Tequila and sympathy: Bars offer foreclosure specials

Padre's Modern Mexican is turning the downturn into a marketing opportunity: Bring in a foreclosure notice, get a free drink.

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From Padre's "free drink with foreclosure notice" special in Phoenix to NYC's famed Gray's Papaya $3.50 Recession Special, these restaurants and bars are profiting from penny-pinching specials.

(Fortune Small Business) -- Are some of your customers worried about losing their homes? Take a tip from Cole Durbin, owner of Padre's Modern Mexican in Phoenix, and let them know that you're on their side.

Like restaurants across the country - from Table 8 in Los Angeles to Liberty Bar in Hoboken, N.J. - Durbin is offering up a Recession Happy Hour. But he has added a twist: Anyone who arrives at Padre's with a foreclosure notice can have any drink on the menu.

"I have no problem giving them anything they want," says Durbin, 27.

Nobody had taken him up on his offer through its first six weeks. But Arizona ranks third on RealtyTrac's list of leading foreclosure states, so worry abounds.

And worry is historically good for the bar business. Durbin's happy-hour sales are booming, up 22% in the past two months, which Durbin says has kept the restaurant's earnings even with 2007's despite the cost of rice having skyrocketed 56% between March and May.

Padre's isn't done yet. It plans to roll out new promotions throughout the summer. Up next: free rides to and from the restaurant on Saturday nights for those who might be deterred by $4 gasoline. To top of page

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