Drink specials are proliferating around town as bars attempt to attract business in the face of a seasonal downturn and a national recession.
El Rancho Tavern, 975 Main Ave., is planning to release a local's appreciation card for the first time to spur repeat business.
"It'll be a way for us to take care of our loyal customers," said Chip Lile, who owns the popular bar with his brother, Chris.
Customers will be able to accumulate points toward discounts and other benefits. The card should be available in a couple of weeks, Lile said.
The Lost Dog Bar & Lounge, 1150 Main Ave., has reverted to selling $2 beer drafts all day, every day. The bar offered $2 drafts when it first opened, but the price gradually increased to $3.
"Everybody's doing specials," said co-owner Ann Morse. "Everybody's looking for a good deal now with the economy."
Durango bars have long offered drink specials. But the recent additions of several deals suggests the watering holes are fighting for customers, though bar owners were reluctant to admit it.
Lile said El Rancho has "been doing all right," and Morse said the Lost Dog's deals were about giving back to customers.
"We appreciate everybody supporting us," she said.
Nevertheless, Durango sales-tax collections show a steep drop in revenue from restaurants and taverns, an indication that their own tills have lightened. In January, collections fell 10.5 percent for restaurants and taverns, from $204,853 in January 2008 to $183,430.
February may be worse. The month is often the nadir of business activity in Durango. For the last three years, March has marked the low point of annual sales-tax collections in the city. Sales taxes counted in March result from sales in February.
To attract customers, The Lost Dog has also begun offering $5 burgers on Fridays, adding to Durango's increasingly crowded calendar of burger specials. Morse said the bar had never really done food specials until recently.
Other examples abound: Lady Falconburgh's Barley Exchange, 640 Main Ave., recently added a second $2 pint night every week. The bar had previously held a Monday pint night. That deal remains, but Lady Falconburgh's expanded the promotion to Thursdays about a month ago.
Carver Brewing Co. offers a stamp card that rewards customers with a free pint after purchasing six.
The Irish Embassy Pub, 900 Main Ave., offers $2.50 pints, bottles and well drinks from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, as well as half-price appetizers. For martini drinkers, Moe's Starlight Lounge, 937 Main Ave., has half-price drinks and appetizers during its happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. on weekdays.