What can bars and clubs do to liven up happy hour?

Q: “Our Happy Hours have gotten slow, and the owner asked the bartenders to brainstorm ideas to pick the business back up. I’ve watched the show "Bar Rescue," and there is only so much you can take from that show without actually redoing the whole building. I am wondering if there are any special things going on during happy hours around the country or the world that I could possibly bring to my bar to help attract a strong clientele during happy hours.”

A. 1. Value: Guests have come to expect a great value during happy hours. To that end, those who are doing happy hour well have made value the core of their tagline. McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant features a happy hour food menu offering a variety of great items ranging from $1.95 to $5.95; Flemings Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar features a 5 (items) for $6 until 7 (p.m.). Bars looking to up their happy hour ante need a compelling offer that sets them apart from the competition and makes guests feel like they got the deal of the century. For instance, offer great deals on menu items or 1/2 price glasses of wine.

2. Have a Signature Item: Happy hour is a great time for bars and restaurants to develop a reputation for one specific specialty item. For example, Volcano bar in Houston, Texas, is known for their frozen screwdrivers and the Crocodile Lounge in New York City gives everyone free pizza with the purchase of beer during happy hour. Whatever the item is — free pickle backs (pickle juice shots) — happy hour is a great time to promote it. Be known for that item, make it a focus and something that is constant versus a different specialty each night of the week.

3. Sum it all up with a great tagline that people won't forget.

4. Training: Whether building happy hour sales or sales in general, training the staff is always a great way to build business. Great service combined with upselling techniques adds to overall guest experience and increases the bottom line.

From the Promotional Experts at Patrick Henry Creative Promotions, Inc. in Houston, Texas