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P.F. Chang’s expands happy hour menu

More casual-dining chains emphasizing their bar specials

As more casual-dining restaurants promote their bars, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc. has expanded its happy hour special with new menu items, including Asian “street fare.”

The 201-unit P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, which has offered a happy hour deal since last June, recently added such offerings as a mandarin-champagne cocktail and dumpling varieties to its “Triple Happiness” menu available from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Drink specials range from $3 to $6 for beers, sakes and wines as well as signature cocktails, such as the new mandarin-champagne cocktail and an Asian pear mojito.

“Street Fare” bar items range from $3 to $4.95 and include:

• Tuna Tataki Crisp with sliced ahi tuna, seared rare, on a crisp wonton and topped with cucumber and scallions tossed in a citrus-sesame soy sauce
• Four Asian street tacos: beef, spicy shrimp, pork and mahi mahi, each topped with chopped vegetables and herbs in a flour tortilla.
• Shanghai Street Dumplings filled with chicken, ginger, green onions and soy.

P.F. Chang’s “dim sum” items range from $3.25 to $6 and include:
• Six new steamed dumpling choices, including edamame, pork and leek, lemongrass chicken, and bacon and egg.
• Flaming Red Wontons with pork and a spicy garlic and sesame soy sauce topped with scallions and pickled chili peppers.

P.F. Chang’s happy hour menu is available at restaurants in states that permit happy hour specials.

Other casual-dining chains are turning to their bars to drive sales.

Efforts to promote bar business at Applebee’s, for example, have grown alcohol sales to 14 percent, the highest in the chain’s history, Julia Stewart, chairman at parent company DineEquity Inc., said during the company’s most recent earnings conference call.

Red Robin chief executive Steve Carley has said the chain would aggressively increase bar sales with early and late-night happy hours, redesigned menus and point-of-purchase materials that promote both alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks.

Meanwhile, Ruby Tuesday has cited its revamped bar program, which includes $5 premium cocktails, as a “game changer” in the chain’s turnaround efforts.

P.F Chang’s China Bistro Inc. is based in Scottsdale, Ariz., and also owns the fast-casual Pei Wei Asian Diner brand.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the number of P.F. Chang’s restaurants. Parent company P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc. operated 369 restaurants at the end of fiscal 2010, including 201 P.F. Chang’s units and 168 Pei Wei Asian Diner locations.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected].

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