The traditional happy hour has evolved significantly from its humble beginnings as an incentive for workingmen who have just gotten off shift to stop at local taverns before going home. Designed to coincide with the end of the average workday, happy hour proved to be such a success that it wasn't long before most establishments that served liquor adopted the tradition in some form. They also began to offer salty snacks such as chips or pretzels in order to increase thirst among patrons and therefore drive up sales. The bowl of chips, pretzels, or popcorn has since evolved in most places to include items such as hot wings, sliders, and miniature fajitas.
Bar and restaurant owners have discovered that offering quality happy hour snacks is good for business in more ways than one. If the establishment also serves dinner, it introduces bar patrons to menu items that may provide them with incentive to stay for dinner. It may also serve to encourage people to order full plates once they get a taste of the kitchen fare.
In today's climate, it's also important to prevent patrons from becoming intoxicated while on the premises, which one of the main reasons why locales offering happy hour San Diego frequently feature many different snack items.
Happy hour food should be easily eaten with the fingers and not too messy. Hot wings are the preferred appetizer of choice for many sports bars, and they are inexpensive enough so that they can be served in abundance. However, they are rather messy, and bars that include them in their happy hour offerings must be prepared to hand out lots of napkins. A better choice might be chicken nuggets that can be eaten with toothpicks and dipped into barbecue sauce if so desired.
Although some restaurants go all out by providing actual happy hour buffets, most have found it's better to reach a happy medium between the humble bowl of chips and a full buffet. The cost of providing an in-house happy hour buffet usually has to be supplemented by raising drink prices. This practice may result in customers being alienated because it defeats the whole purpose of happy hour. Most establishments have found that offering two or three items during happy hour satisfies customers and keeps kitchen costs at reasonable levels.