Grab your bracket and order up the chow, because it's March Madness and time for tournament-related restaurant deals.
The annual hoopla surrounding the NCAA men’s basketball tournament may be a well-publicized drain on workplace productivity, but the millions of restaurant employees ready to work overtime says basketball is about more than hoops.
Quick-service and casual-dining chains across the country are courting basketball fans aggressively with March Madness deals.
We've found seven specials offered by major restaurant chains. As always, call ahead to make sure your local franchise.
1. T.G.I. Friday’s
TGI's "Hoops Madness" deal includes half-price boneless buffalo wings for those in the bar during parties. The offer is good for March 18-21, March 25-28, and April 3 and 5.
2. Fleming’s Steakhouse
Taking off on specialty food store Trader Joe's wine of the same name, Fleming's Steakhouse is offering a “Two Buck Chuck” menu of prime chuck sliders served with your choice of Swiss and peppered bacon, smoked Wisconsin cheddar or Tabasco onions. The $2 slider menu was created specifically for March Madness and is available after 7 p.m. March 25 to 28 at all Fleming’s locations.
3. Claim Jumper
Claim Jumper Restaurants are offering beer specials of $5 pitchers and $2 schooners, good March 25-28, and April 3 and 5.
4. Pizza Hut
Pizza is a sport's staple, which is why Pizza Hut is jumping on the bandwagon with $10 large pizzas throughout the NCAA series. The Hut also is offering free pizza to the entire faculty, staff and students of the bottom-seeded team that beats a number-one seed. Since a bottom seed has never beaten a top seed, Pizza Hut has a good chance of not coughing up to a Cinderella team.
5. Papa John's
The $10 Buzzer Beater is good on all large pizzas with the toppings of your choice. They also are offering a HOOPS Sweepstakes, where their Papa John's Facebook fans can sign up for a chance to win pizza for a year, a 12-pack of Coke Zero, or $20,000 and both the other two prizes.
Check out a YouTube video of Papa John sinking a half-court shot. In celebration of this major accomplishment, the pizza privateer gave free pizzas to 18,868 fans watching him drain a shot from mid-court during halftime at a University of Louisville game.
6. Ruby Tuesday
During March Madness, the casual-dining chain of more than 800 restaurants, is offering $2 off appetizers and $5 cocktails on game days for people sitting at the bar. In addition, the chain restaurant is promoting its own bracket, with their Million Dollar Bracket Challenge, in which you sign up for a chance to win $1 million if you pick all the games correctly.
7. Not a Food Special But Fun
WhereTheLocalsEat.com has created a foodie version of March Madness in which it has matched up 64 food choices to face off in what they’re calling the Food Fight Bracket Challenge. Participants customize a bracket with their personal food preferences and, when the most popular champion food in America is crowned on March 31, the participant with the most bracket points will receive an Apple iPad. Check it out between games.