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While Casual Chains Drop Prices, Fast Food Trades Up

Regardless of its location, price point, or popularity, no restaurant has remained untouched by the deteriorating economy. While many high-end restaurants have made adjustments, some of the most drastic changes taking place are happening between fast and casual food chains.

Casual restaurant chains such as Applebee's, Chili's, and TGI Friday's have desperately tried to keep sales steady with bargain deals. Applebee's started the trend by appealing to cash-strapped diners with a limited-time offer for a large appetizer with two entrees for just $20. Chili's joined in soon after with a "ten under $7" value menu. Earlier this week, TGI Friday's slashed the prices of all sandwiches and salads to a mere $5.Ironically enough, fast food chains have focused on premium items. Late last year, Burger King aimed to go higher-end with a new line of ribs, and this August, McDonald's is coming out with a one-third-pound Angus beef burger that's priced at $3.99. The number one fast food chain has also been selling specialty coffee drinks at its McCafé stores.

As both segments expand their food offerings, the casual chain and fast food sectors have become somewhat redundant. Have you frequented more fast food or casual chains lately? Which do you think has a better business model?


Join The Conversation
Rancher'sGirl Rancher'sGirl 8 years
Husband and I save up and then when we want an early evening out, we head to Applebee's for the 2-for-$20 special. Not too high-brow, I suppose, but the franchise we visit has great service and prepares the food well. :)
bluepuppybites bluepuppybites 8 years
We haven't been eating out for over a year. 1) We're saving for a house, 2) all those casual places around where we live have really crappy service except for maybe one, we usually go to the local bars/grills now if we go out.
itsme3683 itsme3683 8 years
I'm always surprised at how expensive those casual places really are! I had a Chili's gift card so I went because it was the only place open on Easter Sunday, and it was like $45 for two people! And all we got was a regular appetizer and two lunch entrees! I guess it doesn't sound like that much, but considering it was just cheese, beans, rice, a little chicken and a tortilla it seemed a little ridiculous.
deanna024 deanna024 8 years
I think the Friday's $5 any salad or sandwich deal is awesome. We have a gift card to there we haven't used yet. Now, it can get us 2 meals there instead of just 1!
Frenched Frenched 8 years
It sucks for those casual restaurant chains but people are going to try and penny pinch and eat where it's cheaper. That's why Mickey D's is doing so well.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
well i've noticed that the chains have all been doing 1/2 price apps or cheaper deals like that - but i'm not sure that it's made THAT much of a difference on traffic into the location. it's going to be interesting to see how mcd's does with their new burger. honestly, i think that they are still going to do's not like it's THAT expensive compared to what you'd pay at a restaurant.
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