franchise-restaurants.jpgSome experts argue there's no such thing as a recession-proof franchise, but many restaurants have been hanging on to their economy-wary customers by lowering their menu prices and offering meals for around $5 dollars.

Chicago-based research firm Mintel notes a growing number of franchises with $5 promotions, including Subway's "$5 foot-longs," Quizno's Large Deli Favorites for $5, Pizza Hut's Pizza Mia Pizzas for $5 (when three or more are ordered), and Boston Market meals for $5. Furthermore, sit-down restaurant chains are getting in on the low-price lure. TGI. Friday's "Right Portion, Right Price" menu of smaller-serving entrees goes for $5.99-$9.99, while Ruth's Chris Steak House's "Economy Proof" meal, including an entrée, side dish, soup or sald, is priced at $35.95.

It's too early to tell if the value pricing has fended off the effects of a slowing economy for food franchisees, but Mintel dietician Maria Caranfa thinks these restaurants are on the right track.

"It's smart for restaurants to advertise lower prices," she says. "The key to making these lower prices work, however, is maintaining food quality and making sure every customer's experience is optimal. Restaurants need to make cheap chic."