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Stamping your way to a free lunch at B&O Brasserie

Rewards cards or frequent diner cards are pretty old news when it comes to walk-up establishments like coffee shops or delis.

And you might find them at chain restaurants like Applebees or T.G.I. Friday’s.

But you just don’t see them at white table cloth establishments … or at least you didn’t. But Baltimore’s relatively new upscale eatery, the B&O American Brasserie located in the Hotel Monaco, is bucking the establishment. The restaurant is offering a lunch rewards card that diners can get stamped once for every lunch they have there. Four stamps earns you a free lunch valued up to $14 (excluding tax and tip of course.)

Now, you might be rolling your eyes — I did. After all, $14 isn’t as exciting as a totally free lunch. But after thinking it through, I have to give the restaurant credit — its lunch menu, while limited, is affordable compared with its downtown competition. Salads and entrees range from $9 to $17 so depending on what you order you’d still throw in a few dollars for a drink and tip but it’s still a decent deal.

And of course, it encourages returning customers — something all restaurants in B&O’s category are trying to figure out how to do.

But I have to wonder about the notion of a frequent diner’s card … given its usage with cheaper establishments and chains, does this hurt B&O’s brand image at all?