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Sign of the times: Restaurant Drink Specials

Sign of the times: Restaurant Drink Specials

Consumers are down in the dumps about the tough economic times we are in and restaurant owners are not happy. As this recession continues restaurant owners are seeing an increase in alcohol sales. This is a good thing right? Not so fast.


People are going out more and more during the times that restaurants have their happy hour and/or extended specials and are looking to save as much as they can.

“We don’t see a change in what people are drinking as much as seeing a change in the time they are drinking,” said Kip Snider, beverage director for the Yard House chain of restaurants.

Still, a growing reliance on happy hour — as well as a “reverse” happy hour with the same specials from 10 p.m. to midnight Sundays to Wednesdays — is not a bad strategy.

“In times like this, the bar business should take on more of a focal point for restaurants because of the incremental profit that comes with each sale,” Henkes said.

Restaurants net about 15 cents for every dollar of food purchased but 38 cents for alcohol, Henkes said. So it makes sense for casual dining spots, in particular, to pitch booze.

Alcohol typically is a pretty recession-proof item but due to marketing strategies put in place when the economy was stronger may places seem to be taking a hit. When putting specials (drink or food) in place it is important to keep your costs in check. The “specials” do a great job to bring in customers during an otherwise slow period.

The cutback in beverage revenue comes as customers eat at home more often, putting restaurants in one of the most severe slumps the industry has faced in decades.

During times like this restaurants should but extra emphasis on food sales for an incremental profit that comes with each sale.

Here’s some recommended ways to help jump start your sales:

1. Arrange a meet up or event. Go to sites such as http://www.meetup.com. Come up with a cleaver themed event and post it on that site. Making it relevant to your establishment is a great way to target potential customers that have never hear of your place. Example: If you have a Golf themed restaurant or bar (or even decorated that way) set up a local golfers meet up or get in contact with a local golf club to arrange for a meet up.

2. Give out samples. Great customer service goes a long way. Some times people are afraid to even try new things. Walking around giving samples of food or drinks to patrons will give them a chance to fall in love with a food/drink they never imagined trying.


3. Add pairings & photos to your menu. Give recommendations for what food/dessert and drinks go well together. This is a great way to increase average profit per ticket. Also hire a photographer to photograph the pairing and put it on your menu. Food photos is a great way to give customers of a preview of a dish.

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