On Tuesday I wrote about some of the issues I’ve had with Growlers Pub as of recent but didn’t really offer up any solutions to the problem. Well, I’m not much of a fan of criticism without offering up any kind of ideas or solutions to resolve the issues. So today, I’ll be supplying my thoughts on what could turn Growlers around.
Let’s lay some things on the table first before I start this. Growlers doesn’t really need my help. There is hardly a night I don’t go into the Sunset Hills locations that it isn’t full. They’re making plenty of money and people seem to keep coming back. I’ve even heard rumblings that they’re looking at opening two new locations. So I’m sure everything I’m about to say will fall on deaf ears. But I’m hoping that someone does really care and will take some of my ideas to heart.
Hire someone that would function as a beer sommelier for both of your restaurants. If Growlers is truly committed to beer as they claim to be then they should have someone that oversees their selection. They need to have someone that can educate both the wait staff and the customers on beer styles and food pairings. You need someone that is also watching the quality of the beer served; checking temperatures of the beer served and draught lines for cleanliness (I’ve had a few contaminated draught beers on occasion.)
I could see this person also holding beer classes similar to what Cicero’s does. Educating people about beer and teaching them there is more than just that pale yellow stuff. Putting someone in place that really loves beer, someone that is actually passionate about it, you’ll often find that passion rubs off on people and they’ll start getting excited too. Once you get people excited about drinking beer you’re relying less on selling your Bud and Bud Light and can start selling more expensive craft beer that caries a higher profit margin.
Get homebrewers involved in your restaurant. At one point and time you held homebrewing contests, where did they go? Not only is this a way of getting homebrewers in and drinking and eating, but it also gets really passionate people talking about your restaurant. Homebrewers are very loyal and once they see that you’re interested in them, they’ll be interested in you.
Bring in a smaller draught beer size. You guys offer a 6oz taster (that seems rather large,) a 16oz pint and a 20oz pint. This is keeping you from offering some of the bigger and more expensive draught beers because no one is interested in paying $10-12 dollars for a 16oz pint of beer. But if you changed the taster to 3 or 4 ounces and then offered a 12oz size, you could start selling a beer like Unibroue at 6-7 bucks. After all it seems to work for Bailey’s and Cicero’s.
Where’s the proper glassware? I can’t tell you how often I’ve ordered a Belgian beer in your restaurant and had the server bring me out a standard pint glass. Now’s the time to make sure you have the proper glassware for the specific beer style you offer. I’m not saying you need to have 30 different glasses, but maybe more than 2?
More detailed menus. You have 132 different beers at a time. If the server doesn’t know what it tastes like and the customer is new to beer how are they going to know if they’ll like the beer or not. I appreciate that you reference the beer against a style, but remove the part about how beer is made and start going into detailed information about each beer. Provide information about SRM and IBUs if possible. IBUs are especially important if you explain how they relate to bitterness. This seems like the kind of project your beer sommelier could work on.
No matter what the reader of the RFT think, you’re not the best beer bar in St. Louis, not by a wide margin. But you probably have more money and more resources than any other beer establishment in the area to actually become the best. This is your chance to really step it up and prove to everyone you’re the restaurant you actually want to be.