'Happy Hour' returns to the Hoosier state

NOW: ’Happy Hour’ returns to the Hoosier state

SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- A new law, signed this week by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, is bringing "happy hour" back to the Hoosier state. 

The practice was banned back in 1985 to combat drinking and driving. Starting July 1, local bars and restaurants can offer those daily specials again. 

Businesses in South Bend are planning to take advantage.

“I think it will encourage a lot of people to get back out into the bar scene," said Shelby Burtscher, General Manager at The Exchange. “Going to a bar isn’t just going out to drink, it’s also to socialize. Get out there and meet new people.”

 “We think ultimately it was a good decision for the consumer," said Matt Soutra, Vice President for Navarre Hospitality Group. "I think it’s a good decision to allow Indiana to compete with some of our neighboring states that already have this.”

Individual establishments can come up with their own happy hour deals.  However, the deals cannot surpass four hours per day, 15 hours per week, and cannot run between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.

The worry is that happy hour can lead to excessive drinking and drunk driving, the whole reason it was banned in the first place. 

“That’s up to my bartenders," Burtscher said. "We just have to watch the people, so we got to watch what they drink, you know, you look at everything when you’re a bartender. So, knowing your customers, knowing how much they can drink, that’s all on them. So, they’ll make sure people aren’t over-consuming.” 

The law's goal, according to Holcomb, is to help get more bodies in Indiana businesses, many still recovering from the pandemic.

“We haven’t been immune to some of the challenges locally and nationally that have affected restaurants over the last four years,” Soutra said.

The law also legalizes carry-out drinks in Indiana bars and restaurants, as long as they are properly sealed. 

Click here to read the law.

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