(picture courtesy of Dyna Moe)
Would you like a hot dog with your martini?
Let's face it: Happy hour is nothing without the deals on bar foods that pace the drinks served. Sure, we've all eagerly ordered that half-price plate of stale nachos or giant bowl of 10-cent wing goodness, but what if you could order exotic fare for cheap, like white polenta agnolotti in a green garlic sauce -- prepared by a world-renowned chef?
Well, your dreams of half-priced sautéed foie gras with sunchokes and watercress are now a full-fledged reality (thank you, economy!). Around the country, restaurant owners -- who are quickly losing money as restaurent goers dwindle -- are converting restaurants into glorified bars, which means top chefs are serving up bar snacks like grilled cheese sandwiches and hot dogs alongside cheaper exotic fare, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Why? The WSJ reports that while consumer spending at restaurants is falling precipitously, drink orders, particularly for cheaper drinks like beer, are barely dropping off (no surprise). For restaurants, it's now proving more cost-effective to serve lower-priced dishes that diners can munch on as they buy drinks.
According to the Journal, selling alcohol, and cocktails in particular, is typically a better business than selling restaurant food because the margins are higher. While ingredient costs may account for as much as 35% of the price of an entrée in a high-end restaurant, they typically only account for about 14% of the price of a cocktail or 25% of the price of a glass of wine. And since restaurants are already paying to run a kitchen, selling additional, easy-to-make food is simply an extra revenue stream (obvis).
So, just how succulent a feast can you afford the next time you saddle up to a bar with your friends (and thirst) in tow? If you swing by Alain Ducasse's Benoit bistro in New York, for example, you can now order dishes like "mini BB sliders" -- blood sausage on a bun with apple marmalade -- for $7. Not bad, especially since I do have a thing for apple marmalade. But even better? The cheapest dish on Ducasse's recently added bar menu is $1 deviled eggs. How very retro! The kitsch factor alone is worth the money.