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Friday, January 28, 2022

Restaurants offer free food to attract new students

With new students comes new marketing opportunities for Gainesville businesses.

In the past month, local restaurants like The Coop, Know Where Coffee, Jimmy John’s and Subway have offered free food and drinks to students, and Blaze Pizza, at 3617 Archer Road, is jumping on the bandwagon today.

The restaurant will be giving out free 11-inch pizzas to UF students from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.

"It’s a good opportunity to welcome (students) into the store," said Rachel Bledsoe, media representative for Blaze Pizza.

In marketing, it’s important to let people know the business exists, wrote Steven Kirn, UF executive director of the Center for Retailing Education and Research, in an email.

"Especially at the start of a new Fall semester, there are many new students on campus, and it’s important to establish your business as a good choice early," Kirn said.

Last Wednesday, The Coop on University Avenue gave away chicken tenders and sweet tea.

After trying more traditional marketing techniques, such as mailbox stuffers and other fliers, the restaurant found free sampling was the best way to reach new students, said Darren Kay, The Coop’s owner and manager.

"People tend to tune out fliers, but we thought, ‘Hey, college students don’t turn down free food,’" Kay said.

The cost of the free samples is about the same or cheaper than other marketing options and is more effective, he said.

Christina Magrini said she is excited to go to Blaze Pizza.

"(The businesses) entice you to come and experience different places," the 18-year-old architecture freshman said, "and you don’t have to pay for it."

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Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter @journo_bre

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