According to a report in USA Today, the nation's struggling full-service restaurant chains seem to have found only one sure-fire way to lure folks in the door: cheap eats.
Chili's is about to roll out meals for less than $7. Texas Roadhouse is offering $7.99 meals. T.G.I. Friday's has $9.99 entrees. Outback has rolled out some entrees at $9.95. Even upscale Morton's Steakhouse has a value deal.
Almost every chain in the $183 billion full-service dining industry is waving a meal deal that beckons customers with low-ball prices — with the hope folks spend more once they come in. Times are so tough that some deals fall within a few dollars of fast food.
"The fact that you can eat a full-service meal for under $10 is incredible," says Christopher Muller, hospitality professor at University of Central Florida. "You couldn't even eat this cheaply in 1992."
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