In what may be a sign that restaurants are desperate to drum up business during a rough economy, some have begun resorting to doing something that seems to go agains their business plan: giving away food for free.

I suppose the hope is that if customers go to the restaurant for freebies, they also buy something to go along with the giveaway. Sonic Drive-In recently had a "free rootbeer float" night, something that I believe they have done in the past. Another restaurant, Shorty Small's, is giving away a free hambuger (one per table) if a customer tells the server "give me the burger, baby!" Each Wednesday throughout the summer, Arby's is giving away a free menu item with the purchase of a sandwich or a soft drink, depending upon the special of the week.

Most of these "free food" offers are found at fast-food or chain restaurants. Other restaurants aren't exactly giving food away, but they are making it much cheaper. Several fast food chains have expanded their "dollar menu" or "value menu" offerings in an effort to appeal to a wider customer base. Some restaurants/taverns are offering free food along with drink purchases during Happy Hour.

These lower prices are, of course, good for customers. However, keep in mind that most of them still require a purchase, and it can still be cheaper (and healthier) to just prepare your own food at home. But, if you plan to go out to eat anyway, go ahead and shop around. You just might be able to score some cheap (or free!) food.


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