The New Happy Hour 
Lisa Pope-Westerman in Hospitality, Restaurants

The nature of bars and clubs, and the expectations of their patrons, has changed over the years. The days of Cheers are long gone. Back then, bars were purely for alcoholic consumption and you were lucky if you got some peanuts or chips at the bar. On the flip side, you had your typical meat markets that were purely for temporary social interaction.

Today, it’s tough to find a place “where everybody knows your name” – but that is not the point anymore. These days, people want more from the bars they frequent. They want flexibility. They want to the ability to sit alone, with a small group, a large group, have a small party or a big party. They want to drink but they also want to eat. They want a menu comparable to a neighborhood restaurant. They want servers that don’t just memorize the menu, but have in-depth knowledge about what they are serving.

The economy is also playing a role on the success of these venues – in a good way. In today’s more cost-conscious society, going out for a cocktail is less of a commitment than going out for a big dinner, and offers the ability to relax and wind down from the day to day stresses that have been elevated due to the current economic environment.

With all these changes in consumer behavior and preferences, what is happening to design? Together with Ross Conway of Gensler’s Dallas office, I will be exploring how these new ideas are reflected in the physical space at this year’s HD Boutique in Miami. We’ll share some insights on what we’ve seen in the marketplace, including how the changing bar scene is creating hot new opportunities for profitability, high visibility, and extreme flexibility in hospitality.

If you are attending HD Boutique this year, come join us on Tuesday, September 14, 2010, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm at the Miami Beach Convention Center. If you can’t make it to Miami this time, stay tuned and we’ll run a recap of the presentations and discuss highlights of the show afterwards.

Until then – cheers!

Lisa Pope-Westerman is a design director in Gensler’s Houston office. Her background includes 15 years design experience on a variety of projects including restaurants, retail, and hospitality. Contact her at
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