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Tampa’s Metro Diner invents a food holiday to push its signature dish

Metro Diner’s fried chicken and waffles is topped with house-made strawberry butter and signature sweet and spicy syrup.

Crafton Bryant remembers the first time he tasted Metro Diner’s fried chicken and waffles.

It was mid-2016, and Bryant, seated in the newly opened St. Petersburg restaurant, had just accepted the marketing director position at Metro Diner. (The rapidly growing Tampa-based restaurant chain had 12 locations when Bryant joined two years ago; it’s on track to have 85 by the end of 2018.)

“It brought me back to my childhood and my grandmother’s fried chicken,” Bryant said.

There is no shortage of people who have since had that first-bite experience of the fried chicken and waffles; Metro Diner has served 268,000 orders so far in 2018, making it one of the restaurant’s most popular offerings. But Bryant wants to bring that even more people, so he invented a food holiday: National Chicken and Waffle Day, which Metro Diner will celebrate on Wednesday.

The $15.99 dish — which comes with half a fried chicken, a Belgian waffle, strawberry butter and a “sweet and spicy sauce,” a mix of maple syrup and Louisiana hot sauce — will be discounted to $9.99.

Bryant would like to see sales increase anywhere from 50 percent to 75 percent. A typical Wednesday means 900 orders of fried chicken and waffles; ideally, Bryant said, he’d like to see anywhere from 1,400 to 1,500 orders sold on the holiday.

Food holidays, of course, are nothing new; there are days devoted to everything from chips and dip to Quiche Lorraine. Metro Diner’s sales push isn’t even the first attempt at National Chicken and Waffle Day — in 2015, San Francisco’s now-closed Soul Groove tried a similar promotion.

Bryant said he raised the idea internally for the first time earlier this year.

“The first time I brought that up in our team meeting, there were some good laughs,” he said. “And the more we talked about it, it was, ‘Yes, why would we not do this?’ The amount of praise we get for that dish is unbelievable.”

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Source: Article by Ashley Gurbal Kritzer, published on the Tampa Bay Business Journal (bizjournals.com).

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