Now that the feast-heavy holidays are over and Old Man Winter has arrived over much of the country, restaurants will use special promotions, gift cards, and even a reduction in customers’ taxes to help heat up first-quarter sales. The quarter, which typically stretches from Jan. 1 to March 31, has long been considered a tricky period for restaurants given the lack of major holidays and the cold weather that makes potential diners stay home. “Traditionally, January and February ...

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