While Father’s Day does not spike traffic the way Mother’s Day does, it will once again be an important Sunday for the restaurant industry this year, not just as an occasion to attract families and large groups, but also as an opportunity to push gift cards.

Several studies show robust activities planned for Father’s Day on June 16. The National Retail Federation, for instance, is forecasting a 2.3-percent rise in average per-person spending for the holiday this year at $119.84, compared with $117.14 spent per person on average in 2012. The NRF projects total Father’s Day spending this year to be about $13.3 billion.


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Market research firm IBISWorld is forecasting a 2.1-percent gain in total Father’s Day spending to $13.2 billion this year.

The NRF added that special outings, like a restaurant meal or sporting event, would account for $2.5 billion of that spending on Sunday. Its report also found that many consumers plan to use Father’s Day as an occasion to celebrate other men in their lives, with more than half of those surveyed indicating they would buy gifts for their fathers, as well as 29 percent for husbands, 10 percent for sons, 5 percent for grandfathers and 6 percent for brothers.

Chicago-based market research firm Technomic Inc. found that 40 percent of consumers surveyed said they would go out to eat for Father’s Day, compared with slightly more than 50 percent this year for Mother’s Day.

Technomic added that the trend of dining out for Father’s Day is projected to be more pronounced in the Hispanic community, as 56 percent of those consumers surveyed said they plan to celebrate the holiday at a restaurant.

Giveaways, gift cards rule the day

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Restaurant chains continue to use traditional giveaways and gift card promotions to drive Father’s Day traffic.

Pizza Inn, for example, is executing a comprehensive giveaway tied to its “Get Cheesy with Dad” contest on Facebook. The nearly 300-unit The Colony, Texas-based chain has put several photos of its mascot JoJo doing “cheesy dad things,” like tying a bow tie and taking pictures while wearing a fanny pack, on its Facebook page, and invited fans to provide captions. Participants are rewarded with a digital coupon for their next visit and are entered into a sweepstakes that offers one winner free pizza for a year.

Pizza Inn also partnered with Coupons.com to offer “Dine with Dad” deals of two dinner buffets or two one-topping medium pizzas for $12.

Jacksonville, Fla.-based The Loop Pizza Grill is offering a more straightforward giveaway at its 14 locations in Florida and North Carolina. Fathers will be treated to a free meal when a family member purchases another meal at full price.

Shoney's Hot Fudge Cake is free to any father with the purchase of an entrée on Sunday.Nashville, Tenn.-based Shoney’s will offer its signature Hot Fudge Cake free to any father with the purchase of an entrée on Sunday. The more than 170-unit chain sells more than 2 million Hot Fudge Cakes every year, chief executive David Davoudpour noted in a statement.

Fazoli’s, a 200-plus-unit quick-service chain, has gotten a bit more creative with its giveaway. The chain is letting kids create art projects for Father’s Day, and Dad can redeem the crafts for a discount on June 16.

All week, Lexington, Ky.-based Fazoli’s has distributed flyers through direct mail and local-store marketing channels that contain “Supremo Dad Trading Cards,” which kids can color and personalize as a gift for their fathers.

Dads can bring the trading cards to Fazoli’s to receive a $1 Supremo Meal Deal with the purchase of a drink. The Supremo Meal Deal, which was introduced earlier this month for $4.99, includes fettuccine Alfredo, spaghetti marinara and two meat-filled toasted ravioli, with the choice of sautéed broccoli or a slice of pepperoni pizza.

Other chains have seized the opportunity to tie Father’s Day to graduation season.

Hooters, operator or franchisor of more than 410 casual-dining “breastaurants,” is combining a Father’s Day giveaway and a gift card push that it is marketing for fathers or grads. On Father’s Day, dads can get 10 free chicken wings with the purchase of 10 wings. The Atlanta-based brand also is offering a bonus $5 gift card with the purchase of a $25 gift card.

Denver-based Qdoba Mexican Grill is also attempting to serve both Father’s Day and graduations with its “A Gift for Them and Food for You” promotion. Guests who purchase a $30 Q-Cash gift card for a dad or grad will be treated to a coupon for a free entrée. The promotion runs through June 30 at more than 600 participating Qdoba locations, and the coupons are redeemable through July.

Father's Day fundraising

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Wendy’s takes a different approach to Father’s Day by furthering its cause-marketing and fundraising efforts.

Wendy’s has made this coming weekend its Father’s Day Frosty Weekend, with 50 cents from the purchase of every Frosty or new Frosty Waffle Cone to be donated to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, which places foster children with permanent adoptive parents.

The Dublin, Ohio-based chain of more than 6,500 restaurants has run this promotion the past six Father’s Days, raising $1.5 million last year. Wendy’s goal is to raise $1.7 million this year.

At Hooters on Father’s Day, dads can get 10 free chicken wings with the purchase of 10 wings.“Nothing was more important to my dad than family, and that’s why he started the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption,” said Wendy Thomas, daughter of the chain’s founder Dave Thomas, who was raised by adopted parents. “I can think of no better way of honoring fathers everywhere, and my dad’s legacy, than to raise a Frosty cone or cup and help another child find their forever father.”

Wendy’s is tying in the cause-marketing promotion with social media this year, pledging to donate $1 to the foundation every time a fan shares his or her “first Frosty” memory on Facebook or Twitter with the #FirstFrosty hash tag. All participants will be eligible to win a random drawing for Wendy’s gift cards.

Contact Mark Brandau at mark.brandau@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN