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.
Dog Haus, a gourmet fast-casual hot dog concept based in Pasadena, CA, began testing self-serve beer through the iPourIt system in its Santa Ana, CA, location in November 2014.
With the system, once customers have shown their ID or driver’s license at the point-of-purchase, they receive a prepaid beer card to use in the machine and a beer cup.
“The iPourIt system allows us to free up space in an already crowded kitchen while speeding up the line,” says Quasim Riaz, one of the partners in Dog Haus, which currently operates 18 restaurants.
The Santa Ana store offers four beers, while a second Dog Haus in Fullerton, CA, opened last July with six. This has led to an uptick in beer sales. “Typically we see about 4% of sales from beer, and in Fullerton we see about 6%,” Riaz says.
Going forward, he and his partners will consider iPourIt for every new location and will offer four, six or eight beers, always in a variety of styles. Locations do need sufficient back-of-house space to keep a keg of each beer, plus a backup. The Fullerton restaurant holds 12 kegs, for example.
Perhaps the best thing about the iPourIt system is the sampling it allows, Riaz says, because customers can pour as much as one-tenth of an ounce of beer. There’s no loss for the restaurant, since customers pay for everything. And guests can sample freely, without having to buy a full pint. The self-serve aspect of the system also gives customers faster access to a refill, leading to more beer sales, Riaz says. “It puts the consumer in the driving seat.”
Past Chain Innovation Spotlights: