The rent is due and gas is not getting any cheaper. Luckily, with daily deals popping up everywhere, living on a budget just got fun and a whole lot easier.
It is always happy hour somewhere. At McCormick & Schmick’s in downtown Los Angeles, that time is 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays.
Most patrons are dressed in business attire, looking for relief inside at the bottom of a beer glass after a long day’s work.
Some are sports fanatics, decked in Lakers gear, rooting for Kobe Bryant and still euphoric from last year’s NBA championship win. All stare intently at the centered jumbo screen television, only pausing to order as servers approach.
Drinks are aplenty, but patrons pack into the downtown bar for the happy hour food menu, which starts at just $1.95.
Choose from garlic fries to chicken tostadas, or throw in an extra dollar for its most popular bar food, a half-pound cheeseburger with a side of fries.
For a more sophisticated palate, and a couple more dollars, there are steamed mussels in a white wine sauce.
Servers zoom by from table to table, knocking out as many orders as possible. Flagging down a member of the wait staff can be difficult, so order in bulk.
The eatery can get chaotic, but no more than the streets and drivers in downtown. Street parking is a lost cause so head for the U.S. Bank parking structure located on Hope and 4th Street.
McCormick & Schmick’s in Los Angeles offers three hours of free parking with validation, as opposed to the Pasadena location that gives only one hour and charges $3 every half-hour thereafter.
Although Pasadena may not seem to be the ideal location for great deals, head east on Colorado Boulevard, past the glitz and glamour of Old Town Pasadena, to the Regency Academy Cinema.
Known for its $3 movie tickets and $2 matinees, the free parking on Catalina Avenue is only the icing on the cake.
Do not venture out looking forward to the openings of “New Moon” or “Avatar.” The Academy screens movies weeks after the original release date.
The “cash only” theater has Wednesday “Date Nights,” offering two tickets, two sodas, and two bags of popcorn for only $10, which is less than an admission ticket at most cinemas.
Do not expect lavish rooms, reclining chairs, or grand arcades. Although the sound and screen quality is decent, the Regency could definitely use some polishing.
If dinner and a movie seem too routine, the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Hollywood can add a twist to a typical night out.
Who are the Upright Citizens Brigade? Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh produced the UCB show on Comedy Central in 1998 to 2000, opening a club in New York City and Los Angeles years later.
The original “Citizens” do not often perform, but people can still watch an array of sketch, improv and stand-up comedy acts any day of the week for around $5.
The UCB philosophy says, “Our all-ages venue offers big names for small change.” When they say “change,” they mean cash. Credit or debit cards are not accepted.
Though it is an “all ages” club, the acts can be vulgar and tend to be suited for mature audiences. Conan O’Brien, Will Ferrell and Robin Williams all performed on the UCB stage for no more than $8.
Although known for providing big laughs in an intimate setting, patrons are most thrilled about their “bring your own beer” policy. They do not serve alcohol, so there are no “two drink minimums” like The Laugh Factory and other clubs.
The Theatre has also simplified the extreme art of parking in Hollywood by providing valet service for only $5 at Franklin and Tamarind Avenue. Some public parking lots in the area can charge up to $20. Avoid them at all costs.
Long lines too, can be avoided. Making a reservation online does not guarantee a line-free night, but it will significantly decrease the wait.
Whether people are looking for laughs, movies, or just downright inexpensive food, many businesses are pulling out all the stops in hopes of reaching the penny-pinchers in all of us.
For more information on McCormick & Schmick’s, 633 W. 5th St.
go to McCormickandSchmicks.com or call (213) 629-1929.
For more information on The Regency Academy, 1003 E. Colorado Blvd.,
go to Regencymovies.com or call (626) 229-9400.
For information on the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, 5919 Franklin Ave.,
visit UCBTheatre.com or call (323) 908-8702.