There’s no question as to whether or not consumers like deals, especially on food and beverages. Whether it’s ads on social media or coupons in the mail, getting a discounted meal may be more exciting than a trip to the grocery store to pick up ingredients to cook your own lunch or dinner. Many years ago it seems that mom and pop restaurants advertised Early Bird Specials to entice consumers to show up before the busy dinner hours and receive 3 or 4 course meals including soup or salad and dessert for a price that would entice a mostly older clientele to skip lunch and just go for an early dinner instead. Today, we see this less and less as restaurants are more likely to sell entrees, appetizers, and desserts as separate menu items. If you know where to look, have flexibility of dining hours and enjoy a cocktail or other alcoholic beverage with your meal, you can easily dine out on a budget by taking advantage of Happy Hour specials.
Unlike Early Bird Specials, Happy Hour is a great excuse to get together with friends (or strangers) at neighborhood bars and restaurants. Happy Hours often create a more social and relaxed atmosphere, making them attractive to people who enjoy socializing with friends, coworkers, or meeting new people. Unlike Early Bird Dinners, the addition of discounted drinks to the Happy Hour menu along with small bites can easily enhance the social experience, making it more appealing to certain demographics of our population.
Since Happy Hours typically occur in the early evening or late afternoon, they can serve as a great way for individuals to unwind after work rather than rush home. Also, in this day and age of many of us working from home, it might be the perfect excuse to leave the home office and see people face to face instead of behind computer screens for a change.
Unlike Early Bird Specials, Happy Hours usually emphasize drink specials, which can be more appealing to those who enjoy a good cocktail, craft beer or glass of red or white wine. As inflationary pressures have increased the prices of almost everything, it’s good to know which specific items or brands are on your favorite restaurants’ Happy Hour menu. Sometimes showing up a few minutes early to “beat the clock” can make a huge dent in your bill at the end of the night.
If you’re going to opt for Happy Hour over Early Bird Dinner, be prepared to make a meal by combining multiple appetizers rather than ordering a full entree. Portions will inevitably be smaller so ordering just one item on the Happy Hour menu may not be enough to satisfy a hungry appetite. However, if you invite a friend and order several items, you can eat “tapas style” then split the bill.
Another advantage of ordering appetizers over a full meal is that you get to try menu items you might not normally have ordered and if you don’t like something, you’re not out as much as you would be if it were a complete entree. On the other hand, you may discover some new items to add to your repertoire. It’s also a great way to experience dining at certain establishments which would otherwise be completely out of budget for a regular weekday meal as opposed to a special occasion.
As you can see, there are many reasons to look for a Happy Hour menu as opposed to an Early Bird Special as you walk by neighborhood bar and grills, taverns, and restaurants but it’s definitely not for everyone. Hopefully, you’ll discover new places to go, new foods to try and support a local business that can give back to your community in so many ways.
Here are some resources for discovering Happy Hour specials throughout South Florida: