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Mar 23, 2009 11:31 PM

Is happy hour the new dinner out?

My friends head out to happy hours every week, with Sazerac being a latest favorite. At $2.00 a dish, how can Sazerac sustain this practice? Now Poppy follows suit: $5 sample thali (5pm-7pm), $6 "naanwich" (9-last call). Offered Tues-Thurs and Sun. What are others thinking?

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  1. They sustain it by making money off of the alcohol. Huge profit margin on drinks. If it doesn't work then they go the way of Lehman Bros.

    1. Also, the logic goes like this: First choice is obviously having people in for a full price dinner, but if you aren't getting enough people in, you move to second choice: having them in for reduced price meal. Still better than option 3: Not having them in at all. With happy hour they are able to still move product through and keep things fresh and at least recoup some of the money, even if at a diminished price.

      The fact is you don't really lose the customers coming in for a full price dinner--those people will come in either way, if that is what they want, very few will decide to go to happy hour instead, while you will definitely be pulling in new customers for happy hour.

      1. Yeah, I think it's a growing phenomenon. Happy hours have always existed, but I don't remember such a variety in the past, with so many great places offering such great food. It used to be just classic bar food (wings, nachos, onion rings, little burgers, etc.) Naanwiches and thalis are a much better idea.

        And Portland has such a fabulous selection of happy hours to choose from. Do y'all know how lucky you are? My town's happy hours are small potatoes compared yours!

        For example, the happy hour at Ten-01 is amazing - not as cheap as Poppy, to be sure, but the two of us had plenty of food (and wine) for about $35. What a deal for five-star food! And, when I was there, the bar really cleared out at 6pm. I'm sure it fills up again later in the evening, but they're clearly packing 'em in for happy hour.


        1. It is catching on, but it's always been around, they are called tapas, and usually followed by bar as in tapas bar. A few people order a variety of these small appetizers and share them.

          I think Applebees is doing that a lot, with things like "sliders" (small burgers). It is a fun way to go out, have drinks and share a big variety of foods. They call their's Ultimate Trios. You pick from 3 appetizers for $11.99, although many places offer lowered appetizer prices for happy hour, which can also be used as small shared meals:

          Lots of places have appetizer samplers, where they offer you already set samples coupled together (mozzarella sticks, boneless buffalo wings, etc) as does Applebees and The Olive Garden and I'm sure a lot more places do also.

          Even KFC has a menu of $1 items, like their snackers (small chicken sandwiches) either bbq chicken sammie, regular fried chicken sammie, etc. in their Ultimate Value Menu. Not exactly a fun night out there, but everyone is getting on board with these offerings of small items.

          1 Reply
          1. re: tailwagger

            Please don't confuse "inexpensive" food with "cheap" food.

          2. I'm from Bellevue, WA and our downtown has started to become rather fun with all the nice restaurants offering happy hours...


            I keep a copy of this list in my purse so that when I'm in the mood for a drink, I don't need to run home to do the research.