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Friday, September 29, 2023

The summer heat has arrived. Students have fled the city, and the midtown business drought is on.

During the fall and spring semesters, Tijuana Flats, located on University Avenue, normally makes $20,000 a month, said manager Nick Roland. When summer rolls around, the number plummets to $1,000.

Since the restaurant is not open late, it doesn't draw business from the bar scene, Roland said. So, during these months, the business leans on its promotional tools: Taco Tuesdays, buy-one-get-one-free specials, an online newsletter and discounts for faculty and public servants.

The Italian Gator, a small pizza stand just down the road, has been utilizing a new strategy to stop the summer bleeding - lots of free stuff.

The restaurant has started using tools like Groupon to try to lure customers to its service window, said general manager Damon Bailey.

By doing so, he said, the restaurant is avoiding the same fate as its neighbors.

They have also introduced a VIP Lunch Club Card, valid Monday through Friday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., which offers a free soda or bottled water with the purchase of two slices of pizza.

"It's taken a bit of time for the steam to build up," said Bailey, "but it's been pretty good - a really big relief."

Even a larger entity like Miller Lite is trying to find ways to boost sales during the slow season.

One way Miller Lite has tried to generate business is by creating a Taste Points system. Points are given out in bars or printed on cases of Miller Lite. Customers can redeem prizes online with a certain number of points.

The company has also tried to promote sales by transforming its promotional models into "Liteguards" by having them wear company-branded bathing suits and whistles out to the bars.

One such model, Nicole Vonderhaar, said the Liteguards have been a hit with bar-goers.

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"People will get all excited and say things like ‘Are you guys real life guards? Because I think I need saving,'" she said.

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