Restaurant Development & Design

July-August 2015

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 5 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • 1 9 The Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co. Madison, Wis. "We are a brewpub, and this is one more way to spotlight our brews. Just a fancy way to serve beer — class it up," says Jennifer Schmitzer, general manager of the Great Dane's location in Fitchburg, Wis., a Madison suburb. The Fitchburg location is the only one (of fve Great Dane brewpubs) to install table taps at which thirsty cus- tomers can pour their own drafts. "We were the frst in Wisconsin and don't know of another setup in this state yet." The restaurant has four such tables, each dispensing four different beers, in an upstairs section. "People say, 'Wow, what is this? It's really cool,'" says Schmitzer of cus- tomer reactions to the pour-it-yourself setups. "They are gorgeous units — bright, shiny stainless with our logo." The table taps are a draw for groups booking corporate functions, holiday parties, rehearsal dinners and other events. Reservations have jumped, and the tables drive traffc. "Guests who have tried the table taps before bring their friends in to show them," says the general manager. The Fitchburg brewpub opened in 2002, but the self-serve system wasn't installed until three years ago when the upstairs section was remodeled. That facilitated installation because draft lines had to be run from the brew house on the main level to the tables through the foor of the billiard lounge upstairs. The project was a group effort that involved designers, construction crews and teams from the table-tap company and a draft-line specialist. When guests sit down at one of the four tables, the server provides glassware and a short presentation on how the system works. The taps meter beer dispensed by the ounce. Digital displays at the tables show customers exactly which brews they are pouring — and how much. "It's like pumping gas," explains Schmitzer. The displays are hooked up to a computer behind the bar so staff can monitor how much guests are consuming. Management never intended for the tap tables to replace waitstaff, Schmitzer notes. "Our servers are still around talking about the beer and giv- ing good service. The table taps shut off after a certain amount has been dis- pensed, so servers have to check back periodically." And the system hasn't hurt tipping, she adds. There were some initial challenges, however. The restaurant already had three bars with traditional draft stations, so installing the table taps required an additional glycol cooling unit to handle the extra load. Then one of the draft lines broke in the foor upstairs. "It was raining pale ale in the downstairs dining room," recalls Schmitzer. The restaurant contracted with a third-party company to clean and maintain the draft lines and has had no problems since. In fact, the program has been so successful that the Great Dane is con- sidering similar projects, including a tap table with kegs hidden underneath that could be easily retroftted into the private dining room or a "tap wall" where guests can walk up and serve themselves. + Digital displays on Great Dane's units show what's being poured.

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