But while they are not advertising as Ms. Austin has done, many legal owners are marketing nonetheless, with offers such as casino-style VIP programs that "comp" frequent customers and offer barbecues for truckers and other passersby. Explained Mr. Flint: "'Get your card punched, and the 10th visit is free.' Or free buffets, so you can come and have a nice roast beef dinner with the girls."
Added Mr. Johnson: "We market Donna's as a home away from home for truckers. There's always free chili, ham and beans, and corn bread. And they respond to it. We'll hold a barbecue, and they're the ones who are flipping the burgers."