There's no such thing as a free lunch, as the saying goes. That definitely holds true for the many restaurants surrounding TCU's campus, especially on Go Purple Friday. Based on my findings, the event should advertise with "Wear purple and get discounted food or an insignificant amount of free food. Also you may need a car".
Go Purple Friday, an all-day event during football season where participating restaurants give discounts or free entrees to customers who are wearing purple, is a popular event with TCU students. Perhaps the most popular restaurant is Chick-fil-A, where anyone wearing purple will get a free sandwich or a free eight count of nuggets.
Inspired by the notion that I could get free food just for walking into a restaurant while wearing my school's colors, I set out last Friday to see just how much free food my purple polo could earn me. The only rule I set for myself was that I could only eat whatever free food was offered- no "buy one, get 10 percent off" deals. Everything I ate for lunch would have to be free.
The results surprised me. I didn't get anywhere near a full meal, and it definitely wasn't within walking distance.
After going to almost every single restaurant on West Berry and University Street, the only free food I could get was a free cookie from McAlister's. I had to drive to the Chick-fil-A on West 7th just to get an entree, where I got a chicken sandwich.
It surprised me how many restaurants didn't give out free food on Fridays, given Chick-fil-A's success with their promotion. Chick-fil-A and McAlister's seemed to have more customers during the lunch hours than others did. The line at Chick-fil-A stretched all the way to the back of the restaurant, as it did at McAlister's.
"We get a lot more traffic on Fridays," McAlister's cashier Lauren Jackson said.
At Chick-fil-A, it also looked like other customers were buying more food to go with their free sandwich.
"I go to Chick-fil-A [on Go Purple Fridays] at least once a month, and I typically buy an extra sandwich and a strawberry milkshake to go with it," junior Spanish major Tyler Hoff said.
The other restaurants I went to – Dutch's, Buffalo Bros., Red Cactus, Smoothie King, Fuzzy's Taco Shop, Topper's Pizza, Cafe Brazil, Frogberry, Perrotti's Piizza and Which Wich – all offered some sort of discount, just not free food.
The reasons for this varied from restaurant to restaurant. Fuzzy's Taco Shop doesn't offer free food because they already offer enough specials as it is, according to cashier Eric Orona. Perrotti's offers a free beer promotion, so they can't afford to give away free food. Some managers, such as Cafe Brazil's Cleo Norris, have never even heard of Go Purple Fridays.
"I've never heard of it, but that's something we could easily do," Norris said.
Lesson learned: just pay for it if you're looking for a full meal on Go Purple Friday.
Restaurants that participate in Go Purple Friday are:
- Baker St. Pub & Grill
- BoomerJack’s Grill & Bar
- Buffalo Bros Pizza, Wings & Subs
- Johnny Carino’s Italian
- Chick-fil-A (West 7th Street and Hulen)
- Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que
- Freebirds World Burrito
- Hoffbrau Steaks
- Ol’ South Pancake House
- Paciugo Gelato & Cafe
- Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen
- Pappas Burgers
- Pappasito’s Cantina
- Rock Bottom Bar and Grill
- Sassy Hot Dogs
- Silver Fox Steakhouse
- Simply Fondue Fort Worth
- Texas Roadhouse
- The Tavern Bar & Grill
- YO! Frozen Yogurt Lounge
- Yofé Fresh Fruit & Yogurt Café