Happy Hour Marketing Ideas for Your Restaurant: Menu and Food Ideas to Keep Your Happy Hour Bustling

Happy Hour Marketing Ideas for Your Restaurant: Menu and Food Ideas to Keep Your Happy Hour Bustling

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Incorporating happy hour marketing effectively can significantly benefit your restaurant, from increased revenue to building a loyal customer base. With restaurants and bars earning an estimated 60% of their weekly sales from happy hours it is without a doubt a strategy worth investing in. In this blog we’ll review what happy hour marketing promotion is and then dive into some promotional happy hour ideas that you can use in your restaurant.

What is Happy Hour?

Happy hour marketing is a strategy used by restaurants to attract customers during specific hours of the day when they offer discounted prices on food and drinks. It is a valuable tool for increasing revenue and creating a buzz around your establishment. 

Happy hour typically occurs during the late afternoon or early evening, usually between 3:00pm and 7:00pm, though the exact timing can vary depending on your restaurant's preferences. The primary goal of happy hour promotion is to boost foot traffic during slower hours and increase overall revenue. It creates a sense of urgency and excitement among customers, encouraging them to visit your restaurant during these designated hours. Moreover, it cultivates a loyal customer base by offering them value for their money.

happy hour

Happy Hour Menu Ideas

Many of your customers see happy hour as a chance to try something new so make sure you include items on your happy hour menu that aren’t on your regular menu. Crafting an exclusive list of food and drink that is only available during happy hour will create intrigue and excitement. Not only will you please your customers by creating a special menu but it will also allow you to test items you are considering putting on your everyday menu. It’s best to collaborate with your chef to come up with these exclusive items but if you’re stuck for ideas you can find happy hour food ideas further down in this blog. Don’t forget to ensure you include some vegan and vegetarian options so that you can cater to a variety of customers. As for happy hour menu ideas, see our best tips below.

happy hour menu

Focus on Shareables and Platters

With 39% of people attending happy hour to catch up with friends there is a big focus on socializing at happy hour. It’s important to cater your happy hour selections to groups of customers. Focus on plates where people can graze amongst themselves, finger food also works well for sharing. 

Continuously Update Your Happy Hour Menu Items

You don’t want customers to only come once to your restaurant, you want to create loyal customers that keep coming back for more. One way to accomplish this is to keep updating or rotating your happy hour menu items to keep your menu exciting. 

Integrate Themes Into Your Happy Hour

If you’re getting stuck on how you can change up your happy hour menu, try a themed menu! These themes can range from seasonal themes like “Summer Beach Menu” to calendar events such as a “Valentines Day Menu” or even musical eras like “80s Evening.” On these themed nights you can cater your food to the theme, suggest costumes for you customers, put up decorations or all of the above! Test different ideas and see which ones resonate with your customers. If a certain theme is a big hit, consider making it a weekly or monthly occurrence.

Incorporate Cocktails (and Mocktails)

Just as it’s suggested you create an exclusive menu for your food items, special drink items are a happy hour hit. Try incorporating some unique cocktails as well as mocktails for a non-alcoholic option. You could give your house cocktails fun names or even theme the drink names to the happy hour theme of the night.

Encourage Loyalty From Regulars

With the goal of creating loyal customers in mind, consider how you can reward your regulars and keep encouraging them to come back for more. For example, you can provide them coupons or stamp cards. If you don’t want to offer discounts but you have some customer information you can send happy hour reminders encouraging them to come in and try your new specials!

Include Happy Hour in Your Online Ordering

To widen your reach, include your happy hour specials for your delivery and take out online ordering as well. Not everyone wants to visit your restaurant in person so by including them in your happy hour you're reaching more customers and if you impress them, maybe you’ll see them in person for the next happy hour! If setting up different happy hour menus on each third party delivery app seems daunting, check out Cuboh’s menu management where you can push menus to all apps with the click of a button. 

Happy Hour Food Ideas

Creating a happy hour menu that caters to various tastes while maintaining cost-effectiveness can be a challenge for any restaurant. The key is to offer small, flavorful, and easy-to-share dishes that pair well with your drink selections. Here are some happy hour food ideas to get you started.

happy hour food

Gourmet Sliders

Mini burgers made with high-quality ingredients such as Wagyu beef, topped with gourmet cheeses like Gorgonzola, and unique condiments. Offering a variety of sliders, including vegetarian options like a spicy black bean or quinoa beet patties, caters to all guests.

Artisan Flatbreads

Flatbreads with creative toppings, from classic Margherita to more adventurous combinations like pear and gorgonzola or BBQ chicken with red onions and cilantro. These are perfect for sharing and pair well with both wine and beer.

Tapas Style Plates

Small plates with a focus on flavors from around the world, such as Spanish patatas bravas, Mexican street corn, Asian-inspired pork belly bao buns, or Mediterranean mezze platters. This encourages guests to try multiple dishes and share among the table.

Seafood Delights

Offer a selection of seafood treats like mini crab cakes, shrimp cocktail shooters, or ceviche spoons. Seafood pairs exceptionally well with crisp white wines and light beers, making it a perfect happy hour choice.

Cheese and Charcuterie Boards

A selection of fine cheeses and cured meats, accompanied by nuts, fruits, and artisan bread, can cater to those looking for a more refined happy hour experience. This classic pairing is a hit with wine lovers.

Signature Wings

Wings are a happy hour staple. Offer them in various flavors ranging from classic Buffalo to sweet and spicy Asian glaze, and even dry-rubbed versions. Wings are great for groups and pair well with a range of beers.

Gourmet Fries

Elevate the humble french fry with luxurious toppings. Think truffle oil and Parmesan, sweet potato fries with a marshmallow dip, or loaded fries with brisket and cheese sauce. Great for snacking and sharing.

Sushi Rolls

Offer a selection of sushi rolls, including vegetarian options. Fresh, light, and a crowd-pleaser, sushi is an excellent choice for a more upscale happy hour menu.

Vegetarian and Vegan Options

Don't forget to include plant-based options like cauliflower wings, vegan sliders, and stuffed mushrooms. These offerings ensure that everyone finds something they can enjoy.

Dessert Bites

End on a sweet note with mini desserts. Chocolate truffles, mini cheesecakes, or bite-sized fruit tarts are perfect for those who want just a touch of sweetness to finish their happy hour experience.

Happy Hour Bar Special Ideas

Happy Hour is the perfect opportunity for restaurants and bars to showcase their mixology skills, offer great deals, and encourage customers to explore new drink options. Here are some bar special ideas that can help create an enticing happy hour menu.

happy hour bar special

Signature Cocktails

Create a list of unique cocktails that are only available during Happy Hour. Use this as an opportunity to experiment with flavors and presentation, making these drinks Instagram-worthy.

Craft Beer Tastings

Partner with local breweries to offer a selection of craft beer tastings. This not only supports local businesses but also introduces customers to beers they might not otherwise try.

Wine Flights

Offer a selection of wine flights that allow guests to sample different varieties of wine. This could be themed around regions, grape types, or even the bar's personal favorites.

Classic Cocktails at a Discount

Offer discounts on classic cocktails such as Margaritas, Old Fashioneds, and Martinis. This encourages patrons to enjoy their favorite drinks at a lower price.

Mocktail Menu

Don't forget about the non-drinkers. A creative mocktail menu ensures that everyone has an enjoyable Happy Hour experience. Use fresh ingredients and unique combinations to make these as exciting as their alcoholic counterparts.

Seasonal Specials

Rotate your Happy Hour specials based on the season. For example, offer warm, spiced drinks in the winter and refreshing, fruity cocktails in the summer.

"Happy Hour Hero" Drink

Introduce a "Happy Hour Hero" drink special where a portion of the proceeds from that drink goes to a local charity or cause. This not only promotes goodwill but also encourages patrons to support a good cause while enjoying their time.

Bucket Deals

For groups, offer bucket deals on beers or small bottled cocktails. This encourages sharing and increases sales volume during Happy Hour.

Grow Orders, Save Time & Eliminate Tablet Chaos

Integrate your delivery apps and online orders with your POS and consolidate them into a single tablet. Helping you reduce order issues, grow your sales, and eliminate delivery headaches.

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