Left Bank, A West Village NYC Bistro, Offers A Different Kind Of Happy Hour: Early Dinner Specials

Food & Drink

For many independent restaurants, happy hour means reduced priced cocktails, wine or beer, sometimes with free hors d’oeuvres added. But at Left Bank, a seasonal farm-to-table bistro located in the West Village in New York City, happy hour dinner specials have been luring in crowds in the early evening from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekly and 4-6 weekends.

“The busiest time for most restaurants is between 7 to 9 p.m. so when we can fill seats with a big turn before the 7 o’clock hour, it really helps to bulk up sales,” explained Danielle Avvento, its general manager. Happy hour dinner specials, she said, “are a great way to get guests in for that first turn of the night.”

Chain restaurants such as Olive Garden and Chart House have traditionally highlighted early bird specials, but it’s much less common for upscale independents such as Left Bank.

But an independent French bistro Left Bank, located in the West Village in New York City, has discovered that offering early dinner discounts, some accompanied with wine or beer, has a way of attracting a crowd.

The Happy Hour Specials

Left Bank offers three distinct happy hour specials: 1) two appetizers for $25, which can include a dozen oysters, a deal since most appetizers cost $17 to $22; 2) a burger, fries and a glass of beer for $25, cheaper than its usually $27 burger price; 3) a pasta such as gnocchi or tagliatelle Bolognese with a glass of wine for $25, where pastas cost $26 to $28 each on the dinner menu.

When Left Bank first opened, it offered these dinner specials but stopped running them during the pandemic when take-out and delivery prevailed. “Once the city lifted Covid restrictions and indoor dining was back and running at full capacity, we knew it was time to bring it back,” Avvento declared.

The restaurant is owned and operated by Micheline Gaulin and chef Laurence Edelman, who devised the happy hour specials with Avvento.

These early dining deals also help Left Bank appeal to the growing sober and sober curious moment, said Avvento. “We wanted to make sure we have something for everyone,” she added.

Guests at Left Bank order these dinner specials in a variety of ways. Avvento says the two appetizer specials are the most popular and frequently groups share the two appetizers to start and then order the burger or pasta specials for their main course.

“We have some higher priced options so to offer discount on some things invites a broader audience,” she added.

Appealing to Different Segments

For example, some younger people who aren’t making exorbitant incomes have been frequenting the restaurant. And seniors who prefer dining early are also attracted to the happy hour specials. Hence, its happy hour special cuts across various age groups.

“Coming out of the pandemic, it’s a quick and easy dinner that doesn’t break the bank, and you can get out with a glass of wine or pasta, and we’re happy to offer that,” she said.

It also created a special chicken to go service, called Poulet Sans Tete, which is French for chicken without its head (a kind of an inside joke) where guests can order rotisserie chicken online, even either half or whole and have it delivered via several third-party deliverers.

The dinner is accompanied by salad, soup, sides and sauces. It recently opened a separate take-out shop Poulet San Tete on the Upper West Side, which includes 20 counter seats, and has its own menu, not connected with Left Bank.

Yelp reviewers are responding

Many Yelp responders reacted positively to its happy hour dinner deals. Lara from New York City said, her burger was cooked “perfectly to my request,” and was a deal in the happy hour special. Rose from New York was more muted however, saying “the food was okay but for the price, the location and deal can’t be beat. Split the Bolognese and burger with fries. The burger was a little burnt but you could tell the pasta was homemade.”

“Our goal is to be a neighborhood restaurant and we want to be that place to hang out at, have a glass of wine, or dinner at the bar, or dining outside. We want to have something for everyone,” Avvento declared.

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