Restaurants in general are tough businesses to run, but there’s a whole other layer of complications when it comes to pubs and breweries. The focus on alcoholic drinks can mean big bucks to your bottom line, but it also means using specific strategies to make the most out of your business. What tactics can you employ to put your brewery or pub on the best path to success?
Maintain a diverse range of beers.
Like with any other drink list, a beer list should run the gamut of styles. This especially goes for any restaurant, like breweries and pubs, whose main brand is beer. While you as the owner or manager might have personal favorite beer styles or individual picks, you need to think about serving a wide group of guests. Take the time to ensure your beer list includes the staples as well as some special picks here and there.
Consider also having a rotating group of seasonal beers as a secondary list. This provides extra incentive for returning customers, but it’s also just a nice way to explore more flavors and beer styles as fits the time of year. If your establishment is focused on local sourcing overall, considering particular local beers and microbrews to have on hand could be a big boon to the local economy and to your customer loyalty overall.
Jay Digman, owner of The Barley Mow Brewing Company, elaborated, “There are so many options today for consumers, so it allows them to be really picky about what they are buying and where it comes from and who they are buying from …. Our customers can taste the difference. They give great feedback, and we can respond to their needs, and their tastes are growing with us.”
Unlike a lot of other restaurants, there’s more of a communal feel to pubs and breweries, with a rich history of community events. Take advantage of that reputation by hosting weekly events at your establishment. Trivia quiz nights (with inexpensive but fun prizes) are a must, but also consider getting TVs set up for seasonal sports. If your pub or brewery has a particularly European feel, you can bring in fans of rugby, soccer, and other not-as-popular-in-America sports by offering nights devoted specifically to their matches.
Don’t forget music. Get in touch with local musicians to perform live on Saturday nights, and think about hosting a karaoke night once a month. Not only do these events encourage guests to stay for a while and order more, they also build a community around your restaurant.
Acquire the proper licenses.
If you want to sell alcohol in your restaurant, you absolutely have to get the correct licenses. Do not take these licenses lightly. It can be extremely difficult to get beer and liquor licenses in many places, and there are often severe legal consequences if you serve alcohol without licenses. If yours gets revoked, it could potentially mean disaster for your restaurant whose brand centers on its drinks. Make sure you follow the specific laws in your state, and once you’re able to serve alcohol follow the drinking age laws to a T.
Provide enjoyable outdoor seating.
Whether or not you can create outdoor seating will largely depend on your location. Some restaurant buildings just don’t have the space. However, if your restaurant does have the outdoor space for it, seriously consider setting up either a full patio or a seating area by your sidewalk.
Pub and brewery guests want to be able to enjoy their beers in comfort, and when the weather is nice in the spring and summer, that means enjoying it outdoors. There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to opening up a patio space, but the payoff of making it part of your brand is potentially huge.
Set-up an efficient bar.
Yes, all restaurants with a bar should have a well-organized bar set-up, but pubs and breweries need this especially. It’s what your business is supposed to be known for, so you better have it down pat.
It’s not just about having all necessary bar supplies on hand but also physically organizing them so that your bartenders know exactly where each item is when they need it. You’re going to get a lot of drink orders in the course of a single shift, so you want to ensure you make the drink making process as smooth as possible for your bar staff — and impressive to watch from the seats!
Hire a knowledgeable staff.
There’s no doubt about it — to run a successful pub or brewery, your staff needs to know their beers. It’s arguably even more important than your staff knowing your menu (although that’s also pretty important). But think about it — when people visit breweries and pubs, there’s an expectation that those restaurants have a solid expertise in beer. Many of those guests might be coming in to expand their beer tasting horizons, so it’s vital to your business’ reputation that you properly train servers and bartenders alike.
Note that training goes beyond just being able to describe each of the drinks on your beer list. They should be able to offer suggestions based on what a guest already likes (or doesn’t like) and what would pair well with their food order. To do this, you as the manager must take the time to offer gradual and regular training sessions.
Staff should be able to ask questions about the beer selections, especially if you have rotating seasonal beers that they might not know as well. If you’re patient and support them, your staff will not only be able to sell your beer list properly to guests, but become real ambassadors for your brand.
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