It's rolling out Happy Hours with bargain prices on booze and appetizers in the midst of an industrywide slowdown.
While places such as T.G.I. Friday's have long offered Happy Hour-type deals, some of the more prestigious places — includingThe Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang's andRuby Tuesday— have recently latched onto Happy Hours as a way to attract new business from a recession-weary public that's eating out less.
"It's all about butts in seats," says Sandy Beall, founder of Ruby Tuesday.
In December, Ruby Tuesday began charging $5 all day for bar drinks (vs. up to $8), and began selling most Happy Hour appetizers at a $2 discount.
"Everybody is looking for a deal," says restaurant consultant Howard Gordon. Restaurants and bars like them because they lure traffic at hours (often 3 to 6 p.m.) when business typically is slow.
Others chains in the mix:
•Cheesecake Factory. After 31 years, the chain just began to roll out its first Happy Hour. It'll be in most locations by March 18. "We've all been hit by the economy," says Mark Mears, marketing chief. "We have to be sensitive to those with less discretionary income."
The Happy Hour is Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. in the bar area. Some 16 appetizers are available, and specialty cocktails are $5 each. That includes a margarita (normally $8.95) and Hot Spinach and Cheese Dip (normally $10.50).
•P.F. Chang's. In January, the chain went national with a Happy Hour promo that it had previously tested in parts of Oregon and Arizona. The promo offers drinks and appetizers priced at $3 to $6 from 3 to 6 p.m.
•Morton's Steak House. The fine-dining chain rolled out Power Hour in the bar area in 2009. Bar Bites such as sliders fetch $5, and beer is $4. "It allows guests to drink and eat for around $25," says Edie Ames, president.