Photo and Feature Photo: joeltelling

“Coming Soon,” says the Drury Hotels website in anticipation of what the Midwestern US chain calls its “5:30 Kickback,” a company-wide policy that will include a “free” dinner for every guest between 5:30 and 7:30 P.M.

Photo: brad_holt

SPECIALS WILL VARY from day to day beginning in February 2010 with some unlimited and constant choices, among them carrots and celery and use of the soda fountain. You might need to cash in your your “three free drink passes” to truly enjoy such daily offerings as “Ball Park hot dogs and chili,” or charbroiled meatballs with barbecue sauce, but you can’t beat the price.

The 5:30 Kickback menu brags:
“A good hot dog is a profound experience. Lives will be changed, have already been changed, by the Drury frank.”
— Thomas Jenks, entrepreneur

If you don’t have a cast iron stomach, I have no doubt that this will be the case for you.

While many businesses have used the economic crisis to gouge their customers in secret and insidious ways, it appears that Drury Hotels have made a point of going back to good old customer service values by enticing us with something we all like: free food.

Let’s hope that other businesses that rely on our tourism dollars will come to the same conclusion. You catch more flies with three free margaritas a night than with a poorly stocked, loudly humming soda machine.