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Menus, Marketing, & Management tips to grow your restaurant business.


Happy Hour Menu Ideas To Make Your Menu Standout

Incorporating a happy hour menu into your normal menu is a smart way to increase sales during a time of day when people don’t normally frequently restaurants. According to a Nielson study done in 2018, bars and restaurants are able to generate over 60% of their sales during happy hour. The average ticket during happy hour is $8 over the average dinner ticket. These numbers really are astounding, considering this time of day would typically be dead space in the financial books of any restaurant.

Happy Hour Strategy

According to Lauren, CEO and founder of RefineUS, a restaurant consulting company, popular happy hour menu items vary from state to state. What flies in New England might be very different than what goes over well in the South. She said the two most important things to consider when developing a happy hour menu are: consumption and margin.

Consumption. When asked how to develop or improve a happy hour menu, Lauren said she usually asks restaurant owners to determine the vibe/brand of their restaurant and go from there. Happy hour menu items in an upscale restaurant should vary greatly from that which is offered at a pub, for example. She also recommends analyzing the PMIX report and make determinations based on tried and true sellers.

Margin. Most of the margin in happy hour is in the drink selection, and this part of the menu should be approached thoughtfully. A restaurant that sells more beer than wine on a regular basis might want to offer discounted beer on tap during happy hour, whereas a wine bar would offer discounted wines during that time. Either way, the most important thing to consider, apart from predicting what will go over well, is developing a strategy for purchasing and selling drinks that adds to the bottom line. Don’t put your most expensive wine on the happy hour menu, for example, but rather find one that is decent and can reasonably be sold at a discounted rate without compromising your margin.

Happy Hour Menu Ideas

Utilizing the strategies outlined above will go a long way toward crafting a happy hour menu that is as tasty as it is lucrative. When it comes to finalizing food items, there are some other creative ideas that have been developed over the years by restaurateurs.

Offer “Employee Favorites.” Many people will ask their waiter or waitress, “What is good here?” before ordering. It is no secret that the employees eat the food, often trying most everything on the menu. Highlighting selections that are favorites during happy hour entices the customer to try new things.

Include items that are miniature selections of regular menu items. Someone may be intrigued by the chipotle chicken nachos, but are unwilling to commit to an entire place of them for $15. A nice selection of miniature versions of dinner food allows your customers to try new things and come back for more.

Include food and drink that is only available during this time. Knowing something is only available during happy hour has been shown to increase the curiosity factor enough to entice customers to order these items.

Regardless of the menu, no one can argue that happy hour is here to stay. Restaurant owners are wise to study the trends, look into happy hour menu ideas, and create a pre-dinner experience that is both lucrative and marketable.

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