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Restaurants try new lures for Black Friday shoppers

Photograph courtesy of El Pollo Loco

Retailers aren’t the only ones looking to draw shoppers this Black Friday with head-turning deals. Restaurateurs are dangling their own enticements, far beyond the usual straight discounts. Here’s a sampling.

A free lift—er, Lyft—to Dunkin’ Donuts

A number of this year’s restaurant lures are intended to land more off-premise business. Dunkin’ Donuts is a standout contrarian. The quick-service chain is offering customers a free ride to the closest unit via the Lyft car-sharing service, though with plenty of qualifications woven into the small print. The transportation will be provided only to the first 25,000 customers who request it by using a special code, and only up to $10 of a fare is covered. 

Once at a store, customers will find a number of discounts available. Medium-sized hot and cold coffee drinks will be priced at $2, and espresso shots will be available for 50 cents.

Here come the tamales

The Mexican tradition of featuring tamales during the holidays is quickly going mainstream. The catalysts are Tex-Mex chains aiming for the mass market. Taco Bueno, El Pollo Loco and Miguel’s Jr., among others, have introduced the cornhusk-wrapped street food for a limited time starting this week.  

Purists may be a taken aback by the new options. One of the three tamales added by Taco Bueno is a dessert version with a pumpkin pie-like filling. El Pollo Loco is selling its chicken tamales for $2.49 a la carte or $5.99 for the addition of four tamales to one of the chain's family meal deals.

A really big gulp

The 7-Eleven convenience store chain is resurrecting its quirky BYO cup deal for Black Friday. Customers can bring any sort of container for a Slurpee and pay just $1.49, regardless of the vessel’s size. There’s no small print to this one; the container can be a garbage can, a toilet (as long as it’s portable), a bucket or a thimble.  

Members of the chain’s loyalty program can also opt for a 50-cent slice of pizza through Cyber Monday.

Bids for off-premise business

This year’s crop of post-Thanksgiving restaurant deals includes a number of come-ons aimed at boosting off-premise business. Firehouse Subs, for instance, is offering $10 off catering orders of $100 or more. Quiznos is offering participants in its Toasty Points program a 20% discount on Friday for orders placed remotely through the sandwich chain’s app. 

Eight big restaurant chains are offering a delivery incentive via DoorDash. The first 15,000 customers to order delivery via DoorDash from the participating brands—Applebee’s, Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Jack in the Box, Wendy’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Five Guys and Wingstop—will get a free order of fries. 

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