Throughout this summer, Cheers Magazine will highlight how chain restaurants are testing and implementing new products, equipment and tactics to produce unique experiences for guests.
Chains sometimes get a bad rap for being followers rather than leaders. It can be harder for them to be innovative, as operating multiple locations across the country poses challenges with standardizing wine lists, beer offerings and cocktail menus. Still, there’s a great deal of beverage innovation going on at these businesses, which Cheers wants to share with its readers this summer.
Tupelo Honey Café
Scratch-made comfort food chain Tupelo Honey Café is extending its draft beverage program to offer a minimum of 40 taps—and as many as 55 at locations in cities with a strong craft-beer following. This is a far cry from the 12-unit, Asheville, NC-based concept’s original restaurants, which offered just eight taps. But it’s a fast way to increase revenue since the ROI is almost immediate, says beverage director Tyler Alford.
“By having more taps, we increase the number of options to the guest,” he says. “But more taps also increases the revenue for beverage, and the percentage of beverage to food as a mix, which is the ultimate goal. We want to sell more quality drinks that make an immediate impact on the bottom line and keep the guest coming back for more.” Tupelo Honey Café’s taps offer both beer and cocktails, though beer is poured from the most taps. For instance, at the new Denver restaurant, which will open in September, 48 taps out of 55 will be pouring beer.
By the third quarter the concept will add tap wine—two draft lines will offer house-label wines with separate barreled and refrigerated systems. Next up may be nitro coffee.
The Tupelo Honey restaurants that have added more taps now sell up to 50% more beer, wine and liquor by volume of sales mix. Had the chain stayed with eight to 12 taps, Alford estimates the concept would have missed out on more than $1 million in beverage sales in 2015.
Amanda Baltazar is a freelance writer based in the Pacific Northwest who frequently writes about food and beverages.