Food Franchises Score Big for March Madness 2023

Food Franchises Score Big for March Madness 2023

Bracket Contests and Special Promotions Lure Customers to Food Franchises During the NCAA Tournament

With March Madness 2023 games already in play, food franchisors are attracting college hoops fans (and sales) during the multi-week NCAA tournament. Brands like Buffalo Wild Wings, TGI Fridays, and QDOBA Mexican Eats are offering special products and are holding bracket contests with big prizes. 

History of March Madness

The famed NCAA tournament began in 1939, with only eight teams. The first national champion was Oregon, defeating Ohio State for the title. “March Madness” was first used to describe basketball by Henry V. Porter, an Illinois high school official, and made it on the NCAA broadcast by CBS broadcaster Brent Musburger in 1982.

Like the term “March Madness,” making brackets (the 68-team format which plots the route of each team) has become synonymous with the NCAA tournament. Brackets get fans involved, offering a chance to win big money. According to the American Gambling Association survey, an estimated 68 million Americans are expected to bet over $15.5 billion on March Madness 2023, making it the most wagered-on sporting event in the U.S.

For food franchisors, offering deals, promotions, and bracket contests is a slam dunk for boosting business. Below are some fun and creative ways restaurants are getting in on the college hoops’ action during March Madness 2023.

Fast-Food Promotions for March Madness 2023

Buffalo Wild Wings

 Buffalo Wild Wings, March Madness 2023

For March Madness 2023, Buffalo Wild Wings released two new sauces. The Buffalo Ranch sauce is spicy and tangy, and the Honey Garlic has a sweeter and more savory taste. The fast-casual brand also gave fans the chance to win tickets to the NCAA Final Four in April and an all-inclusive stay during the First Round at the new BnB-Dubs pop-up location. Located in a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Houston, the fun, immersive pop-up space (above) includes big screen TVs, a locker room mockup, themed artwork, banners, trophies, a sauce bar on tap and more. Additionally, Buffalo Wild Wings is offering Blazin’ Rewards members six free boneless wings if any March Madness game (men’s or women’s) goes into overtime.


Wendy’s is going big on March Madness 2023. In addition to recruiting retired NBA player Reggie Miller to promote its square burgers (see Square’s the Beef? campaign video above), it also has the official hamburger of March Madness 2023. Wendy’s has deals for the NCAA tournament. The Dave’s Single can be enjoyed for $1 when guests order in the Wendy’s app through April 5. Through April 9, guests can get six chicken nuggets for free on orders over $10 made on the Wendy’s app. Wendy’s is also offering $2 off any Breakfast Combo orders made via the app through April 16. Additionally, orders of $15 or more will be discounted by $3 and Wendy’s Kids’ Meal with any purchase are 50% through April 16. Delivery orders over $20 will be reduced by $4.

TGI Fridays

TGI Fridays, March Madness 2023

To keep fans excited during March Madness 2023, TGI Fridays is offering deals from March 23-26, which are the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight playoffs. Guests get 25% off on platters, party trays and family meal bundles to go by using the code GAMEON25 at checkout for online and call-in takeout orders.

Philly Pretzel Factory

Philly Pretzel Factory, March Madness 2023

In celebration of March Madness 2023, Philly Pretzel Factory is hosting the “Salty 16” Bracket Contest. Through March 31, VIP Club Members can build a pretzel-dip bracket to win prizes and see which snacks and dips are the most popular. Snacks including Mini Pretzels, Cinnamon Rivets, and Pretzel Dogs will face-off against dips like Yellow Mustard, Nacho Cheese, Butter Cream, and Cinnamon. Prizes include a Playstation 5 with NBA 2K23; SoundLink Revolve+ II Bluetooth speaker; $100 NCAA store gift card; Apple Watch SE; Philly Pretzel Factory Party Trays; and more. The results of the contest will be announced on April 4, and the winners will be contacted via text message on April 7.

QDOBA Mexican Eats

To commemorate March Madness 2023, QDOBA is offering double points for every visiting member through April 3. By hitting the “click-to-load” option via email, customers will be able to use their points to unlock a free entree in March. To take watch parties to the next level, the Mexican-inspired franchise is also offering catering options including the Ultimate Nacho Bar, Mega Burrito 10-Packs and Chips & Dips Party Pack.


 Hooters, March Madness 2023

Hooters is celebrating its 40th anniversary and March Madness 2023 by hosting an online tournament bracket to give participants the chance to win a trip. The winner and a friend can go to: Dublin, Ireland; Cancun, Mexico; Clearwater, Fla., for the brand’s 40th Anniversary Party; or Las Vegas, Nev., for the 2023 Miss Hooters International Pageant. Hooters will also give the top four bracket winners who pick 60 or more games correctly $40,000 each. The top bracket winner at each Hooters location will also get a $40 Hooters gift card. Guests can score slam dunks at watch parties with the brand’s basketball bundles. Hooters is offering 20 bone-in wings, 24 buffalo shrimp, and curly fries for $49.99 and 15 bone-in wings, 16 boneless wings, and curly fries for $39.99. These deals are available through April 3 at participating Hooters locations.

Fox & Hound Bar + Grill

Fox & Hound Bar + Grill, March Madness 2023

Through April 9, the Fox & Hound Bar + Grill is offering all-day drinks including $4 Bud Light drafts, $5 Sam Adams drafts, $7 Teremana Tequila and Jager shots, and $9 “Deer & a Beer.” For those staying at home to watch the games, the restaurant franchise has takeout platters: the Slider Platter, which includes 10 fried chicken and 10 cheeseburger sliders, and the Nashville Hot Chicken Tender platter, featuring 18 Nashville hot chicken tenders served on Texas toast with dill pickles. 

In conjunction with its sister concepts, Craft Republic Bar & Grill and Champps Sports Bar, Fox & Hound is offering the Nashville VIP Giveaway. This sweepstakes is for an all-inclusive trip for two to Nashville VIP nights at Lucky Bastard Saloon and Whiskey River Saloon. MVP loyalty members who dine at Craft Republic, Fox & Hound and Champps during the tournament can win and will be automatically entered when they use their bracket card though April 3. 

O’Charley’s Restaurant + Bar

On March 18 and 19, O’Charley’s Restaurant + Bar is offering guests 20% off their orders with the code SLAMDUNK. Guests can also celebrate the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight rounds with 16% off of their online orders by using the promo code SWEETSIXTEEN from March 23-26.

Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks, March Madness 2023

Twin Peaks is teaming up with Dos Equis for the $2 Million Bracket Challenge for March Madness 2023. While it is nearly impossible to have a perfect bracket (a one in 9.2 quintillion chance), the guest who accomplishes this feat will win $2 million. The participant with the overall bracket gets Twin Peaks for a year in the form of $5,000 in e-gift cards. Guests with the overall bracket at each Twin Peaks location will also get a $50 gift card.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit

Dickey's Barbecue Pit, March Madness 2023

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is offering multiple deals for March Madness 2023. Guests can get 20% off a Game Day Pack, which feeds four to six and includes 24 wings, two sauces, three medium sides, six Texas Toast slices, and ranch. The Ribs and Wings Big Yellow Box is also 20% off and includes 18 ribs, 24 wings, a large mac and cheese and cole slaw, barbecue sauce, bread, and ranch dressing. To get these deals, guests have to use the LUCKY20 promo code at checkout for orders made on Dickey’s website or app. Additionally, Cue Combos are meant for one person and consist of six wings, three ribs, a side, and a Big Yellow Cup.

Cousins Subs

Cousins Subs, March Madness 2023

In commemoration of March Madness 2023, Cousins Subs is offering $0.80 delivery on mobile orders of $20 or more at participating locations for three weekends straight.

Cicis Pizza

Cicis Pizza, March Madness 2023

Cicis Pizza is offering three new party packs for March Madness 2023. The Classic Pack starts at $27.99 and features two giant one-topping pizzas and either 20 cinnamon rolls or 16 cheesy breads. With the Popper Pack, guests get two giant one-topping pizzas and a choice of 12 poppers, starting at $26.99. The Wing Pack, which contains two giant one-topping pizzas and 10 bone-in or boneless wings, is $33.99.


Bonchon - March Madness 2023

To get in on the March Madness fun, Bonchon is offering 50 wings for $65 with a choice of Soy Garlic Sauce, Spicy Sauce or Half & Half. Through April 3, this deal is available for pickup and delivery.

Firehouse Subs

Firehouse Subs, March Madness 2023

Through April 2, Firehouse Subs is offering $2 off any sub purchase made on the app using the promo code HOOPS. Guests have two weeks to redeem the offer.

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Haley Cafarella is a passionate journalist and writer for IFPG. In her role as content and marketing specialist, she creates original articles for FranchiseWire and Franchise Consultant Magazine. Her specialties include educational articles about buying a franchise and franchise consulting. She also reports on franchise professionals who were recently promoted or hired through FranchiseWire’s popular HireWire series.

Haley has contributed to a variety of regional publications, including Quo Vadis, New Brunswick Today, and the Trenton Monitor. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Rutgers University.
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