Call it the annual Mother's Day eat-a-thon.
Maybe your mom's a bit hesitant to pig-out on Mother's Day, but if she's game, she can pretty much eat her way right though the day — often for free — with just a little planning.
Even with the economy improving, the restaurant industry battle for Mother's Day business is fierce, leaving many iconic casual-dining chains eager to lure the 38% of consumers who plan to dine out on Mother's Day, according to a new survey from the National Restaurant Association. Among the most effective incentives: free eats.
Mother's Day freebies — love 'em or hate 'em — can become the great "differentiator" that determines which restaurant an entire family walks into, says Sam Oches, editor of QSR Magazine, a food industry trade publication.
Here's a hypothetical schedule that takes you from morning to night on Mother's Day. It might work for those willing to race around town (many of the freebies are available much of the day):
9 a.m.: Free slice of strawberry pie. Shoney's has been doing this for years on Mother's Day — a free slice of strawberry pie for all moms who order a meal off of its menu or Mother's Day buffet.
11 a.m.: Free Bundt cake. It's free bottoms Up Bundt Cake, a Corner Bakery specialty. Bring in the printable coupon and Mom gets a six-pack of Bundts with the purchase of any lunch or dinner entree.
1 p.m.: Free lunch. You may want to double-check that Mom's actually a fan of Hooters. As long as she orders any Hooters drink, Mom gets an entree worth up to $10.99 for free. This includes everything from the Shrimp and Spinach Salad to the Smothered Chicken Sandwich to the 10 piece Wings combo. Or a burger, of course
2 p.m.: Free chocolate-dipped strawberry. Every mother gets one at McCormick & Schmick's.
3 p.m.: Free dessert. Want more sweets? Hurricane Grill & Wings is touting a free dessert for Mom with the purchase of any entree. Among the offerings: key lime pies, sea salt caramel cheesecake and Hershey's chocolate fudge cake. For the purist, there's also vanilla ice cream.
5 p.m.: Free appetizer. What's dinner without a starter? At Spaghetti Warehouse, if you pre-register online, Mom gets a free one. You also can win a $100 Spaghetti Warehouse gift card by uploading a photo of Mom and explaining what makes her so special.
6 p.m.: Free dinner. Beef O' Brady's. the family sports pub chain, is offering a free meal — up to $10 in value — for Mom, with purchase of another meal of equal or greater value.
7 p.m.: Free frozen yogurt. Participating locations of Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt is offering free 8-oz. cups of frozen yogurt to all moms.
8 p.m.: Free Mexican dinner. Tijuana Flats, the Tex-Mex chain, is offering a free entree to all moms at participating locations. But you need to show the offer posted on its Facebook page to redeem.