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Orlando, Fla.-based Smokey Bones has experienced similar sales bumps during events. The chain began heavily marketing late-night deals about two years ago. Now, event-driven late-night sales are the fastest-growing aspect of the company, said chief executive Chris Artinian.

“It’s really about creating some fun after 10 o’clock and pairing it with great food and drinks,” he said.

Smokey Bones

“The daypart of late night for us is just continuing to get stronger and stronger,” said Roger Drake, senior vice president of marketing at Smokey Bones.

Trivia, DJs and karaoke are mainstays at many of Smokey Bones’ 66 locations, he said, with live concerts a secondary event stream. Although he couldn’t share specific sales numbers, Artinian said concerts and in-restaurant events “absolutely” increases traffic.

“We have seen positive comps grow every single month,” he said of the late-night program.

Late-night menus emphasize beer, appetizers

Appetizers and alcoholic beverages sell well during late night, Duke said, adding that it is important to create a targeted, consumer-friendly menu.

Hard Rock Cafe, Smokey Bones and Wild Wing Cafe all oblige consumers’ desires with late-night menus and drink specials. Tapas, snacks and beer reign supreme during later hours.

Although Smokey Bones’ full menu is available until closing time at 2 a.m., the chain also offers a late-night menu with $4, $5 and $6 appetizers alongside specialty beers and cocktails, Artinian said. Popular items include signature smoked chicken wings, kettle chips, and pulled pork sandwiches.

Smokey Bones is also testing a tapas menu, which is expected to resonate with the late-night crowd. “It’s really making sure that we keep the menu fresh and the events fresh and new,” Artinian said.

At Wild Wing Cafe, lighter fare sells well late, alongside a “fair amount of alcohol,” Prather said. “We have a bar menu available that’s mostly snack-type items. The full menu is also available.”

Hard Rock Cafe partners with beverage companies, such as Heineken, on some programs, like its Pinktober event, which supports breast cancer awareness, Buell said. Otherwise, it’s a lot of “appetizer-type stuff,” he said.

“We’ve experimented with a tapas-style menu,” Buell said. “It’s more of a beer focus.”

Contact Erin Dostal at erin.dostal@penton.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @ErinDostal