Consumer Watch: Restaurants attract customers with dinner deals

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) -- As the economy continues to quake, the financial fault lines stretch from Wall Street to Main Street.

Money is tight, and that means people are spending more on bills and less at places like restaurants.

"Things are different, and I like to save what I can wherever I can," said Richard Talley of Montgomery.

There's a lot of restaurants in the area closing down.   A lot of businesses," said Emily Minar, manager at Country's Barbecue on Zelda Road.

Eateries, however, aren't taking the slump sitting down.  Though some shops have closed because of financial stress, others are chopping prices and adding deals to attract the newly price-savvy clientele.

"Really, we're just trying to accommodate the economy right now.  We've got a lot of specials going on: campaign items, happy hour, things of that nature, trying to help people with bargains so it'll bring them in.  It keeps them coming in," said Luther Johnson, general manager of Applebee's.

For the most part, deals like Applebee's "2 for $20" or Ruby Tuesday's "Buy One, Get One" specials, for example, are working.

Residents use the price relief as an extra chance to eat out and enjoy a meal worry-free.

"Everything is going up.  [. . .] If you can eat and still put gas in your car, you're good," said Demitrius Wilburn of Montgomery.

Plus, the perks of a dinner deal helps sell more food in the long run.

"[Customers will sometimes add] shrimp to a meal or dessert to a check, [or purchase] gift cards, so it gives them room to buy and expand their options within the restaurant," Johnson explained.