Business

Restaurant tattoo will get you free tacos for life

Thursday, April 01, 2010

In a tough economy, it pays to get creative if you want to get customers through the door. That's what a San Francisco taqueria is doing. Ten years ago, it was voted by Forbes Magazine as one of the best marketing campaigns of the year: get a tattoo and get free tacos for life. Now, it's back.

Marta Sanchez loves to catch up with her regular clients, and somewhere along the conversation she asks to see their tattoo, not just any tattoo, but the family's business logo there in the flesh. The logo is of her younger brother Jimmy, wearing a sombrero and riding on a giant ear of corn.

Ten years ago, she offered 50 people, like Greg Tietz and Guido Brenner, a meal and drink for free at Casa Sanchez for the rest of their lives if they got a tattoo of the business logo.

"So I asked her, 'OK, if I am going to get this tattoo, what do I take to the artists?' And she just gave us a bag of tortilla chips," said Tietz.

"Oh, I have a tent out front. I'm here when they open every morning," said customer Charles Foss.

Now the Sanchez family thinks it's time to offer the deal once again. They are calling it the "stimulus special."

"When someone comes you feed them, that's just our culture," said Sanchez.

Already, three new people have gotten tattoos. She's turned down a few.

"There have been a couple of people that ask things like, 'Well, if you don't give me the lunch, can I sue you?'" said Sanchez.

Some of the regular clients say through the years the deal has come in handy, especially now.

"With hard times I find myself coming here a lot more at lunch," says Brenner.

So who says there's no such thing as a free lunch? Well, when you think about it, the customer has to pay about $100 to get the tattoo. So they would have to eat between 10 and 15 lunches before they are really free.

It has been a good deal for Tietz who loves the burritos.

"Let's see, in 10 years [I've eaten]... 200, 250," said Tietz.

His friend Brenner calls it stomach insurance. Sanchez treats all of them like family.

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Tags:
stimulus funds, recession, economy, business, lyanne melendez
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