Back in the day, late 80’s and early 90’s, Happy Hour was quite an event in restaurant bars. In addition to drink specials, there would be food, a lot of food. A spread of appetizers would be displayed on one or two large tables. You could actually make a dinner of it. This was true in Southern California, particularly at Mexican restaurants, as well as in my hometown.
This was life before children for my groups of friends in both locations. A few of us, or a lot of us, could meet any weekday after work for libations and hors d’oeuvres. This was well before cell phones, so you would actually have to communicate ahead of time about where to gather. Happy hour might last much longer than the free food; we were young and there was no one at home waiting for dinner!
Coming of age during those days, one took for granted that putting out tables of free food was de rigueur for nice bars. We didn’t expect the same at the Come Inn tavern, Ichabod’s, or other dive bars, but it was standard practice at dinner establishments.
There was quite a long break during which my hometown group stopped frequenting happy hours, as we all had babies in our early 30’s. It had been a good run, though. Those years with small children feel like they’re going to last forever, but they do pass.
Imagine my confusion when I turned out for happy hour eventually, and the most one could hope for was popcorn, tortilla chips, or nuts! Now, there were happy hour menus with discounted appetizers from which to order, and we had to pay! Where was all the free food???
Looking back, I can certainly understand why the practice was discontinued. It must have cost a pretty penny for all those places to put out a party of food each weekday, but it definitely made the hour(s) less happy. We didn’t stay as long because, well, now there were people at home wanting to eat dinner, and my friends and I weren’t filling up for free. Young people today don’t know what they missed.
Yesterday evening, I had happy hour with one friend who lives on the other side of the county and another who lives on the other side of the state. It was a Zoom get together. We each had a drink. We talked and laughed for 40 minutes. It was great! I must say, though, there was no fancy layout of free food; in fact, there was nothing to eat at all. Still, it was the best happy hour I’ve had in a very long time!