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Can restaurants take the sting out of Tax Day with special deals?

U.S. restaurateurs are no doubt hoping that taxpayers in line for a refund from Uncle Sam this year will consider spending at least part of their checks on dining out.  Meanwhile, many independent eateries and chains aren’t waiting around for consumers to cash their checks – they aim to bring in business this weekend with Tax Day specials, promotions and giveaways that for many have become traditions. This year, restaurants are offering deals ranging from a percentage off the tab to free fries to a cut-price tax-themed cocktail.

Some restaurant chains are using social media as a part of their Tax Day deals, including Arby’s, which in keeping with the paperwork-intensive nature of the season, requires customers to visit the chain’s Facebook page to print out a coupon to get their free Tax Day curly fries. Chili’s is taking a similar approach, spreading the word about free appetizers and desserts via a social media campaign and sending people to the chain’s website to download coupons to redeem the freebies, which come with the purchase of an entrée on Monday. And Bruegger’s is selling bundles of 13 bagels plus two tubs of cream cheese for $10.40 from today through Monday, to patrons who print out coupons from Facebook. McCormick & Schmick’s is also playing off the 1040 theme, handing out $10.40 discount coupons today and special entrees and bar deals for $10.40 on Monday.

P.F. Chang’s has taken more of an E-Z file approach to its promotion, offering a 15% discount on Monday, not including happy hour meals and bar tabs.  And Cinnabon is offering two free Cinnabon Bites to everyone who stops in between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Monday, while also using social media for a separate contest to award a $100 gift card to the Twitter user who best conveys in 140 characters or less a story of how Cinnabon came to their rescue on a bad day.

While most of the Tax Day deals revolve around food, a few eateries are acknowledging that Tax Day is less a celebratory holiday and more a day to take a deep breath and lighten up after completing an onerous annual chore – perhaps with a cocktail.

At Texas de Brazil restaurants around the country, patrons can enjoy a $7 Tax-tini all month, along with a special happy hour menu. Also in Chicago, restaurateur Phil Stefani’s tax day cocktail promotions come with some sage advice for procrastinators – if you can’t get your returns mailed by Monday, at least file for an extension to avoid late-filing penalties, he writes on his “Back of the House” blog, which also advertises two martinis for $10.99 all day at Riva Crabhouse and Tuscany Café.

Are Tax Day deals a tradition at your restaurant? Tell us about it in the comments.