Three California-based restaurant chains--Denny's, Lawry's and Carl's Jr.--are just some of the many food outlets offering attractive discounts and deals for the mature traveler.
Denny's, with more than 1,100 restaurants nationwide (plus others in Canada, Mexico, Europe and Australia), is easily the largest of the trio.
Although Denny's does not offer a discount per se, the chain does provide significant savings for the mature traveler 55 and older.
It serves 11 specially priced complete meals, plus another daily special. They range from $3.09 (chicken-fried steak, roast turkey and fried chicken, for example) to a top of $4.49. All include a soup or salad, normally $1.45 extra. In addition, four low-priced breakfast specials are served all day. Five of the senior specials are also prepared to meet recommendations of the American Heart Assn.
"Though we've catered to mature travelers for more than three years," says Joe Herrara, Denny's marketing director, "we've only had the senior specials since last October. They have been a great success.
"We know mature travelers make up more than one-third of our market, so we will continue to make a sincere effort to appeal to them, both as individual on-the-spot highway vacationers and in tour groups."
Denny's does not require a membership card, nor must one belong to a national seniors association. Proof of age is rarely required.
The La Mirada, Calif.-based chain evaluates its senior menu every six months, dropping items that have a low request and replacing them with other entrees. Top choices right now are the chicken-fried steak and Hawaiian-grilled fish.
Lawry's, the famed prime rib institution on La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Hills, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a "Prime of Your Life" club for diners 55 and older.
Club members and guests accompanying them receive a 10% discount on the restaurant's prime rib dinners. The offer is also in effect at other Lawry's in Chicago and Dallas.
The small catch is that the meals must be bought Monday through Thursday between 5 and 6 p.m. On the other hand, members of "Prime of Your Life" who buy nine meals get the 10th one free.
For information and an application, stop in at the restaurant at 55 N. La Cienega Blvd. or call (213) 652-2827.
Many senior tour groups are familiar with another part of the Lawry organization--Lawry's California Center. It's in an attractive garden setting 10 minutes from downtown Los Angeles at 570 West Avenue 26, near the Golden State Freeway and San Fernando Boulevard.
Tour groups are given a free 45-minute, behind-the-scenes tour of Lawry's, viewing the laboratories, test kitchens and modern factory where many of the firm's 100-plus products are produced. A free gift is included. Tour groups must make reservations, but individuals are welcome on a first-come, first-taken basis Monday through Friday at 11:30 a.m. and 12:30, 1:30 and 2:30 p.m.
The California Center also features its own "60 Plus Club" for mature travelers age 60 and over. The club provides a 10% discount on meals (alcoholic beverages not included) and another 10% off on purchases in the two excellent gift shops. Cards are issued on the spot.
"As of Jan. 1 we had more than 13,000 in our '60 Plus Club,' " says Sharon Goldman, special events manager, "and we've been adding about 1,000 members every month. Many seniors come in tour groups first, but soon come in often as repeaters for shopping, lunches or our Sunday brunch."
Lawry's California Center serves lunches year-round in the outdoor La Cocina restaurant, which features mild California-style Mexican dishes, or in La Barbacoa, which has grilled-to-order items such as chicken teriyaki and ribs, plus pastas and salads.
Prices at La Cocina average about $4.75 to $5.75; those in La Barbacoa are a bit higher. The food is excellent; it's served semi-buffet style, with leisurely dining inside or out. Again, "60-Plus" members (but not guests) get a 10% discount. Hours daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The same discount applies for shopping in the gourmet food and wine shop that features Lawry's products, ranging from a great California wine selection and a variety of kitchen and dining gadgets and gear. A second gift shop offers home furnishings, clothing and patio items in the California life style.
Lawry's California Center serves dinner from 3 to 9 p.m. in Las Portales Bar and Patio (price ranges from $6.75 to $8.95). Starting in April and continuing through November, dinners of steak, chicken and seafood will be served for an up-class dining experience with a mariachis band Wednesday through Sunday nights.
A Sunday brunch ($14.95) with unlimited margarita drinks is served from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations advised.
For more information, stop in at the center, which has plenty of free parking. Write to 570 West Ave. 26, Los Angeles 90065, or call (213) 225-2491.
The popular Carl's Jr. chain, with more than 444 outlets in California, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon, has been providing for the mature traveler on the road for five years.
It has a free 55-plus club that provides a 10% discount on breakfasts, lunch and dinner for those 55 and older. The only exception is that the 10% is not offered in connection with coupons or other specials.
So popular is the club that it adds nearly 2,000 members a month. Stop in at any Carl's Jr. for a free application. If they happen to be out of them, write to 1200 Harbor Blvd., Anaheim, Calif. 92803, or call (714) 775-5796.