Early Bird Specials for Retirees

February 17, 2015

About forty years ago, my community had a lot of senior citizens and a lot of restaurants offering all-you-can-eat early bird specials for $2.99. It didn’t take too long before the senior citizens ate so much of their three-dollar-dinners that they put a lot of those restaurants out of business.

I remember one couple, in particular, who found a restaurant that was a little out of the way, that had an all-you-can-eat early bird buffet for $1.99. Their special was from 3;00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., and they were always packed. It never occurred to me that people would want to eat dinner so early but they did so they could go to their card games for the evening.

The restaurant managed to stay in business for about a year or two and I think this particular couple put them out of business. They were enormous and they didn’t get that way by watching their weight; they got that way because of all the food they could pack in during that hour and a half.

There were no doggie bags at those restaurants but the amount of food people ate at those early bird specials guaranteed that if they had a dog, the dog would have starved. Needless to say, prices eventually went up and the quality of the food eventually went down.

I think the medical community thrived during those years because people couldn’t tell if they were having heartburn or a heart attack. They also looked and acted a lot older than the senior citizens today. If you went into one of those restaurants, no one required you to show proof of your age because you looked your age.

Nowadays, most of those restaurants have early bird specials for senior citizens who are older than fifty years, but in the previous years, you had to be sixty-five. And another new requirement was that because the senior citizen age had been lowered to fifty years, people were now required to show proof of age and the waitstaff were trained to be very sweet about telling them that the reason they have to show proof of age is because so many senior citizens look so young.

There are now more than 76 million Baby Boomers who will be retiring in the next five years, at the rate of 10,000 a day, starting now, but hopefully, not all coming to my community to retire.

Nonetheless, the dynamics are sure to change. When people have nothing to do, they go out to eat, so it takes up some of their unoccupied time. It wouldn’t surprise me if more restaurants opened up to accommodate the new diners, and that means that we’ll see more of those all-you-can-eat buffets, but with higher prices and cheaper quality foods.

Time will tell if the retired Baby Boomers will start to look their age once they have nothing better to do than go out to eat every evening to kill a few hours.

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