Restaurant Success Tips

Happy hours are one of the most successful sales strategies for bars and restaurants. According to the National Restaurant Association, happy hour and late-night drink specials account for one-third of alcoholic beverage sales.

There are a few ways to have the most buzzing happy hour in town, but without an attractive happy hour menu—there is little else you can do to convert first-timers into regulars. Follow these six tips below to create a happy hour menu that has guests coming back again and again.

1. Attractively Low Prices

Happy-hour patrons tend to be loyal to their favorite watering holes, but only if they feel like they’re getting the best deal. In fact, one of the main attractions of happy hour is the special discounts—customers are expecting a bargain!

According to Statista, 46% of happy hour goers are drawn by good prices on drinks. However, a close 41% of guests reported that value-priced food was also an attraction. Offering food specials is a sure way to promote additional sales and to attract a larger crowd during your happy hour.

Through your Bar POS system, mark your drink and food items down in minutes to have a popular happy hour menu. Make customers feel comfortable enough to stay and order for hours. The low prices make them feel easy and relaxed, instead of worried what the bill will be.

2. Have Signature Cocktails

Here is where the bartender’s skill and creativity come to play. Women love specialty drinks and more likely to try new cocktail recipes than men. Given this fact, bartenders should offer women specialty drinks that include some type of premium or top-shelf brand of liquor. If the female patron likes the drink, then there is a high probability that they will order another and even suggest it to their friends or bar mate.

So, give your bar staff a chance to be creative and invent a signature cocktail for your menu. A successful signature drink should be delicious and unique—and impossible to find anywhere else. Keep your guests coming back for more with these one-of-a-kind cocktails.

The best signature drinks show off a bar’s personality. Find a way to integrate your brand and culture into the contents of the drink, whether that’s with a drink color that matches your logo or by using your own distilled gin. Plus, it’s an easy and effective marketing tactic. Add your bar’s name to the drink, and your reputation will spread like wildfire.

3. Shareable Plates

Happy hours are not solo activities—they’re intended for letting loose with friends and colleagues. Considering that happy hour is tailor-made for groups, tailor your happy hour menu to accommodate them. If you have any single-serving entrées or appetizers listed—like a soup—remove them from the menu. For happy hour, only serve shareable plates. Think spring rolls, miniature empanadas, dips, and tuna tartars. So long as multiple people can grab and enjoy a dish at once, it’s ideal for happy hour. Shareable meals, fueled by the trends of small plates and communal tables, have proven to be more than just a passing fad. According to statistics from Technomic, about Seventy percent of consumers order shareable meals so they can try more than one item on the menu.

Also, sharing small plates with companions tends to create a more party-like experience for guests, which every restaurant offering happy hour packages should capitalize on. However, more than any other factor, 69 percent of consumers report that dining with friends contributes to a more fun, exciting restaurant experience.

4. Downsize Your Entrées and Other Menu Favorites

Create miniature versions of your popular lunch and dinner entrees as one of your happy hour menu promotions. Think mini tacos, slider-sized gourmet burgers, and bite-size avocado toast (give the millennials what they want).  We recommend shareable plates for happy hours too, and that includes down-sized versions of your best entrées or other menu favorites. If the hangar steak is a top seller, offer a small portion or consider pre-slicing it for easy sharing. Not only does this turn loyal dinner patrons into happy hour guests, but this also peaks the curiosity of your happy hour customers. Once they get a taste of how great your food is, they might stay on for dinner.

5. Make Your Happy Hour Available During Convenient Hours

What’s the point of hosting a happy hour that few customers get to enjoy?

Since the typical guests are professionals leaving work, there’s nothing less effective than a badly scheduled happy hour between 2 PM and 4 PM. If your happy hour starts before 5 PM and ends earlier than 7 PM, people will assume you don’t really want to serve a “true” happy hour. To be a popular bar, your happy hour must be scheduled at a convenient time. Creating a more convenient happy hour schedule is more likely to attract guests, as it provides a reason for them to choose your restaurant or bar over another option.

6. Add Virgin Drinks

Offering virgin drinks opens your happy hour to colleagues and friends that don’t drink alcohol. Too often, there is nothing appealing on the menu by way of non-alcoholic drinks. This is unfortunate because oftentimes, someone who doesn’t drink feels excluded from an otherwise inclusive group affair. Offer tasty non-alcoholic drinks so all guests feel invited to the party, instead of stuck sipping on cranberry juice for hours.

Regardless of all you do, it’s important to create value that customers will always look forward to, This characteristic many times can be the overriding factor in the happy hour decision-making process. How long do the specials last, what are they and how much do they cost? This information can be the most widely disseminated facts when determining where to go after work with some friends.

The big question is where can this information be found in one place quickly and used to your advantage? How and what is the best way to spread this information to your friends and your community? There are many more considerations that can go into making a decision on evaluating a happy hour. What are yours? If you’re seeking inspiration for a new happy hour drink, check out these cocktail trends for 2020.