Cheers May 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 27 of 51 28 • May 2016 out the restaurant that much more since it saves space." What's more, all beers at Bartaco come in cans. The idea from the beginning was to keep beers from ever touching glass. Instead, customers drink brews cold from a can, as though they were "crushing them at the beach," Thomas explains. Such a setup would have been impossible—or quite limited— not that long ago. But the craft explosion has embraced canning, leading to a great variety of specialty beers available in cans. "It's more sustainable, and people love the packaging," Thomas says. Nevertheless, she adds that the sole focus on cans, even now, can be constraining at times in terms of selection. OPERATIONAL CHALLENGES With her eye for uniqueness, selection and value, Thomas puts together many successful beverage programs for Barteca. Maintaining operational effi ciency is part of the process. One particular aspect shared by the beverage programs at Bartaco and Barcelona is offering unique, labor-intensive cocktails. And these can be a challenge to execute "With Bartaco, we have relative diffi cult builds with our drinks. It's very typical to have your food hit the table before your drinks," Thomas explains. That's largely because several Bartaco cocktails include citrus that is freshly squeezed to customers' orders. "We need to hire strong bartenders," Thomas says with a laugh. "And I don't necessarily mean strong technically. I mean strong physically" to juice all the fruit. Meanwhile, Barcelona sells a number of hot cocktails come fall and winter, such as a spiked hard cider. These are diffi cult to manage in high volume, since there is a mechanism to warming these orders. There is a balance behind these high-labor drinks. After all, nobody wants to wait 15 minutes for their cocktail orders to show up. And anything that takes up the time of bartenders is a potential drag on profi ts. That's why Thomas has implemented a number ways to speed up the process of cocktail production. For example, Bartaco has found that the most effi cient setup is having one bartender working for every $1,200 in bar sales, with plenty of help from bar backs and drink runners. Moreover, both restaurant brands batch their fast-moving cocktails such as Margaritas and Mojitos, and house-made ingredients so they can be added to drinks more quickly. "When you can just mix these in, it really cuts down on the time," Thomas says. "And it doesn't change the quality of the drinks. That's what really matters." Thomas keep an eye on drink sales, profi tability and how the affect the operation. "An essential part of my job is creating cocktails that do not negatively affect revenue," she explains. "I'm constantly analyzing how drinks do in revenue. If a drink cannot keep up, I remove it." RULES OF ENGAGEMENT Barteca concepts do not run many promotions, and the few they do host tend to be wine or cocktail classes, such as "Great Wines Of Rioja" and "The Gin & Tonic." Some restaurants will put a high price tag on such events, but Thomas believes in keeping them inexpensive. "If you are keeping a customer for close to three hours, and choosing everything that they eat and drink, then you have to keep it cheap to create interest." The classes range in price from $30 to $50. The point of them is to have people engaged and encourage them to come back to the restaurants. "If at the end of a class, people say 'sign me up for the next one', then that's what drives us, what drives our success," says Thomas. | | | | | | PROFILE | | | | | | Bartaco locations capture a relaxed, coastal vibe, with ample outdoor space and woven-basket light fi xtures and beach-inspired lifefstyle photography inside. Bartaco's Port Chester Reviver, with Martin Miller's gin, cucumber, mint, mango nectar and lime juice, has been a menu staple since the concept launched.

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