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Happy hours bring in customers to F-M bars

FARGO - The state of Utah rang in 2012 by making daily drink specials at bars illegal. Seriously. The law, which goes into effect this year, is basically banning the long-standing tradition of happy hour. But Utah's not the first state to take aw...

FARGO - The state of Utah rang in 2012 by making daily drink specials at bars illegal.

Seriously.

The law, which goes into effect this year, is basically banning the long-standing tradition of happy hour.

But Utah's not the first state to take away this daily rite of relaxation. That dubious honor goes to Massachusetts, which banned happy hours in 1984. Other states have since followed.

Thankfully, we're not living in Utah or Massachusetts. Our Fargo-Moorhead bars, restaurants, pubs and watering holes offer a wide variety of daily drink specials for happy hour that are not only legal but also easy on the wallet.

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Last week at Sidestreet Grille & Pub in Fargo, one of many F-M-area establishments that offer a happy hour, Lynette Krutsinger and Julie Nygaard of Fargo and Myrna Tonsfeldt of West Fargo were all enjoying a happy hour beer, something they've been doing for years.

All three women work downtown, and Sidestreet's location makes for a convenient post-work drink at least once a week, they say.

The happy hour specials, which kick in at 2 p.m. and run until 7 p.m. on weekdays, certainly don't hurt either. Domestic bottles are $2.75, pints are $2.50, pitchers are a dollar off and all other beers and spirits are 50 cents off.

"The drinks are very affordable," Nygaard says.

Happy hour food specials, too, often attract customers to restaurants, says Haley Kroshus, a bartender at Vic's Bar & Grill in Moorhead. There, a $2.99 hamburger and fries deal Monday through Friday accompanies everyday $2.50 domestic bottle specials. And starting at 9 p.m., pitchers cost $5.50.

"Between 4 and 7 we get pretty busy. That's definitely our busiest time," Kroshus says. "We sell lots of burger baskets."

Along those lines, half-price appetizers are a common deal at several area happy hours. At the four Applebee's locations in Fargo, customers can get half-price apps, in addition to dollar-off beers, Long Island teas and wine from 3 to 6 p.m. and again from 9 p.m. to close.

Bob Wieben, manager of the Applebee's on 45th Street South, says the food specials typically draw in customers, but the drink specials don't hurt either.

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"People come for the food; then they start drinking after they start eating," he says.

At the Speak Easy in Moorhead, where happy hour runs Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m., customers will find a different food special each day, along with two-for-one drinks. Monday, for example, has half-priced apps, while Friday features dollar tacos.

More than just the food or the drink specials though, many customers might prefer one particular happy hour over another because they know the bartenders and the bartenders know them.

That, says Jim Mercil, owner of the Speak

Easy, is something that establishments take seriously. In the case of the Speak Easy, regulars to happy hour enjoy the restaurant's cozy atmosphere.

"It's just a place to come and relax," Mercil says.

It's the same at the Sidestreet, too, where bartender Jacob Johnson says happy hour is often frequented by the same people.

"We have a lot of working-class businesspeople who cut out of work at 4," he says. "We have a lot of regulars."

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Count Nygaard, Krutsinger and Tonsfeldt among them. Coming to happy hour at Sidestreet for as long as they have, the trio has struck up good friendships with the

bar's staff.

"Coming here is kind of like home," Nygaard says. "It's our own little 'Cheers' bar."

"I like it when people know me when I walk in," Krutsinger says.

Sometimes, Johnson says, atmosphere is even more important to customers than the drink specials themselves.

"I don't know if happy hours sway people's drinking decisions," he says. "They seem to drink what they want whether it's cheap or not cheap."

Maybe that's true, and maybe people just prefer happy hours that are closest to them. Or maybe it's a combination of location and the specials. Whichever you prefer, there are certainly plenty of options throughout the metro area.

Luckily, several websites - like fmbars.com or dailyhappyhour.com - help list those happy hours in Fargo-Moorhead and can help you narrow down the choices or find your own place where everybody knows your name.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535


Cheers!

While we haven't been to every happy hour in Fargo-Moorhead, here is a selection of bars with some happy hours that piqued our interest.

For information on more F-M happy hours, call local bars or visit websites like http://www.fmbars.com or http://www.happy-hour.com/ .

Applebee's

(Several locations in Fargo); 3 to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close; half-price appetizers, a dollar off domestic talls, Long Island teas and house wines.

Bison Turf

1211 N. University Drive, Fargo; 4 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; $1.50 off appetizers, $2.75 wells, $2.75 domestic bottles, $3.75 premium bottles or pints, $6.25 domestic pitchers.

Rhombus Guys Pizza

606 Main Ave., Fargo; 3 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; $2 off mugs of beer, a dollar off pints of beer and a dollar off single-shot drinks.

Sidestreet Grille & Pub

301 3rd Ave. N., Fargo; 2 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; $2.50 domestic pints, $2.75 domestic bottles, a dollar off all pitchers and half-price appetizers.

Bar Nine

1440 Prairie Parkway, West Fargo; 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; a dollar off everything and half-price appetizers.

Speak Easy

1001 30th Ave. S., Moorhead; 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; two-for-one drink specials, plus food specials every day (check before you go).

Vic's Bar & Grill

512 Center Ave., Moorhead; 4 to 7 p.m. every day; $2.50 domestics, $2.75 well drinks, $2.99 hamburger and fries basket (5 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays) and $5.50 pitchers (9 p.m. to close, Sundays through Fridays)

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