BIGGER IS BETTER AT PIZZERIA UNO
Both the pizza and the beer…
Take a Chicago restaurant legend, combine it with a crack management team that believes casual dining doesn’t have to mean second rate, and you have the makings for a mini empire, one ruled by ever-popular Chicago-style deep-dish pizza and the 15-oz. beer. Six years ago Pizzeria Uno made the commitment to be a major player in the casual dining segment by expanding its menu and adding new equipment. Two years later a comprehensive beverage program, backed up by a lively at-table marketing effort, was added. The company has proven that bigger, with quality, is better, just one reason Pizzeria Uno was awarded the 2000 Cheers Award for Best Chain Beverage Program.
A NEW ERA FOR UNO
Alan Gibson, vice president, food & beverage, came on board Uno four years ago, having spent his career in hotels. He knew from his experience there that if customers were offered a better quality beverage, they would be willing to pay for it. “Our goal was to commit to excellence, with beverage thought of as a food. I’m a believer that what you see in front of the house is a good indication of what is in the back of the house,” Gibson explains.Pizzeria Uno, Boston, MA
Six years ago, Uno was exclusively pizza, with relatively little attention paid to what customers drank while they were eating. When they set out to create a higher quality menu by adding sauté stations, char broilers, grills and fryers, they took the same approach with the beverage program. Using highest quality beverage ingredients, and searching for the best drink recipes, along with offering good value for the dollar, was Gibson’s aim. “Part of our goals and objectives were to give the best quality at the best price. We learned in casual dining that bigger is better. We were one of the first to have a larger size draft, 15 ounces, about 15 years ago,” Gibson says.
Uno took the success of the larger beer and decided to apply it to frozen drinks, and now offer 20-oz. portions. The reasoning goes along with the trend seen elsewhere: people are ordering fewer drinks, but are willing to buy a larger size and have just one. Customers are also willing to buy a higher quality branded product. “We found that our customers feel very comfortable with the higher quality brand, that they are accustomed to the flavor and don’t know what to expect from a lower quality product,” he adds.
MARKETING THE WET STUFF
Making a commitment to excellence was a good start, but customers had to know that something had shifted. “We had to communicate the new items to our guests. We knew that 80% of sales are done at the table, and that in our segment of the industry it’s hard to find educated servers. Our solution was to come up with a comprehensive beverage menu,” Gibson says. The new menus, dubbed “Wet Stuff,” are four-color, comprehensive listings of all beverages that stay at each table. The dramatic bills of fare change five to six times a year, featuring different drinks per season in the center spread. It’s called the “hall of fame” program, and allows them to promote 12 to 15 drinks during each period.
The Winter Drink Menu featured specials like the Frozen Hennessy Alexander, a frozen version of the classic Brandy Alexander; Newcastle Brown Ale; and the Hot Bomber, Baileys Irish Cream, Kahl