On Foodable Insight Series: What's Bubbling in the Beverage Industry

Curious about the state of the beverage industry? Craving more insights on trends? Quench your thirst for knowledge in this "On Foodable Insight Series" episode. Joining host Bill Bender are Nick Fosberg, senior manager for Program Compliance at the National Restaurant Association, and Rachel Speckan, the national wine director of City Winery.

Raising the Bar on Marketing

Fosberg is known as one of the highest-paid marketing and promotional consultants in the bar and restaurant industry, unintentionally becoming a marketing junkie while he was simply discovering new ways to advertise his own bar and get customers through the doors.  

"It was sink or swim, and really what it all came down to was capturing people's contact information," he said, citing online offers as a way to do so. "Your number one goal, besides service and giving a great experience, should be building that customer list as much as you can because those are the people you want to target-market to."

When Fosberg first captures consumer information, his initial approach is to create a personal, genuine connection through a welcome email. He builds this foundation by setting the tone of approachability and understanding, always reassuring his guests that if they ever have a less-than-stellar experience, he is eager and open to addressing their concerns.

"When your customers are telling you what they want, you gotta deliver because we're not in the business for ourselves, we're in the business for other people," Fosberg said.

Wine Up

Speckan has traveled extensively and possesses a global understanding of various wine flavor profiles. From drinking wine around the world and eating at local specialities, why does she believe alcohol is important in the restaurant industry? 

In various establishments, the cost of wine is often the same as the cost of food, and with aggressive margins, wine allows operators to maximize their profits, while also increasing guest satisfaction and enhancing guest experience, Speckan said.

An excellent wine program is a valuable asset to any menu. How can operators differentiate their wine programs from those of their competitors?

"I think the most important thing is for you to understand that the list is not about you. To really do a lot of...researching market trends and also price ranges," she said.

Speckan also advises restaurants to take an honest, comprehensive view at their cuisine before deciding on how they want to refocus their programs. Restaurants should also determine how much they need to make through the wine program before developing an efficient cost of goods structure. Although Europe's wine and food scene is more integrated, she feels the United States is on its way to the same path. This is a prime time to develop your brand's ideal wine program.

"I suggest just getting out there, eating and drinking, and really being a member of the community. The more you know about what other people are doing and always tasting, always learning, always...gaining more experience, I think that's really important," she said.

Watch the full episode now!