Bob Evans aims for Florida bargain-hunters with a new meal deal

The family-dining chain is offering a bundled Dinner for 2 for $22.99, but just within the Sunshine State.
Bob Evans' Dinner for 2 options. | Photo courtesy of Bob Evans

With Florida emerging as a particularly tough arena for family dining, Bob Evans restaurants there are borrowing a common traffic lure from the casual market, a bargain-priced bundled-meal deal.

The venerable family chain is aiming to entice couples with the dinnertime offer of two “starters,” two entrees and a shared dessert, all for a single price starting at $22.99.

For a starter, patrons can choose either soup or salad.

The entree choices include a chicken and noodles deep-dish casserole; chopped steak; one piece of fried or grilled chicken; or country fried steak.

The desserts offered as part of the Dinner for 2 deal include apple or peanut butter pie, chocolate cake and an ice cream sundae.

For an extra charge of $5, guests can expand their entree choices to include a fish-fry platter, pot roast, turkey and dressing, steak tips and pot roast.

The meals are available both as a dine-in and takeout option.

The chain said it featured the deal as a to-go option systemwide but had not offered it as a dine-in option. Florida is the chain’s first market to serve the packaged deals on-premise.

The Sunshine State was chosen as the first to offer the dinners for dine-in service in part because sales of to-go Dinners for 2 were particularly strong there, according to the chain.

“As a brand, Bob Evans has always been committed to providing exceptional value to our customers,” Bob Holtcamp, Bob Evans’ president and CMO, said in a statement. “With our new Dinner for 2 special, we aim to enhance that commitment.”

The deal is being rolled into Florida amid reports that Bob Evans owner Golden Gate Capital is looking to sell the chain.

Competitors have acknowledged that Florida is proving a particularly difficult market for the family-dining sector. Bob Evans rivals Denny’s and First Watch both cited the state as extraordinarily challenging during their most recent conference calls with financial analysts.

“There has been some improvement over the course of the quarter, but with regard to relative positioning to the balance of the US, it would still fall in the bottom quintile of our sales performance,”Denny’s CFO Robert Verostek said during his charge’s call.

Chris Tomasso, CEO of First Watch, cited research that shows the “restaurant business actually contracted over the last several quarters throughout the state.

“We believe that the traffic benefit the state enjoyed in the several years following the initial outbreak of COVID is now normalizing,” he told Wall Street.

Bundled meals were widely offered in casual dining in the wake of the Great Recession and during difficult stretches in the years that followed.

With traffic slumping for much of the casual sector, the deals are reappearing. Chili’s, for instance, is offering a 3 for Me deal consisting of a refillable non-alcoholic beverage, unlimited chips and salsa, an appetizer and such entrees as burgers and chicken strips. The deal is priced at $10.99.

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