Maximizing Your Wine & Beverage Program

By Brian Lemay No comments

Paul: Welcome to another episode of On
Foodable Weekly. We are here at the National Restaurant Association Show.
We’ve got Mr. Vaughn Dugan of Kapow. Good to be here. Boca Raton Florida
right next door to us, so great to see you my friend. Good to be here.
Thanks for having me. Let’s go into a couple of things. First is kind
of the movement of craft beverage in general you’ve seen craft beer take off,
craft sodas, custom soda, a lot of that element has really kind of amped up the
beverage business. What are your thoughts on how bartenders or bar operations are
using those those types of products now? Well, I mean, they as you had mentioned,
it’s really kind of exploded over the past several years and bar owners
obviously see the the opportunity to kind of enhance and elevate their
business model by going from the old model of slinging drinks across the bar
to offering more fresh innovative ideas behind the bar. You’re seeing a lot of
the innovation in the cocktails come from the culinary side, which is really
neat too. Do you find customers and guests are coming in now and they’re much more
aware of the craft beer scene and they’re just asking for those things. A
hundred percent. Obviously that’s a bigger price ticket in terms of
traditional beer, or is it about… …it can be, you know, I think that’s
that’s part of the education process as well and you know you’ve got some beers
that are very low priced but those are some beers that we don’t really even
carry. We offer, I think again, we try and have a more elevated program and we do a
I think we do a really fantastic job at training our staff to understand that
when a guest comes in that likes their favorite beer that we can actually take
them and sell them into some of the fine craft beers that we have locally as well.
So moving off the beer menu over to the cocktail menu and I know you and your
wife Angela work with Dugan and Dame which is a consulting group that does
some cocktail formulations and stuff, where do you guys see it from a
popularity concept at Kapow? Well first and foremost, as we had mentioned, the
classics are really what are becoming the staple for a lot of establishments
whether you’re a hip cool trendy restaurant, even some of the chains are
catching on to it now too, so that’s really I think pushing some of the
mixologist and bartenders to advance their craft, come up with
unique combinations and ideas, different plays off of some of the classics as
well. Let’s create some new classics out there. Absolutely. Yeah. Come up with completely
new spins. Yeah. Where do you see that going in terms of trends? What do what do you
like? Do you like gin, you think vodka is going the direction, or you think bourbon
is coming back? Um, I think Bourbons been back. I think Bourbons been sort of the
hot thing this year. I do see gin making a huge, over the past
year or so, a huge push to the top as well as far as people choosing that
spirit in the craft cocktail world. So gins hot. Bourbon is is solid, always kind
of has been. Let’s talk about Japanese whiskey, one of my favorites. A
couple years ago, you know, one of the Japanese whiskeys landed on the top of
the best whiskey in the world so there’s been a huge huge demand for Japanese
whiskey. Why do you think that is because now you get, I mean you get here we are in
America, I mean, we are the home of bourbon, Kentucky bourbon. I think, you
know, again as more of the consumers learn more and more about this
resurgence of booze in general they’re getting more intelligent but you know
we’re also sort of closed minded in terms of we think everything comes from
here all the bourbon and whiskey comes from you know Kentucky and
that’s it. So when you hear about a Japanese whiskey basically beating out
all the kind of born and bred and the good ol USA all kind of opens
everybody’s eyes like well there’s another whole world out there of people
distilling this stuff and the Japanese have been making phenomenal whiskey for
years. Interesting! All right! Let’s talk about non-alcoholic. So there is a larger
percentage growing into non-alcoholic beverage consumption. Yep. Sorry to hear
that. Yeah, it’s interesting to see why, but, let’s talk about bars because you
know you’ve got to have something to be able to trend to that that group, that
non-drinker in the crowd. What are you guys doing? So, not everybody wants a
Perrier or a Diet Coke and that’s one of the things I have to give my wife Angela
credit to. About four years ago we were about a year into our program at Kapow
and she read somewhere that that was going to be kind of the
next trend and it just made sense, you know? People are going to craft cocktail
bars there’s always someone driving, there’s always something that doesn’t
drink right and, you know, again they don’t want a soda every time and they
want something that’s fresh and innovative that they can sit with us and
kind of sip and share the program with everybody else. Sure. So that’s
something that we focus on for some time. So you guys have spent some time and effort into. Oh yeah absolutely and
it’s not just throwing some stuff together to satisfy that client, it’s
really coming up with something that’s innovative that you know they can feel
like they’re a part of the trend as well. Alright let’s talk about tactics. This is
probably what our audience is really interested in hearing. Okay. And that, is how
do we do a couple of things, one, how do we get higher prices for our drinks?
Because you guys are spending a lot more time crafting these. Yet more unique
ingredients. Got to be rising the cost of goods and what are you guys doing in
terms of tactics to upsell, take a price up but not going so far you press
yourself out of the market? I think for us that the whole topic of price point
has come up quite a bit especially this year. I’m hearing a lot of like how
can we bring up the price point in our cocktails and I don’t know if you
necessarily have to. Meaning, I don’t think that’s something that we think
about is how we can grab an extra buck by raising the price. I think it’s
relevant to A, where you are, you know, do you have a market that can support a
fifteen dollar cocktail? Yeah. And then obviously whatever you put into that
cocktail is going to also kind of demand or get you that price that fifteen
dollar tickets. So we do a heck of a lot of work getting our staff trained as to
why it’s Brett now Angela, you know, chose those ingredients you know there’s a
story behind everything and I think the storytelling part of it is the upsell.
That’s how you get that upsell. People get excited about it, like wow, that’s that’s
interesting. Right, savory cocktails. What do you think, that you like it? Love it.
Yeah. I love it, and I think that I love seeing mixologist working with the chef
more which we see happening a lot in our restaurants. They work together on
cocktails based on the dishes that the chef’s coming up with. So they kind of
work together which enhances the whole menu as a whole.
Yeah. So building a team around these kinds of bars and these kinds of
programs obviously you need talent. What do you guys look for in getting the next
greatest bartender or an apprentice to come in underneath someone that’s really
a great talent. I think passion more than anything. We look for somebody who is
trainable. Yeah. That is just really passionate about everything. Yeah, you
know, and that they want to be a part of the bigger picture. Yeah. You know, we
have a program in place. We want somebody who can execute it but also can
contribute to future development of the new menu. For example, that’s not going to
try and use their ego and and their own brand to sort of push forward and I
think it’s important for especially in a restaurant environment it’s important to
have someone that is just passionate about your brand building your cocktails
this wants to be part of a team. Yeah. All right, Vaughan, I know we could talk all
day we’ll probably go off camera here and have some more discussions. Cool!
Thanks for having me. I’m gonna wrap up this episode. Thanks for stopping in. Wrapping for the day here at the National Restaurant Association Show
here on the Foodable Network. Catch us next time!

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