Endless Appetizers: Worth Ten Dollars?

n Monday, July 7, 2014, I received an e-mail message from TGI Fridays — a casual dining restaurant chain with greater than 900 locations in 59 countries — which announced that for a limited period of time, I can order my choice of appetizer an unlimited amount of times during my visit at a participating restaurant for only ten dollars.

The promotion remained activated for months; and back on Tuesday, March 3, 2015, an e-mail message which I received announced that for twelve dollars, a different appetizer can be chosen each time instead of being limited to the same one for the duration of my visit.

After finally disappearing shortly thereafter, I received an e-mail message — one year after the promotion first began — announcing that the original promotion of endless appetizers for ten dollars is once again in effect…

…so is that a good deal?

Well, first of all, consider that the ten dollars does not include tax and gratuity. Figure on spending at least $12.00 when you include a gratuity of 15 percent and sales tax of five percent — and that does not include a beverage if you decide to drink something other than plain iced water.

Second, you have a choice of the following appetizers — all of which will almost certainly increase your thirst:

  • French Onion Dumplings
  • Garlic & Basil Bruschetta Flatbread
  • Spinach Florentine Flatbread
  • Loaded Potato Skins
  • Pan-Seared Pot Stickers
  • Mozzarella Sticks
  • Boneless Wings
    • SPICY: Buffalo, Sriracha Buffalo, Ghost Pepper
    • SIGNATURE: Memphis BBQ, PB&J, Garlic Parmesan
    • SWEET: Cider Glaze, Miso

 

There are few changes to the menu, as the list of appetizers available for the original promotion was as follows:

  • Loaded Potato Skins
  • Pan-Seared Pot Stickers
  • Mozzarella Sticks
  • Garlic & Basil Bruschetta
  • Tuscan Spinach Dip
  • Boneless Buffalo Wings
  • Crispy Green Bean Fries

 

You can probably create a meal out of this if you dine with at least one other person: for example, you can share your loaded potato skins with someone who will share his or her pan-seared pot stickers — and if you dine with six other people, all of you could conceivably enjoy all of the appetizer items during one visit. There is nothing in the terms and conditions of this promotion which state that sharing is not allowed; so that is a positive…

…but would you and a companion dine on as many loaded potato skins and pan-seared pot stickers as you can eat for $25.00?

You might say that you would still order something else to go with that “meal” — and I would say that that is the point of this promotion: to get you to spend more money; and if you do order something else, you might not be so inclined to take advantage of the “endless” servings of your desired appetizer.

Then there is the actual serving, in terms of both the noun and verb sense of the word: let’s say you order the Garlic & Basil Bruschetta Flatbread — basically tomato, garlic, two cheeses and basil on a crispy flat bread with a balsamic glaze and marinara sauce — and you receive four per serving. Do you have to finish your serving before you can order more — and how much time will elapse before you can get a waitperson to take your order and have it fulfilled by bringing it to your table? What if you order it ten times? How long will your entire dining experience take?

Answers to some of those questions can apparently be found in this article at Gawker pertaining to the experience of writer Caity Weaver at a TGI Fridays restaurant in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, where she actually spent 14 hours in an attempt to eat as many fried mozzarella sticks as she could in one sitting — and seemingly documented every excruciating minute of it in what became a tome filled with levity which is worth the read.

When I lived in Brooklyn, there was no TGI Fridays restaurant in Sheepshead Bay — or anywhere in Brooklyn, for that matter. I remember a time when a chain restaurant was rare to find in Brooklyn. No Brooklynite in his or her right mind would even consider going to a Pizza Hut or Dominos instead of an authentic pizzeria for a slice.

In fact, there was a Domino’s Pizzeria which was around before the chain became popular — and no, it was not affiliated with the chain. I do not believe it exists any longer. Sad — but I digress…

I asked someone about her opinion pertaining to this promotion, as she would most likely order the boneless wings. “One serving would typically cost about seven or eight dollars for ten of those wings”, she said — and she would not order another serving, as that one serving would suffice with her.

This promotion is clearly not for her — or for you either if only one serving suffices.

Unless you particularly enjoy a specific appetizer item — to the point where you found yourself saying “I could eat these all day long!” — which is one of the seven being offered, this promotion is probably not for you. There are no items which I would consider ordering from that list — and even if there were, the thought of eating “endless” portions of them is not appetizing for me.

In other words, I believe that this promotion is merely a gimmick to get you in the door. I am not biting on this promotion — even as a member of the Give Me More Stripes frequent dining loyalty program — nor do I intend to do so; but I will never say never.

To digress for a moment, did you know that Club Carlson and TGI Fridays are both divisions of Carlson, Incorporated? They teamed up for a great promotion back in November of 2011 where I received 4,500 Gold Points and 50 Stripes points simply for signing up to join the Club Carlson Gold Points frequent guest loyalty program; and I redeemed some of those Club Carlson frequent guest loyalty program points for a free night at a hotel property in Europe — about which I reviewed in this article — while I used the Stripes points for free food at a TGI Fridays restaurant.

If “endless food” at a chain restaurant is what you are after, there are plenty of choices — including but not limited to the following:

  • Red Robin You can have your choice of endless fries, sweet potato fries, cole slaw or broccoli with any hamburger order — and you can receive deals on meals if you are a member of the Red Robin Royalty loyalty program
  • Ruby Tuesday For $2.99, you can take as many trips to the salad bar as you like with the purchase of any meal; or you can order the endless salad bar as a meal by itself for $8.99 — and if you are So Connected, you can receive good discounts regularly via e-mail message
  • Sweet Tomatoes or Souplantation This is an all-buffet restaurant where healthy salad options, as well as pasta dishes, soups and baked goods are offered which you can eat as much as you like — and sign up for Club Veg to receive weekly e-mail messages with discount coupons
  • Olive Garden Unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks for $6.99 was a great deal offered at this restaurant chain — but I am unsure as to whether or not it still exists

 

When you consider all of the all-you-can-eat options which continuously exist at a number of restaurants — and they all include healthy food options — for either less money or not much more than the cost of one endless appetizer at TGI Fridays, the choice seems to be clear to me.

The best part is that at least some of the options — whether or not they are listed above — are available wherever you travel within the United States.

At what restaurants which offer an option of all you can eat do you patronize — and why? Does the endless appetizers option for ten dollars at TGI Fridays appeal to you?

Photographs courtesy of TGI Fridays.

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