Cheers-Nov-Dec 2016

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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Page 18 of 63 19 November/December 2016 • barbecue sauce with its smoky, sweet tang," explains Ceraolo. "So I recommend it with a fruity wine like a pinot noir." The Carne Asada Pizza, with fresh fi re-roasted poblanos, marinated steak, cilantro pesto, Monterey jack and mozzarella, is a match with a Modelo beer or any of CPK's Margaritas, Ceraolo says. A old fan favorite, CPK brought back the Carne Asada for National Pizza Month in October. TASTING PANELS When trying to create the ideal menu for guests, Ceraolo and the beverage employees rely on a diverse set of opinions and palates. "We have a really great relationship with our culinary team," she says. "We do sequence pairings with our chef. We end up tasting through everything to make sure that it matches perfectly, and that all the fl avor profi les of the food, the tastes and smells, come out and are strengthened by our beverages." Some of these tastings, held blindly, also include CPK executives, which helps the company leaders understand the taste profi les preferred by guests, Ceraolo says. This is important, because CPK attracts a "wide range of people who like a wide range of taste profi les." The opinions of customers are also critical for menu strategy. CPK constantly tracks and measures food and beverage orders, with an analytical focus. The company keeps a close eye on what people order on a per-100 basis. In reviewing this data every six months, CPK will separate items based on a vertical price point and update its offerings accordingly. "For instance, in wine, we'll look at every varietal and consider whether we're reaching a price gap in that category. Are people not willing to pay that much for that varietal?" Ceraolo explains. "Or do we need to offer more premium bottles of that varietal, because consumer spending patterns have changed?" GETTING CRAFTY The brands that California Pizza Kitchen carries indicate that the chain is in touch with the modern trend towards higher-end and craft spirits. The backbar includes spirits such as Hangar 1 vodka, Casamigos and Patrón tequila, Kraken Black Spiced rum and Rémy VSOP Cognac. "The guest today is looking for more craft and premium spirits," says Ceraolo. "Especially younger foodies—they come in and want to see that we have craft. So we added a whole new layer of premium spirits at each restaurant." CPK restaurants can enhance their backbars from a list of 20 chain-approved craft spirits. Locations also have fl exibility to stock local and regional products, and they're encouraged to do so. The same goes for beer. Each CPK location has three-to-ten tap handles: Two must go to beers from Sam Adams and Blue Moon (beverage managers can pick which brews within those brands), while the rest are meant to feature local beers. General managers can also select two to three local bottle selections based on regional preferences. "It's important to us to feel like we're partners with our communities," Ceraolo explains. "Our craft beer program gives managers the opportunity to connect with local breweries and highlight that partnership." The restaurants also stock cans or bottles of beer at each location, though Ceraolo points out that CPK sells signifi cantly more beer by tap. There is a standard list of 12; beyond that, the managers have leeway to add local canned or bottled beer. WINE EDUCATION In designing the wine list, Ceraolo seeks balance between younger foodies and older connoisseurs. The former likes discovering new wines, while the latter will likely order something that they know they'll enjoy. Top-selling wines include several white varieties, such as Clos du Bois chardonnay, Kendall-Jackson chardonnay and Coppola pinot grigio. More consumers, especially Millennials, are developing palates for wine and increasing their knowledge. But plenty of guests are unsure of which wines they might like and why. For these consumers, CPK developed a social media app that's accessed through the company's Facebook page. The app gathers information about its users and then reports back to them on what wine region they would most likely enjoy. "It was the highest participation that any of our apps have ever had before," Ceraolo says. "Consumer education is always in demand. Guests always want to know more, and [they always] have their smartphones out with them." For the past two years CPK has also run a marketing campaign based around a California wine fl ight. Not only could guests discover some wines from the state's diverse industry, they could also learn about the producers and the history of their wineries. "As part of our California Wine Month September promotion, we introduced unique and creative elements including promotional wine bottles, educational coasters and a campaign microsite that offered wine-tasting tips in a non- intimidating way," Ceraolo says. For example, users could click through the site and learn how to navigate wine labels, explore varietal fl avor profi les and learn the "four Ss" of wine tasting. "Our 'What's your wine personality?' shareable quiz offered another fun way to interact and learn," Ceraolo adds. As a result, restaurant wine sales increased 155%. "That's the way in moving forward and interacting with our guests," Ceraolo says. The chain believes that its specialty drinks will provide another opportunity to draw guests in. Says Ceraolo, "We're positioning ourselves as a cocktail and sangria place." THE OPINIONS OF CUSTOMERS ARE ALSO CRITICAL FOR MENU STRATEGY.

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