When it comes to Friday night happy hours, you probably don't think of welcoming the weekend with a drink or two at the nearest grocery store. Brian and Maureen Luzik would beg to differ.
The past couple of weekends, the Robinson couple have headed to Market District Robinson at Settlers Ridge, where with friends Jim and Colleen Lagree, they've bid the workweek adieu by sampling a half-dozen craft beers paired with gourmet eats.
It's called Hoppy Fridays, and it's been a hit among beer-loving shoppers since the mega-supermarket rolled the weekly event out in November.
Market District Robinson, you might recall, was the first area supermarket to sell beer to go and for consumption with food in its cafe; two years ago, they made it even more convenient for customers to enjoy a quick quaff by building a bar next to the beer displays. Along with pretzels to munch on, it offers draft microbrews, bottled beer and wine.
Extending the store's offerings, then, to include a special happy hour featuring its prepared food was a logical next step.
Says general restaurant team leader Karla Contreras, "We're trying to break the barriers between good food and good beer."
A Hoppy Fridays punch card costs $10 and buys you tastes of six brews. Each comes with a gourmet small plate expertly paired by the store's chefs. There's live music on the balcony.
To keep things interesting, each Friday brings different pours and nibbles. At a mid-January event, for instance, the Luziks and other guests noshed on Creole alligator paired with Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA. They also enjoyed a wild mushroom-and-roquefort tart with Le Fin Du Monde, a fruity Belgian-style beer, and veggie burgers with Peak Organic Pale Ale.
At the Friday, Feb. 7, event, Cleveland's Great Lakes Brewing will have star billing. Its brewmaster will be on hand to answer questions about featured samples, which will include the seasonal Conway's Irish Ale (to be served with a classic shepherd's pie) and Burning River Pale Ale (with a bleu-cheese plate).
It'll be a bit fancier on Feb. 14: in honor of Valentine's Day, that event will feature four beer cocktails paired with four foods for $14, served directly to your table.
Hoppy Fridays run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and you have to be 21 for entry. But you don't necessarily have to leave the kids at home: Some guests had babies and toddlers in their carts.
You can buy tickets ahead of time at www.eventbrite.com/e/hoppy-hour-tickets-9977989435 or on site in the floral department.
Gretchen McKay: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1419 or on Twitter @gtmckay.