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    Restaurants Kick Off New Year With New Offers

    Several chains look to fresh deals, promotions and menu items to jumpstart 2010.

    NEW YORK -- Restaurant chains have kicked off the New Year with fresh deals, promotions and menu items. Among the brands looking to start strong in January are Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, Pizza Hut, Papa John's and Ruby Tuesday, according to a report by Nation's Restaurant News.

    Taco Bell, hoping to attract consumers beginning annual resolutions to eat more healthy, introduced its long-awaited Drive-Thru Diet campaign, which features the seven Fresco-style menu items with nine grams of fat or less that the chain introduced this summer.

    Chick-fil-A followed a similar angle and introduced a low-fat yogurt parfait with fresh fruit that was slated to be available beginning yesterday.

    Pizza Hut and Papa John's are each gearing up for January, a month typically filled with reasons for customers to order pizzas -- from New Year's Eve celebrations and college football bowl games, to NFL division title matchups. Pizza Hut introduced a $10 campaign, and Papa John's debuted the inaugural "National Football Month," including special deals and a sweepstakes for customers through the first month of the year.

    Meanwhile, Ruby Tuesday decided to start 2010 with a giveaway and plans to offer bar guests a free Ruby Mini, or miniature burger, with fries, when a customer orders his or her first drink priced at $3 or more. The giveaway took place all day Jan. 1, and will continue for the rest of the year for customers visiting the bar after 9 p.m.

    It looks as though 2010 may not be any different than 2009, which was the year of innovative value-driven menu and marketing moves, the report stated.

    "Consumers continue to reward innovations that align with their rapidly changing lifestyles and add experience value to restaurant occasions, so we're sure to see industry innovation continue next year," Ron Paul, president of Technomic Inc., a Chicago-based foodservice consulting firm, told Nation's Restaurant News.

    Paul predicts that discounts and deals will continue as far as the eye can see.

    "Just as consumers are learning never to pay full price at the shopping center, they've come to expect deals in restaurants," he said. "Restaurants at all price points will offer eye-popping deals and combos, increasingly relying on limited-time offers, seasonal specials, flavor enhancers and rotating combos to keep menus fresh."

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