An Economics Lesson at Boheme

"What you're thinking is that we have an inelastic product here. But what we have here is an elastic product." - Economist Russell Bell

In general, products that create dependence - cigarettes, hard drugs, exotic Asian quasi-opiates ordered legally on the internet, somehow - are considered inelastic. With an inelastic product, price fluctuation has a less significant effect on demand than it would for an elastic product, like popsicles. Unless you really, really like popsicles.

Apparently, cheap beer and well booze on a Monday night is Houston is as elastic as Rex Ryan's underwear.*

A few weeks ago, Monday nights on the back patio at Boheme saw industrial-size fans stirring otherwise unmoving air to cool tables full of young folks drinking $1 Lone Stars and well drinks from the outside bar. The patio is as big as two back yards, but it would occasionally get so crowded that it was hard to hear. I had friends who went semi-regularly, and the bar is in walking distance of my house, and I'm bad at turning down invitations to drink, so a few of my Tuesday mornings were less than vibrant thanks to Boheme.

Things have changed, though. Management recently doubled back-bar special prices, and last Monday, the crowd was less than half what it used to be.

Maybe all those patrons migrated a few bocks north to Cecil's for its similarly cheap, claustrophobic Monday-night special. Before the Boheme price hike, the demographic was basically the same. Or it could have been an unusually slow night at Boheme, but the fall off from earlier in the summer was too sharp to be a total fluke.

And maybe that was by design. Boheme attracts an artsy crowd, but it's usually a little more muted and mature than when the $1 special was in effect. Even on those nights, the inside bar, where prices stayed the same, was comparatively quiet. The owners could have wanted to preserve the culture of the place. This is a bar that serves organic, free-trade coffee and croquet monsieur. That's just speculation, though, and the doorman - the very bored doorman - the bar hired to guard the back gate suggests the drop-off was unanticipated.

Exodus aside, $2 is about the right price for a can of Lone Star, and cheap for a well drink. And now that there's more space, the back patio - barely lit by the bar's red lights, and occasionally the flash of a TV from the cookie-cutter condos next door - is a good place to drink away a Monday evening.

Random aside: If you're walking up to the bar on Fairview, you might meet a character named Crackhead Dave. No worries if you're white -- Crackhead Dave believes all white people know karate. If you aren't white, make an offhand comment about how funny all the white people in your dojo are. But no matter what your ethnicity, don't give Crackhead Dave a ride home to Fourth Ward. Shit gets weird.

* This crappy simile is dedicated to Houston Press blog editor Rich Connelly

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