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Happy Hour Is Back In Kansas

Suzanne Hogan

It’s a toast to the happy hour, so raise your glasses Kansans!  As of this Sunday, Kansans will legally be able to partake in the after-work and late-night tradition of happy hour drink specials. 

Since 1985, it’s been illegal for area bars to offer different drink prices at different times throughout the day.  

In downtown Lawrence, bars, restaurants, small boutiques and shops clutter the streets.  School is out, it’s a hot afternoon, bars are open, but not that busy.  KCUR's Suzanne Hogan went bar-hopping down Massachusetts Ave. to talk to bar patrons and employees about how the change in legislation might change this college town.

Inside the Bourgeois Pig, Bartender Adam Lott is making mojitos and serving beers.  There are a couple tables and barstools full at the cozy bar and coffee spot.  The smell of fresh mint fills the room.

“I don’t see it like becoming a crazy Sodom and Gomorrah, everybody’s drunk at 3 in the afternoon,” says Lott. “I think the way people’s lives are organized these days that it just won’t happen that way.”

When the ban first became law in 1985, bars reacted by offering daily drink specials, which most will still do. So that brings up the question: Will offering a couple dollars off a cocktail for just an hour or two make much of a difference?

“It would be nice to go someplace to have a specific beer, like, 'try this for two dollars for the next two hours,'” says bartender Sam Weise at the Replay Lounge.

Victoria Renn works at the Dynamite Saloon. She thinks that having happy hour will cut down on college students binge drinking.

“It will be an easier progression for someone to just have a couple beers from 4 to 6,” says Renn. “As opposed to dollar nights at Fatso’s where it’s just easy to get wasted.”

"For the most part I think people pretty much drink as much as they want to," says Jerome Favre, bartender at the Taproom.

The idea behind the original ban was that cheaper drink prices lead to excessive consumption and drunk driving.  Now that the legislation is changing, alcohol safety advocates are reminding Kansans that cheap specials should not be abused.

This story was produced for KC Currents, which airs Sundays at 5pm with a repeat Mondays at 8pm. To listen on your own schedule, subscribe to the KCCurrents podcast.

Every part of the present has been shaped by actions that took place in the past, but too often that context is left out. As a podcast producer for KCUR Studios and host of the podcast A People’s History of Kansas City, I aim to provide context, clarity, empathy and deeper, nuanced perspectives on how the events and people in the past have shaped our community today. In that role, and as an occasional announcer and reporter, I want to entertain, inform, make you think, expose something new and cultivate a deeper shared human connection about how the passage of time affects us all. Reach me at hogansm@kcur.org.
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