Boston Market announced the launch of a new kids-eat-free program designed to accommodate both single-parent and spending-wary families.

The “Two Kids Eat Free” program, which runs through October 31, allows two children age 14 and under to receive a free kids’ meal with the purchase of one adult meal priced $6 or more. Four kids’ meals are free with the purchase of one Family Meal.

“The program came about as we started thinking about our own response to everybody else doing a kids-eat-free program,” says Lane Cardwell, CEO of Boston Market. “We were going to do one like everyone else, which was going to be on terms that were favorable to us, whether or not it matched the guests’ needs.”

However, Cardwell says the company decided to offer a new spin on the typical kids-eat-free program after researching existing programs and the needs of the American family.

“We started digging deeper and saw that literally one in three households with kids are single-parent, which these programs are available to but don’t really benefit as much,” Cardwell says, noting that in a standard program, for two kids to eat free two parents must be present. “Then we looked at the size of households and saw that 21 percent have more than two kids, where these programs, even with two adults going in, don’t benefit the family as much.”

The “Two Kids Eat Free” program at Boston Market is also available all day every day for dine-in, carry-out, or drive-thru guests. Caldwell says this is different than most programs, which make the offer available only under certain restrictions, such as only on weekends, only at night, or only for dine-in orders.

“Most [quick-serves] are trying to set the rules. It’s like casinos in Vegas; they make the rules and they set it so that the advantage is in their favor,” Cardwell says. “We decided to open it up and hopefully we’ll all end up winning when this over.”

Cardwell says that he hopes the goodwill Boston Market is showing its customers during tough economic times will benefit the brand after the recession.

“Personally, I think that if the industry could get behind groups that are more challenged economically right now and do a little bit more than what they’re doing, we’ll all be better off as an industry,” he says. “Competitively, I’d love to keep it myself, but if there is going to be something copied out there, this would be a great thing to be copied.”

Boston Market Kids’ Meals are between $3.79 and $4.29 and include entrée, small side, cornbread, and kid-size beverage. Entrées include chicken drumsticks, roasted turkey, meatloaf, and macaroni and cheese.

By Sam Oches

News, Boston Market