Early bird dinner is a dinner served earlier than traditional dinner hours, particularly at a restaurant. Many establishments offer a seating prior to their main dinner seating with a reduced price menu, often more limited in selection than the standard dinner menu. Some restaurants offer specific meals or meal options which are sometimes referred to as early bird specials. The term early bird special was first used for a clothing sale in 1904, and then in restaurants in the 1920s.
The hours which are deemed as “early bird” hours differ, depending on the locale and the establishment. Early bird seating may be as short as one hour or may be several hours long. It may use a prix fixe menu.
Generally, the idea is for the restaurant to increase revenue and profitability by offering lower-cost meals to attract price-sensitive customers, such as middle-class families and retired people, at a time when the restaurant would otherwise be empty.