This evening's outing was almost entirely motivated by a soon-to-expire $4 gift card from Ruby Tuesday. About a year and a half ago, I wrote that mid-priced casual-dining restaurants are middle class luxuries and would be among the first things to be cut when middle class families are squeezed by rising costs, stagnant wages, and falling home equity. It happened again recently. This restaurant sector took a hit in the economic downturn of the past quarter. To get customers to come in, they've started sending out sweeter and sweeter deals. Hence, the Ruby Tuesday gift card I got in the mail. I'd been carrying that card around for the last two months waiting for a geocaching event or something when I'd go to Ruby Tuesday anyway but such an occasion never arose. Since it'd be expiring soon and since I like the salad bar, I decided to use it this evening.
The Ruby Tuesday I picked was at Garden State Plaza (I'm glad they don't call it "Westfield Shoppingtown" any more) in Paramus. I'm so out of touch. I hadn't been to this mall in quite a while so I was surprised to see the mall sporting an entirely new wing! There's a movie theater in that new wing and Borders bookstore has moved slightly so that it is in the new wing. There's also a fancy cafe to which I probably won't go because all the entrees are over $15. The downside to the new wing is it took away about half the parking lot that I usually use. So it was a tad harder to find a parking space, although I think this mall has always been congested, even on weekday nights. After paying a bill at the Sprint store and exploring the mall a little, I headed over to Ruby Tuesday.
I intended to have the salad bar as an entree but I noticed in the menu that for just one dollar more, I could have Ruby Minis and fries with the salad bar. It's a bit of an upsell but it was worth getting as the little burgers were not bad at all. Then I also took a few trips to the salad bar. I also used one of the eight wi-fi networks in the mall and so dinner took about two hours, but the restaurant was more than half empty (economic downturn, remember?) so I figured they wouldn't mind too much. I thought Ruby Tuesday's pricing for the mini burgers and salad bar combo was not excessive. I'd certainly go again if they send more coupons. Maybe I'll eventually figure out all the junk they have on their walls. :)