My husband’s reaction to my 2009 restaurant vow was a little less … shall we say, gung-ho? Not from a dining point of view — if you saw a photo of us together, you’d know instantly which one of us licks his plate — but the dollar calculator that went off in his analytical brain after reading my post gave him the squirms.
(We won’t mention the fact that on those occasions when I do suggest we eat at home, he usually nixes it. Perception rarely trumps reality in our family.)
But to calm his financial fears, I promised we’d max out our coupons this year. We actually make a pact to do this every year, and I have the Entertainment Books and Zoobooks to prove it. Only in 2009, we mean it. I swear.
So when we jumped in the car the other night and he asked, “Where to?” I didn’t want to confess I’d once again left the coupon book on my desk. I blurted out the first thing that flitted through my brain: Steak n Shake. This way, if I was wrong about the 4 under $4 meal special on the sign, I was at least fortified with the world’s best milkshake to defend myself.
Happily, I was right. They are selling their single steakburger with cheese and bacon, double steakburger, double steakburger with cheese or chicken fingers and fries platters for $3.99 each. OK, so a normal platter gets a second side. I don’t really need a few spoonfuls of canned vegetable soup or a plop of cottage cheese when I those heavenly skinny fries are coming my way anyhow.
And there was even better news when we hit the booth: Every Monday through Friday from 2 -4 p.m. is happy hour: all shakes and drinks are half price. Whoohoo! A chocolate/banana side by side … no wait, the M&M‘s milkshake … or the turtle carmel nut sippable sundae for what other restaurants charge me for a Coke. I’ll be the afternoon drinker running a tab at the counter.
Back in October, Steak n Shake’s chairman of the board, Sardar Biglari, put out a statement that said, in part, “Our present shift in objective is significant, even mandatory, because prior management instilled throughout the organization the concept that it was necessary to escalate earnings per share even at the expense of lessening cash flows. Needless to say, our financial mantra is to maximize free cash flow and return on invested capital.”
I think that’s VIP speak for “We intend to survive the recession by offering people what they can afford without leaving them hungry.” They aren’t celebrating their 75th year in the restaurant business for nothing — and I’m off the hook this week on that coupon thing.