Free Wings for a Year

Hudsons Tap HouseOld news for some of you, I know, but I feel the need to write my story and voice my complaint.

I spent last Wednesday afternoon, from 3:30 pm until almost 7:30 pm, in line outside Hudsons Tap House waiting to be one of the first 200 people into the restaurant at 6:30 pm, thereby winning a weekly order of chicken wings for the next year. I was about 50th in line and handily won my 52 free orders of chicken wings.

While standing in line for several hours with a number of strangers, we got to talking. And I’ve since had similar conversations with numerous people, partly to justify the silliness of standing in line, in the cold, for hours, for wings. We generally figured that the promotion was a very small outlay of cash (the event was advertised as a $100,000 wing giveaway) for extra staff and advertising and stood to make it’s money back within a very short timeframe.

Obviously, an order of chicken wings doesn’t actually cost the company $11.50. And I’m probably going to order a couple of beers, which don’t actually cost $6.75. And I’ll probably bring friends, few of whom will be getting anything free. Add to that the free advertising to the commuters who passed a line of 200 people outside a new restaurant, generating significant buzz.

All in all, a good deal. And a good deal for me—almost $600 in free wings. My complaint is: Why don’t more places do this? It’s not like the contest actually cost $100,000. Even so, it’s spread out over the year, barely $10,000 in lost chicken wing revenue per month. I’ve known at least one other restaurant/bar to open within the last few months with absolutely no fanfare. Why? Don’t the owners want people to know? Don’t they want new customers? Do they hope for word-of-mouth advertising? How do you generate word-of-mouth advertising if you just hope people show up?

Update: The wings that I had were good, but a little inconsistent, which I wrote off to inexperienced staff. I had the Sweet Chili wings; they were good, sweet and not too spicy. My friend had Forty Creek Whiskey BBQ and said they were really good. I then ordered the Not Really Hot, which turned out to be very hot, hotter than I expected, and hotter than I would have imagined Not Really Hot and Hot should be. Hopefully, just a cook who went a little over on the sauce.