7 Strategies for Building a More Effective Beverage Program

7 Strategies for Building a More Effective Beverage Program

Every drop counts! Beverages arguably play a larger role in the industry today than they ever did before! 

You could try and make everyone happy by offering dozens of options at your restaurant, cafe, or bar, but we all know that’s likely not going to happen. An establishment needs to carefully consider their beverage menu, whether alcohol-focused or not, and offer one that is balanced, targeted, and one that fits their concept.

Many operators continue to face a challenge, however, when it comes to developing an effective beverage strategy. As with its food counter-part, consumers are more educated today about beer, cocktails, wine, coffees, sodas, and even a variety of waters. They understand retail prices and flavor profiles because they’ve become (or think they’ve become) a barista, mixologist, and/or wine & beer connoisseur at home. When they’re dining out or visiting a bar now, they crave something that’s ‘differentiated.’ 

How can restaurants, cafes, and bars take advantage of this segment and develop a memorable, consistent, and profitable beverage strategy that creates differentiation? Here are some tips to review when creating or re-engineering your next beverage menu. 

Read More

Getting Bitter Behind the Bar: Why You Should Embrace Bitters in Your Beverage Program

Getting Bitter Behind the Bar: Why You Should Embrace Bitters in Your Beverage Program

By Brian Murphy, Foodable Industry Expert

Guests continue to appreciate and look for bitter flavors. While some trends level off a bit, like the kale craze, some things continue to strengthen their hold on guests’ taste buds like IPA beers and the use of bitters behind the bar. West Coast, super-hopped beers may have helped the use of bitters become more common in cocktails, and some beers that get way up in IBUs could be of use in some cocktails! No matter what aided in the overall appreciation of bitter, the improvement of your beverage program can be taken to new depths by embracing the bitter and taking bitters to new places.

Read More

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!

Making the Case for Pre-Made Mixers at the Bar

Making the Case for Pre-Made Mixers at the Bar

By Natalie Migliarini, Foodable Contributor

As cocktails are becoming more popular and consumers more educated, customers are requesting more complex concoctions with unique ingredients. To keep up with the demand of presenting new and inventive cocktails, some bars and bartenders have incorporated pre-made products, made with distinctive ingredients, into their bar programs, like high-quality, pre-made juices and mixers. These are appealing to bars and restaurants because they offer a consistency not only in the cocktail but also in price.

If you’ve ever tried juicing a lot of limes or lemons, you know that each lime/lemon does not produce the same quantity of juice. The inconsistency means the cocktail you’re making can vary drastically if citrus is a major component.

Read More

Staff Training Tips: How to Teach a Wine List

Staff Training Tips: How to Teach a Wine List

By Erica Nonni, Foodable Contributor

How do successful restaurants train their staff to guide customers through their wine lists? Not just their wine directors with letters after their names, or their rising star sommeliers with Instagram audiences. Not just in very fine dining establishments whose budgets allow - and reputations require - professional wine qualifications and fine-tuned salesmanship.

How do moderately priced restaurants - where foodies go for a great burger or a homemade French onion soup on a weekday night - train their servers to sell from their wine list in a friendly, helpful way that generates sales and increases profitability? How do they do so cost-effectively? Below, two industry leaders in wine distribution and restaurant management who have figured it out share their tips.

Read More