What has more than 2,500 followers on Twitter, hundreds of reviews posted online and loves happy hour more than anyone on the beach? MyrtleBeachHappyHour.com’s founder and main contributor, Matt Cayuela.
Since he started the Happy Hour review site in 2005, Cayuela has made it his mission to provide a place for people to check out the happy hour offerings from one central Web site. Giving detailed pricing information, product descriptions and ambiance reviews of nearly every bar or restaurant on the beach is what he is all about. He says, “I hate going to the same place over and over again” and this brought about his passion for driving beyond his neighborhood bar to get the scoop on new places, old places and places that you would not expect to have happy hour at all.
While happy hour, as a period of entertainment, is as old as William Shakespeare’s “King Henry the V,” the modern term only nods back to the Prohibition era as a drinking before dinner event. I went to the source of knowledge to talk about what is happening with our local happy hours and where we can help expand them.
“The best trend is that every place is getting into the act with happy hour. From your hole-in-the wall bars, to your fine dining places and even the large chains,” was the response to what he likes most about his job. Cayuela is all about having choices when you go out and finds that a majority of places are offering some type of happy hour.
In fact, variety is the one thing that Cayuela says makes a great happy hour. Options are the golden ticket to providing something for everyone. He likes to see options outside of fried food, such as vegetarian choices or fresh items when it comes to happy hour munchies. The drinks do well when you have discounted options in most categories, including wine, beer and cocktails. The best happy hours will discount their craft beers, martinis and specialty drinks. Cayuela says that this is vital in appeasing “any group of people who will, in turn, recommend your place to others.” After all, that is what happy hour is all about. It is marketing to people during a time when business is slow. Maybe you are serving people who would not normally visit your bar.
One of the most intuitive parts of our conversation was that this is not all about getting a good deal, but more about supporting local business. “People need to realize that, if a place has a really cheap happy hour, they are not making any money and are, most likely, losing money. They still need to support these businesses outside of happy hour so that they can stay in business.” Coming from the man that, admittedly, goes to happy hour more than anyone, this is very good to hear. We live in a market where cheap triumphs over quality almost every day of the week and that is a real shame. Some good places go out of business because we only support them when they are cheap. Happy hour, buy-one-get-one and other similar promotional time frames are all great for us and our wallets, but the local business landscape needs us during the times of usual operations to create a long life in our community.
Adding to the things that may make happy hour better is the fact that the state dictates when you can discount your prices - 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. is the time that happy hour must occur. Cayuela thinks that making each place determine the hours for discounts would make for a more diverse happy hour landscape. Most of the service industry is working during these times, barring the day off. We could, potentially, see some really good late night spots if they could discount their menus at various times. In fact, some do this, but make themselves a target of S.L.E.D. (South Carolina Law Enforcement Division).
If you have not visited www.myrtlebeachhappyhour.com, you will find it very easy to navigate based on location, time and style, created and maintained by someone actually living in our community. You will not see tourist rants, outside opinions or vague assumptions from Cayuela and his small and secretive crew. You will find honest facts about our local happy hour scene and some informative opinions that go along with it.
It is not often that I endorse sites that offer ratings on restaurants. This particular site is on my phone and I use it all the time. I believe that the information runs deeper than happy hour. We can all judge a restaurant by the happy hour options. These ratings coupled with the honest reviews in regard to service, ambiance and quality make for something that has no limit as to the value that it may hold for our beach. We preach about buying local all the time, yet we educate ourselves with sites that are made so far from our city that there is no local voice involved at all. This site is a the real deal when it comes to great, useful information created by one of our own. Support our local innovators, restaurants and people.