Happening Happy Hour Promotions: Real-time R&D

During happy hour, Seattle’s Spur Gastropub offers patrons something they may never have again — depending, of course, on their own response.

“The promotion doesn’t really have a name,” explains bartender Kevin Langmack, “but basically our two chefs use happy hour as a testing ground for the food menu.”

The chefs come up with interesting new dishes in bite size portions that are served Sunday through Thursday from 5 - 7 p.m. Ranging from $3 to $5, these mini bites are listed on a giant chalkboard, and the bartenders usually get in on the action with cocktail pairings.

“We play around with drinks priced at $6 during this time, and since normally they are $8 to $10, people are more willing to try them out. A week or two ago, the chefs made a blackberry sorbet, and I went in the kitchen, got blackberries and did a whiskey blackberry smash,” Langmack explains.

Comment cards are given to each guest who orders off the happy hour testing menu, and in addition to getting a feel for what might work as a permanent addition to the menu, the staff also gains valuable knowledge for future marketing purposes such as e-mail and mailing addresses. Additionally, the manager in charge of Spur’s Facebook page uses this information to find customers on Facebook and request them as friends for the restaurant.

“A lot of the regulars for this happy hour are industry regulars,” he continues. “They come in to take a dinner break during these hours. I’d say 75 percent of these dishes have morphed into something that ends up on the menu. This has been going on since last November, and Seattle is such a happy hour town that you have to have one. But this has been truly great for business.”


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