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America's favorite restaurants serve up Valentine's Day deals

Heidi Chung

Valentine’s Day is here, and that means some restaurants are getting creative with their promotions for the day.

Italian family-restaurant chain Olive Garden is making it easy to gift a bouquet of its popular breadsticks this year. With a purchase of its three-course Valentine’s Day ToGo Dinner for Two, diners will be able to pick up a free breadstick bouquet wrapper and mint box in stores while supplies last to supplement the dinner spread. The special costs $34.99.

Courtesy of Red Lobster

Meanwhile, fans of the Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits will be able to give them to loved ones this Valentine’s Day by placing an order to-go on its website. Just place an order for at least half a dozen biscuits and pay an extra $1 for the heart-shaped box, while supplies last. The biscuits can either be picked up in-store or delivered for an additional fee.

Special Valentine’s Day promotions don’t just stop with Olive Garden or Red Lobster, fast food chains like Qdoba, Einstein Bros. Bagels and Chick-fil-A are also offering “sweet” promotions.

For a limited time at Chick-fil-A, you can purchase the 30-count nuggets, 10-count Chick-n-Minis or 6-count Chocolate Chunk Cookies in a heart-shaped container. The promotion lasts until Feb. 29 or while supplies last.

Gimmick or boost to sales?

Some argue that these promotions are just gimmicks, but if the chicken sandwich wars of 2019 were any indication, social media impressions can sometimes translate into meaningful sales boosts. Darden Restaurants-owned Olive Garden had been successful at leveraging strategic promotions to drive traffic and sales until the past two quarters.

In December, Darden (DRI) reported same-store sales at Olive Garden missed Wall Street estimates for the second straight quarter. Olive Garden was the bright spot among Darden’s brands, but shares rose a modest 12% over the past twelve months and have been underperforming the broader market’s 25% gain in the same time period.

Nevertheless, Darden’s management said in December that the company’s promotional pipeline continues to be strong. Perhaps, Valentine’s Day breadstick bouquets could be the answer.

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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