Mimi’s Café’s Value RevolutionNovember 14, 2011 By: Alissa Ponchione
When it comes to happy-house specials, every operator thinks their happy hour is not only the best but also offers the most value. However, the executives at Mimi’s Café claim that theirs is the happiest. Launching its “Happiest Hour” promotion, the Irvine, Calif.- based Mimi’s Café is offering small bites and wine flights every day of the week. Chief Concept Officer Mark Mears says that at 145 locations, guests will be offered delicious treats and drinks — all part of Mimi's Value Revolution strategy. By appealing to guests who want to enjoy great drinks and food for half the price, Mimi's team has seen customers lingering longer at the restaurant, as well as showing up a few times a week. Mears spoke with VIBE about creating Mimi’s "Happiest Hour," promoting the brand and discussing how to create value without losing substance.
VIBE: What went into planning Mimi’s “Happiest Hour” happy hour?
Mark Mears: Mimi’s “Happiest Hour” was developed as a key part of Mimi’s Value Revolution. The exciting programs that are being rolled out as part of the Value Revolution were created to appeal to guests who would like to dine out more frequently but — given the uncertain economic times — may be less inclined to do so. We heard our guests, and they want quality drinks and food at a great value for every dining occasion.
We’re on a mission to revolutionize value in casual dining as we know it, and our "Happiest Hour" is an integral part of that. In today’s tough economy, guests are demanding more value for their hard-earned dining dollars. Now, they can have more of what they love about Mimi’s based upon their individual tastes, appetite and budget, including Mimi’s innovative new Wine Flights & Bistro Bites, as well as domestic draft and bottles, drinks and wine by the glass.
Our Wine Flights, consisting of three two-ounce pours of white, red or sparkling wines, allow our guests the opportunity to explore a variety of tastes. Additionally, these particular wines were selected to be paired with different Bistro Bites and other menu offerings. Each wine flight comes complete with tasting notes and suggested food pairings to guide guests on their tasting journey. Guests are encouraged to post their thoughts/feedback on our Facebook Fan page to share with other Mimi’s fans.
We want everyone to come into Mimi’s to enjoy a special "Mimi’s Moment” with their friends while enjoying a great glass of wine or delicious small plate without breaking their bank. That is why we are offering new $5 Wine Flights (normally priced at $8) and $5 Bistro Bites, $3 domestic drafts and bottles, $4 drinks and $5 select wines by the glass during our "Happiest Hour" promotion.
VIBE: What food, wine and beer do you offer during happy hour?
Mears: Mimi’s new Bistro Bites menu features a collection of our most popular starters and small plates including BBQ Pork Sliders, Beef Sliders, Crispy Zucchini Parmesan, Chicken Tenders, Crab Fritters and a new Signature Cheese ‘n Fruit Plate.
Mimi’s new white, red or sparkling wine flights (usually $8) come in three two-ounce pours that are perfect for tasting. Guests also can customize their flight and substitute any wine on our menu for just $1 more.
Mimi’s Bistro red wine flight starts with velvety Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz to classic Zinfandel. The white wine flight progresses from fruity Pinot Grigio to Sauvignon Blanc and full-bodied Chardonnay. Mimi’s wildly popular Mimosa, Hibiscus and Sparkling Strawberry specialty drinks star in the Sparkling Wine Flight, as they are all paired with a Split of Freixenet.
VIBE: How does Mimi’s happy hour differentiate itself from other happy hours?
Mears: Mimi’s "Happiest Hour" takes place from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 4 to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday; hours and offers may vary by location. Mimi’s "Happiest Hour" stands out because it is offered every day of the week and not just in the bar but throughout the entire restaurant! Unlike traditional happy hours that are more limited in scope, Mimi’s provides a full array of choices between red, white, sparkling and customizable wine flights and bistro bites to domestic draft and bottles and select wines by the glass. Additionally, we offer guests tasting notes and suggested food pairings to enhance their experience. Mimi’s "Happiest Hour" offers a variety of quality food and drinks at a tremendous value in a warm, comfortable setting.
VIBE: Why was it important to have a designated happy hour at Mimi's?
Mears: Positioned as a “Neighborhood Bistro, Inspired by France,” we know the French love great food and wine. Mimi’s guests know and love us primarily for our breakfast and lunch. We want them to experience our starters, small plates, bar offerings and French-inspired dinner selections like our new seasonal Tour de Paris menu. We also want to enhance their meal with exciting food and drink pairings. Plus, it is important to offer great values for every meal and every dining occasion.
VIBE: How important are the drink offerings in your happy-hour specials?
Mears: Our drink offerings are imperative to re-introducing our guests to our unique, inventive bar menu, as well as providing them an opportunity to learn about specific food-and-wine pairings and allowing them to try a variety of wines so they can discover their individual preferences and broaden their dining experience.
VIBE: What percentage of your total sales is alcohol? Has that increased since you started your happy hour?
Mears: As we transition Mimi’s from family to a more casual-dining establishment, we are expanding our adult-beverage program. The new “Happiest Hour” value initiative is just the beginning. We have seen a significant increase in alcohol sales since the beginning of our "Happiest Hour" program, approximately 15%!
VIBE: How often will you update your happy-hour specials? Have you thought about starting a late-night happy-hour option, as well?
Mears: Given we have only recently begun our “Happiest Hour” program, our goal is to read the results and innovate within our unique Flights ‘n Bites platform. We could envision Martini Flights, Beer Flights, Cheese Flights and Dessert Flights.
VIBE: What is your strategy to create value at your happy hour?
Mears: As stated previously, we have anchored our Value [Revolution] by featuring very prominently our $5 Wine Flights (normally $8) and Bistro Bites (normally $5.99 to $7.99), as well as lower-priced drafts and bottles, as well as select wines by the glass — given the quality of our food, wine, beer and spirits, it is easily the best "value" for any happy hour we have found!