Summertime Dining Deals

August 12, 2022 at 6:55 p.m.
Summertime Dining Deals
Summertime Dining Deals

By Sharyn Lonsdale

It’s summer and the dining is easy, well easier. We all know that staffing is a problem and prices have gone up due to the high cost of goods and services, but it’s easier to snag a seat at your favorite restaurant right now, and this is the season when you’ll find the best dining deals.
The Englewood Florida Chamber of Commerce’s popular restaurant promotion “Let’s Eat! Englewood” lures diners to restaurants with price-fixed lunch and dinner specials at many of the area’s most popular Chamber-member restaurants. This year’s campaign takes place from September 15-29, with several restaurants likely to continue their Let’s Eat menu through October.
The good news is many restaurants don’t wait for “Let’s Eat!” to offer incentives this time of year. “We love our locals and appreciate the support from the community,” said Owner Ryan Wall at long-time Englewood favorite Ricaltini’s Bar and Grille. Here you’ll find one of the longest happy hours in the area, 11:30 am to 6 pm, every weekday, daily specials and an extensive $8.99 lunch menu. Ricaltini’s Bar and Grille, 1997 Kentucky Ave., 941-828-1591
Like going out mid-week? Cape Haze Tavern is making a major effort to bring customers in this summer, including a recently-launched Tuesday through Thursday Happy Hour as well as a dinner special of two entrees and a shared dessert for $45. “Our new chef, John Ellis, has created an amazing menu that he is changing up weekly to keep people excited about coming in,” said Nikki Pecora of Cape Haze Tavern. There’s also a new Sunday Brunch featuring $20 bottomless Mimosas. Cape Haze Tavern, 3745 Cape Haze Drive, 941-830-8946
Dan Klein, owner of Culture Coffee, is making Friday nights special with an open mic night from 5 to 8 pm. “This is a true local event and all mediums, music, poetry, comedy, etc. are encouraged to join us,” said Klein. To make things more festive, Culture Coffee is now offering beer and wine, an expanded menu and new ice cream flavors.  Culture Coffee, 405 W. Dearborn St., 941-460-8542
What’s better than a discount?  Marie Bronson, owner of Swirls-N-Curls, says during weekends in August, as students head back to school, staff will randomly choose kids in line at the take-out window to get a free ice cream cone. And in what might be the most unusual local perk, all dogs will get free ice cream treats.  Swirls-N-Curls, 6945 Sunnybrook Blvd., Englewood, 941-460-3805
Where to Find the Best Dining Deals Year-Round
In the  Mail - Mixed in with bills and cellphone deals are mailers with dining and business coupons that are usually good for about one month. Stash them in your car where you can see them. Hey, $5 off is $5 off. - It’s the coupons you get in the mail, but online. Most recently there were dollars-off deals at Artur’s Restaurant, the End Zone and Paraiso Mexican Grille, as well as for restaurants in Port Charlotte and Venice. There are also limited-time deeper discounts. I got $30 worth of credit to Shuck-N-Ale in Venice for $11.35 with an additional first-time buyer discount. and - Great for local dining and recreation and when you’re on the road. Create an account then search for the  area you’re interested in. Both sites offer “deals on deals” so watch for those emails. You may also find offers for 10% off or more that do not require a purchase. Important: Always take note of the expiration date. If you purchase and don’t use your voucher/Groupon by the expiration date, you lose the bonus, but can still use the initial amount for at least a year.
Facebook and Instagram - Like and follow your favorite places on social media and you’ll be the first to hear about special deals and offers. Just keep checking in and also be sure to check Facebook events.
Email Sign-up - 
Want to try a new restaurant? Sign up to receive their emails and you will probably receive a coupon as well as special offers throughout the year. Chain restaurants are especially generous with the freebies.
Mobile Apps - I haven’t paid more than $1 for my biggest weakness, McDonald’s French fries, since I started using the McDonald’s app, plus I save time by ordering ahead. And the Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts apps are heaven for coffee drinkers.
Birthday Deals - I just had a birthday and was rewarded with a free beverage from Starbucks, a sub from Firehouse Subs, breakfast from Perkins, popcorn from AMC and several other offers I wasn’t able to take advantage of. To ensure you’re not missing any deals, just search for “birthday” in your email during your birthday month.
Credit Card Perks -  Many credit cards offer cash back or airline miles when you dine at partner restaurants. These offers should show up in your email or with your statement.
Memberships and More - Whether you’re a member of AAA or AARP, a student, teacher or first responder, you are eligible for discounts at many restaurants. Just do your homework before you go as employees aren’t always aware of the discounts.

The author reached out to restaurants in our area on her Facebook page, The Real Englewood Area Dish, and on the Englewood Review page. The Englewood-area restaurants who responded are featured in this column.