Helping Restaurants Be More Profitable


3 Keys to Happy Hour at Your Restaurant

publication date: Apr 4, 2017

Friends, beer & pizza

Drinks with friends and bar snacks are at the top of everyone's list after a long day or week at work – but deciding where to go among an increasing number of options often leads to decision paralysis.

One of the easiest ways to narrow down the choices is to choose a bar with happy hour specials. Though loved by consumers, many bar owners struggle with the hassle of creating a separate happy hour menu. What they don't know is that happy hours really do pay off.

CAKE, an integrated point of sale platform for independent restaurants, took a look at 400 bars with and without happy hours to see how they stacked up. As if anyone needed another reason to go to happy hour, CAKE can now confirm that amongst the many Goliath-like bars that bring in the big bucks, smaller bars with less consistent success (a.k.a. the Davids) can still become the heroes of happy hour. During the month of February alone, bars with happy hours had 33 percent higher transactions than those without the popular feature.

Here are more takeaways and tips from CAKE for happy hour success:

  • Happy Hours generate revenue, period: Bars with happy hours generate more revenue and more transactions than those without it during those hours. In fact, on average bars with happy hour see average revenue 26 percent higher during peak happy hours than their non-happy hour counterparts, along with an average of 24 percent more transactions.


  • Size doesn't matter: In fact, even smaller bars utilizing CAKE technology end up generating more revenue during happy hour than bars that typically out-perform them, but don't have a separate happy hour. Even non-happy hour bars that typically generated more overall revenue (by about 10 percent) were outperformed by their happy hour competition by more than 20 percent during happy hours. Happy hour gives smaller bars, in particular, a major advantage.


  • Seven equals success: The busiest happy hour, 7-8 p.m., sees the largest average revenue and average transactions for bars both with and without happy hour. Consumers should look to earlier slots during happy hour for less crowded bars, and bar owners should take note of when staffing needs will be highest or consider ending happy hour an hour earlier to capitalize on what is already a high-traffic time for the business.