OPINIONMarketing

Restaurants spring for leap day deals

Marketing Bites: It only comes around every four years, after all. Plus, lots of developments in restaurant loyalty programs.
Cowboy Chicken
Cowboy Chicken is among the restaurants offering leap day promotions this month. | Photo: Shutterstock
Marketing Bites

It may be hard to believe since it feels like yesterday and also 50 years ago, but the last time February had an extra day was in 2020—just before the world shut down because of the pandemic.

(In fact, I wrote about what restaurants were doing for leap day 2020 and have no memory of it.)

Here’s hoping 2024’s bonus Feb. 29 ushers in nothing but the month of March. And a solid serving of restaurant promos.

Restaurants, though, appear to be a bit quiet this time around about leap year—at least so far. But that could be a function of timing: We just had the Super Bowl and, now, Valentine’s Day.

That’s already a lot for the marketing calendar. But several brands aren’t letting that stop them.

We’ve got:

A free rotisserie-cooked chicken at Cowboy Chicken locations for anybody born on Feb. 29, a.k.a “leaplings.”

Two steamed Maine lobsters at Legal Sea Foods for $29 on Feb. 29.

Jeremiah’s Italian Ice is observing Leap Back month in February, culminating in a Leap Day Party on the big day. Members of the treat chain’s J-List rewards program can get 96-cent small ices and gelatis, a leap-back price that’s a nod to the year the concept debuted.

New York City restaurants Baar Baar and Gulaabo will offer leap day menu specials, including an appetizer sampler at Baar Baar for $20.24 and two-for-one specialty cocktails at both establishments.

And, if you have children under 52 inches tall who need to burn off some leap day energy, send ‘em to Chuck E. Cheese (with a chaperone, probably). On Feb. 29, they’ll get free all-day jump passes at any of the eatertainment chain’s locations that feature Trampoline Zones.

Developments in loyalty land

A number of restaurant brands big and small have been shaking up their loyalty offerings in recent weeks, looking to reward frequent diners and drive new traffic.

Kentucky Fried Chicken debuted its new KFC Rewards program this month. Members earn 10 points for every dollar spent at the chain. Points can be redeemed for a rotating selection of free foods.

KFC CMO Nick Chavez, in a statement, said the current rewards selection “is only the beginning” and that rewards members will be treated to incentives and special experiences in the future.

Full-service Taffer’s Tavern, which has three locations, unveiled this week a new rewards program and app. Upon registering, diners receive 100 points, accruing more the more they spend at the restaurants. Customers can get $5 off for 400 points, $10 off at 700 points and $20 off for 1,300 points. There are also bonus rewards, such as free milk & cookies or dessert with every fifth visit.

“Guest frequency is paramount to any restaurant’s success,” owner Jon Taffer said. “At Taffer’s Tavern, we have this amazing drive to get our guests back again and again.”

Twenty-unit taco concept Tacombi this week announced what it is calling the Taco Taco Club. But it’s a club that’ll let anybody in—on Tuesdays at least.

Billed as an “automatic, exclusive” club, Tacombi’s promo entitles anyone who comes in on Tuesdays to buy-one, get-one tacos all day.

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