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Love and menus and other great ideas this week

Idea No. 1: Search results get menu saavy
Earlier this week, SearchEngineLand reported that Google has begun quietly experimenting with displaying full menus and prices at the top of search results for some restaurants. A search for “Primebar menu” for example, displays an “At a Glance” portion of the Chicago restaurant’s menu as well as tabs that users can click to see the full list of dishes in each menu category (small plates, steaks and chops, etc.).

It’s a plus for restaurants with less-than-stellar websites, but it’s not without problems. For example, the menus from Google may not necessarily match up with the restaurant’s. Google lists a Crispy Calamari with cocktail sauce and lemon caper aioli at Primebar for $10.99, while the restaurant’s own website describes a Crispy Calamari with cherry peppers, lemon caper and sriracha aioli for $10. And the Strawberry Fresco Salad Google shows doesn’t appear on Primebar’s current menu. SearchEngineLand also points out that the new search-result style “nearly eliminates the need to visit a restaurant’s website and thus limits their ability to do cross-promotions or display special event information.”

Idea No. 2: Restaurants go looking for love
Restaurants are adopting some, um, “interesting” ways to capture the hearts—and dollars—of couples on Valentine’s Day. For the third year, Lexington, Ky.-based Fazoli’s is offering two certificates for a year of free spaghetti to any couple who gets engaged at the Italian fast-food chain on Feb. 14. Qdoba added a twist to its four-year-old promotion: Now guests can claim a buy-one-get-one deal for the price of a kiss. That kiss can be with a friend, family member, love interest or even a “willing stranger.” Dairy Queen will provide the food and cake for any customers who want to get married inside the restaurant.

Idea No. 3: Long John Silver’s aims high
New television spots from the seafood chain aren’t touting its Ciabatta Jack Fish sandwich or its Crab Cakes; in fact, they don’t even show the food. Instead the 15-second ads are aiming straight at consumers’ values promoting its more sustainable approach to harvesting seafood and encouraging people to “Think Fish.” This big picture approach is undeniably appealing—just look at the post-Super Bowl buzz generated by Coca-Cola’s “America the Beautiful” commercial (see below), which has been viewed more than 10 million times on YouTube. Whether this effort can get customers think Long John Silver’s when they think fish remains to be seen.

And the "dumbest" idea of the week: Dumb Starbucks
What started out as a “parody” by Comedy Central’s Nathan Fielder resulted in the pop-up restaurant being shut down by the Los Angeles health department, the real Starbucks getting its dander up—and worst of all, opportunists offering Dumb Starbucks unofficial merchandise on Ebay for hundreds of bucks.

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