Our readers respond: A ‘not so happy hour’ my ass!

When we began developing the concepts behind The Rail it was our hope that the readers of our content would also create some of it. Well, it didn’t take long a subscriber to rock our world with an incredibly thoughtful and thorough response to one of our recent posts. 

On March 11th we published a piece called A Not So ‘Happy Hour’ that was read an enormous number of times. The post focused on a negative guest experience with the arbitrary rules set by restaurants for their happy hours. 

As it turns out, one of you took issue with our assertion and shot back with an articulate rebuff that asks a simple question, “If it’s my business, don’t I get to set the rules?” 

Natalia Calabria delivered a wonderful wake up call to all of us at The Rail and it was simple and tasteful in its form. Below is the complete text of her comment. Suffice to say, we are offering it now because we were sufficiently impressed and needed to show both sides of this very real conflict in your restaurants. The comments are unedited except for some grammatical conventions and they deserve a few minutes of your time.

What about the business?

As a frequent restaurant customer as well as a restaurateur, I can appreciate the value in bending over backwards to ensure my guests leave happy. Poor word of mouth marketing is the fastest spreading kind of advertising and it should be avoided as often as possible.

That being said, what ever happened to following rules set by businesses? Why does everyone feel the need, nowadays, to challenge authority, rules, guidelines, etc. just for the sake of getting what is best for them as an individual at that moment? Do you go into your local grocery store and argue that you should receive Buy One Get One Free on Milk because Milk is what you need, instead of the advertised special of BOGO Free on Canola Oil?

My restaurant began a "bar only" happy hour years ago to build bar business during our slow time of 3pm - 5pm Mon-Fri. We serve happy hour until 6pm in the bar where I offer half price drinks. My dining room always fills up at the start of dinner between 5pm and 6pm which is why I was not interested in running a promotion in my dining room as it would only lose me revenue. Even though restaurants are viewed as fun and social, it is still a business for me so I need to make business conscious decisions. After all, my landlord does not ever offer me a "Happy Hour" special on my rent....ever.

If my bar is full and a guest wants 1/2 price drinks, they should wait for a bar table to open up or have a drink standing (God forbid these days). If I seat this guest in my dining room to enjoy their 1/2 price drink and $5 dish of happy hour food, I am losing revenue considering the alternative is seating a guest at that dining room table who will spend full price on a drink and at least $20 on an entrée.

My suggestion to happy hour guests: Get to your favorite happy hour spot early! Or maybe don't plan on being able to enjoy happy hour specials if your time constraints do not allow you to wait. Why must this sour your view of the establishment? They are offering a nice deal that has interested you, as well as many others. Do they deserve to lose your business because they are running a successful promotion that has achieved their sales goals?

My suggestion to said “happy hour” goers is to get to your favorite happy hour spot early or be prepared to wait for a table if that establishment's bar is busy. After all, they are likely in business and not one of the many restaurants that closes if they are busy and demand is high. Try to remember that a restaurant is also a business and if the only goal was to make customers happy without a business plan, the doors would likely close.

Natalia Calabria


We can’t thank Natalia enough for taking the time to share her opinion and experience. We hope this will alert all of you that The Rail is the place for sharing your opinions and having them really heard. We welcome anyone who believes they have a voice to share it with us and we will share the best of it with all of you.

So contact us with your ideas, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and we will give them a place to reside and be heard!