Late-Night & Happy Hour: Food’s the Draw
Food trumps drinks as the top driver for both happy hour and late-night occasions at restaurants and bars. Two-thirds of consumers (64%) say food is an important factor in deciding where to go for late night, as compared with 41% who say adult beverages are important. For happy hour, six in 10 (61%) rank food as important vs. half who rate drinks as important (49%), according to Technomic’s Dinner & Late Night Consumer Trend Report.
Lower gas prices and higher consumer confidence may have consumer feeling somewhat flush, but a level of conservativism lingers, heightening the appeal of cost-effective alternatives to purchasing a full meal in a restaurant or bar setting. Shareable appetizers or small plates can quell consumer cravings for affordable yet satisfying food that can drive traffic at happy hour and late night day parts. Add in attractively priced drinks and the appeal is heightened: 49% of consumers say drink specials are important at happy hour and 37% say the same for late night. Millennials and women are particularly in tune with drink specials during those time periods.
Several chains are capitalizing on patrons’ food-and-drink desires during non-meal periods. Bonefish Grill recently launched its IN + ON Bar Bites Menu; items are designed to pair with the concept’s fresh cocktail offerings. Yard House’s Late Night Happy Hour menu – known as The Dark Hour – involves discounted beer and cocktails and appetizers priced by the piece at select locations.