happy hour

The evolution of happy hour

Consumer habits have changed so much over the last few years, but despite flex hours and remote work, it looks like happy hour is still bringing people together and raising restaurant revenues. While happy hour once meant that people left the office to gather for after-work drinks, some are suggesting that it’s evolved, as customers now seek this type of connection more than ever.

And because of the pause that many restaurants took during the pandemic, there’s an opportunity for operators to reintroduce an updated, refreshed version of happy hour.

What can this reimagined happy hour look like? There are a few trends to consider that can help attract customers and fill your tables.

Draw in a younger crowd

Where the bars and restaurants were once crowded after work with professionals, this time of day is becoming popular with a younger generation. And because this generation tends to be one focused on immediacy, properly managing labour to offer superior service may well differentiate restaurants from one another.

Give the people what they want – and that may not be a traditional happy hour. 41 per cent of people aged 21 to 34 say they are interested in a happy hour when they visit late-night restaurants. You may need to venture outside what you’ve tried before to capture the attention of this audience.

Expand your menu

Bar bites, cocktails, mocktails and more make up a well-rounded happy hour menu. Get creative to have your features stand out. You might use the time to test out new features, experiment with fresh flavours, or create dishes that use up ingredients that are already in your kitchen. Don’t forget to switch it up, too. If you want people to return week after week, you will need to vary your menu to keep them interested.

You might also want to look at when your menu gets featured. Since Wednesday happy hour traffic tends to be 24 per cent higher than other weekdays, consider expanding your offerings to capitalize on a mid-week special.

Consider off-premise customers

Offering a happy hour menu for takeout and delivery may be a chance to expand your customer base. As off-premise dining now accounts for about 40 per cent of restaurant sales, it may benefit your business to create some happy hour features for your off-premise customers. As well, studies show that 55 per cent of consumers have participated in a remote happy hour. Consider creating a corporate menu to address remote workers and adapted corporate events to broaden your revenue streams.

Happy hour can still be a very profitable revenue generator for restaurants, it just may look a little different than previous versions. Take the time to create a menu and experience that appeals to your customers and works for your business, as you consider how happy hour has evolved.