A site I found today is Unthirsty.com (oddly enough, I found it while reading a Webmonkey post on forum avatars). It allows users to enter happy hour information by area (no information on Great Falls, Montana, so I guess it’s time for me to do some research — sweet!!).
So here, without further ado, is a summary of 10 Tips to get the most from Happy Hour. I would highly recommend you go read the whole thing if you are a happy hour connoisseur.
1. Tip like it’s full price, or better.
This is the most important take-away from the list, so it’s all the way at the top. . . Also, if you make sure your servers are happy, they’ll make sure your happy hour is all it can be.
2. Know the specials.
. . . Ideally, you’ll know the special before you arrive, but if not, don’t be afraid to ask. Be direct, ask what the specials are, and if there are any requirements. . . . BONUS: Being prepared to order right away will give you that much more time to enjoy the special, as well as shows respect for the wait-staff’s time.
3. Know the cocktail waiter/waitress.
The difference between a good waitress and a bad waitress can really be the difference at a happy hour. . . .
4. Know what time it is.
. . . So, be aware of the clock, know when the specials end, and how often your waitress comes by. Do not miss out because you were chatting.
5. Don’t be afraid to approach the bartender.
If you failed to recognize what type of server you have, and almost lost track of time, this tip is your last resort. . . . Bypassing waitresses can be received differently at different establishments, so be careful and make sure you tip generously to make up for oversights.
6. All specials are not created equal.
A $4 burger with fries is a much better deal than a $3 burger without. . . . It’s all about knowing what you get when you order, and to not let price alone dictate how good a special is.
7. Be mindful of seating capacity.
. . . If you’ve got a crowd, go to crowd friendly places . . .
8. Be prepared with cash.
. . . with people rotating in and out of the group over the course of an hour or two, often with wildly different purchases. Nothing is more annoying that trying to figure out a bill split between 11 people, who’ve been there any length of time, drinking and eating at different intervals. It annoys the waitress, which will definitely impact service. . . Let someone else do that as you throw down your $20 bill to cover your $16 order, and cool like a cucumber walk out the door.
9. Go at off times.
. . . you get a better experience if you Happy Hour at off-times as well. Pick nights that are going to be less crowded . . .Service is better, it’s quieter, and often the drinks are stiffer because the bartender is in a better mood. They’re also looking to maximize their tips, so they’re going to be extra nice.
10. If you’re sitting down, you should be ordering.
. . . it’s only fair to at least order something while you’re taking up space at a waitress’s table. . . . It’s just courteous.
If you look at what parts I excerpted, it’s probably obvious I’m biased towards being nice to your server. And one of the reasons I recommend this article so highly is because the original author Jason Glaspey is also very biased towards being nice to servers.
Being nice to servers is SOOOOO important, and it’s both pathetic and infuriating how often people ignore this. I’ve had servers remember me by face and even some details about my orders after just two visits because I make the effort to be nice, ask how they are doing, and tip well. I’ve talked to numerous former servers who have told me that as a server, they REALLY notice who is a nice customer and a good tipper, and who isn’t, and the servers will let each other know who is nice and who is a pain.
I honestly cannot count how many times I’ve had a cruddy day and have had my entire lifted because I walked into one of my regular places and a server came up to me with a big smile on their face and told me they were happy to see me. This has happened everywhere from small and cheap Mexican restaurants to mid-level places like Chili’s to fancy places like the Cattlemen’s Cut near Great Falls. Even if I order cheap specials each time and maybe only one or two drinks, the fact that I am nice, polite, courteous, and tip well still makes a HUGE difference to servers. They deal with jerks all day, it makes their day that someone gives a damn and is nice, and that in turn makes my day. It’s a win-win situation all around. 🙂