP must decline for more than two consecutive quarters, first), there’s no doubt restaurants are seeing rapid revenue declines because of the COVID-19 outbreak as dine-in operations have come to a near halt across the U.S.

The need for takeout and delivery services will become even greater in New York and California, where governors of those states have told residents to stay at home as much as possible.  

“I do expect steep discounting as restaurants fight to be the destination for the soon-to-be pent-up demand,” said restaurant analyst Tim Powell of Foodservice IP in Chicago. 

Subway, which just announced the systemwide closure of dining rooms in North America, sent consumers a $5.99 coupon for a Footlong sandwich this week via email. That’s a savings of about 50 cents to $1, depending on the sandwich. The coupon is valid through March 22 for takeout and drive-thru locations only.

Here’s a roundup of other brands offering coronavirus-related discounts: 

  • Jack in the Box said it is thanking community members during the coronavirus crisis by offering 25% off total orders made through chain's mobile app through the end of March.
  • Del Taco is offering free delivery through Postmates, Grubhub and DoorDash. For Postmates, enter the promo code: DELTACONOW
  • Taco Bell is offering free delivery for first-time orders made through Grubhub. Valid on orders of $12 or more.
  • KFC announced last week that it would offer free delivery across the U.S. through April 26 via kfc.com, Grubhub.com or Seamless.com.
  • Jamba is now offering free delivery on smoothies and juices ordered through the chain's branded digital channels. Contactless deliveries are available upon request.
  • Noodles & Company announced late Thursday that it will offer free delivery on all orders of $15 or placed on the company’s digital channels (app or website) through March 31.  Additionally, free delivery is available to customers ordering Noodles through DoorDash and UberEats. The free delivery is valid through March 31 at participating locations.
  • Subway’s $5.99 coupon was emailed this week to customers. The coupon states it is valid on “any Footlong” sandwich through March 22. “Each Subway restaurant is individually owned and operated, so participation in this offer may vary,” the company said. “The brand recommends contacting your local Subway restaurant to confirm if they are participating in the offer.” 
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill added a new delivery partner this week, Uber Eats. Delivery fees made through Uber Eats in March will also be waived for orders of $10 or more. Chipotle also is waiving delivery fees made through its digital channels through the end of March. 
  • Boston Market has created a menu of “home delivery meals” and is offering free delivery on orders placed online at BostonMarket.com or via the brand’s app. 
  • Romano’s Macaroni Grill is offering free delivery and contactless doorstep drop off on all orders nationwide including the chain’s signature Feast for Five meal, which costs $25. The meal is available Sunday through Thursday starting at 4 p.m.
  • El Torito, Chevys and Acapulco, whose parent company is Cypress-based Xperience Restaurant Group, is offering $10 off $35 or more for all take-out orders. Each full-service restaurant is also offering a free kids meal on takeout orders. (Dining rooms are not open)
  • Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is extending its popular Kids Eat Free offer online to guests. Available on Sundays for customers who place an order of $10 or more on Dickeys.com or Dickey’s app. Use the code KEFOLO. 
  • Lemonade is offering 30% off takeout or delivery orders. Use the code: SAVERESTAURANTS
  • TGI Fridays is offering free delivery through Uber Eats. Valid on orders of $25 or more through the weekend. 

Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected] 

Follow her on Twitter: @fastfoodmaven

For our most up-to-date coverage, visit the coronavirus homepage.

This story will be updated regularly as we learn of more chain deals and promotions.

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