High gas prices and slumping confidence in the economy aren’t keeping all consumers from splurging to celebrate life’s special events, and that’s causing many independent and chain operators to focus their marketing efforts on private parties, banquets and catering.Even as consumers embattled by the economic slowdown cut back on everyday dining out, many refuse to halt expenditures for special occasions, such as birthdays, anniversaries and graduations. And businesses, such as pharmaceutical ...

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