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Kendall College Dean: Happy Hour Isn't Doom & Gloom For Illinois

Onus for responsible drinking rests with the consumer, dean says.

Kendall College's Sue Tinnish
Kendall College's Sue Tinnish
Kendall College
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Happy Hour's return to Illinois wouldn't mean all doom and gloom for the state, said Sue Tinnish, dean of Kendall College's hospitality management school. Tinnish sees the bill, which awaits action from Gov. Bruce Rauner, as a boon for the industry. Rauner received the bill on June 25 after House and Senate approval. He has 60 calendar days to take action, which means until Aug. 24.

The bill would bring back happy hour drink specials to Illinois, something that's been illegal since 1989. Tinnish sees the bill as something that could jumpstart the culinary industry in the state. Drink specials won't lead to Armageddon, as the industry needs to trust consumers to responsible.

"I think that to say that, 'oh, I'm going to be an irresponsible drinker only from a certain time period' is pretty naive," Tinnish said. "I think there is an onus on the individual consumer to be responsible."

Tinnish says bars and restaurants also play a role in safety, and that's a reason the bill mandates alcohol training for staff. Servers and other employees can take the courses online. BASSET certification costs under $15, and responsible alcohol service is something that's already covered under Kendall's curriculum, Tinnish said.

Tinnish sees the bill as increasing competition between restaurants and bars in a good way. This will push innovation and creativity in terms of food and drink pairings and discounts. Happy hours also give establishments another marketing tool to introduce customers to their locations — especially during the downtimes between lunch and dinner — Tinnish argued: "It's also another opportunity for upselling."

There's another social benefit to happy hour, as Tinnish said discounting drinks could lead more time and informal opportunities to build personal and business relationships, making bars and restaurants more affordable and approachable.

"When I look at happy hour, I think about this whole idea of meeting and talking over meals, being supportive of human relations in a way you can't be over a phone call or email," Tinnish said. "It's another way for people to bond and form better and closer relationships."