After returning home from Ruby Tuesday’s, I can’t seem to shake from my head the words of a manager walking by our table. “Do you want more fries?” she offers, “They’re free refills!” As I politely declined, I became increasingly disturbed by this offer. The offer of a never-ending supply of french fries, while obesity is ravaging the country, just seems irresponsible and downright wrong. But being the ultimate Libra, I am constantly weighing both sides of the story, and this situation continues to tip both sides of my scales.
I wonder what percentage of guests who indulge in a 1000 calorie plus burger partake in the fries refill? I don’t believe that RT keeps statistics on this, but if I had to take a guess, I would say not that many. That would make ‘endless fries’ just a smart marketing ploy. RT ‘handcrafts’ an overtly generous restaurant persona, while not actually dishing out too many extra fries.
Feeding an Addiction?
As of this very moment, I am leaning towards this side of the argument. As mentioned above, each of RT burger selections are well over 1000 calories–not including the first side of fries. If someone is ordering a burger that accounts for at least 50% or more of their daily caloric needs, it seems irresponsible to be offering up an endless opportunity to consume even more calories . RT attempts to make up for this irresponsibility with an extensive online Menu Guide. This guide is comprehensive, and in addition to calorie counts, gives readers recommendations for food allergy concerns. After reading through this guide, I stumbled upon a section of the menu called ‘Smart Eating Choices’. I cannot say with absolute certainty, but I do not remember seeing that section on the restaurant menu I just used. This could mean 2 things: 1) it wasn’t there, or 2) it is not visible enough.
Applebee’s newest campaign is their under 550 calorie menu. Commercials are in high rotation, promoting this new menu as not just being a smart choice for those trying to lose weight, but a smart choice for everyone (even manly men out with their manly friends as in the commercial). This campaign, from my perspective, gives Applebee’s a persona of a restaurant that acknowledges its responsibility to society and directly cares about their guests health.
Quizno’s recently published their sandwich’s calorie counts right on the store menu for all to see while ordering. Now that is responsible. They are basically saying, here is the information: 1) make a good, informed decision, 2) make a bad, but still informed decision, or 3) go somewhere else.
Don’t get me wrong here–I like Ruby Tuesday’s. I actually like them more now that I have found their Menu Guide and can see that they do in fact have healthy options. I will utilize the guide, but I feel it is pretty safe to say I am the minority.
In comparing the recent actions of Applebee’s and Quizno’s, I think I have reached an opinion on the ‘endless fries’ debate that is raging in my brain. Give customers the information they need to make an informed decision. Calorie counts should be posted on the menu for all to see while deciding what to put into their bodies–especially when there is a potentially dangerous offer such as ‘endless fries’. Restaurants have a responsibility to improve the health of society because they are a large part of the problem.
I applaud Applebee’s, Quizno’s, and other establishments who have taken this responsibility seriously. I sincerely hope Ruby Tuesday’s takes that direction in their future campaigns as well–or at least maybe start offering ‘endless broccoli’.