Claudia Pingatore, Energy Analyst
The Food Service Technology Center is thrilled to broaden its influence to the world of breweries and bars, both energy- and water-intensive industries. To kick off this budding relationship, the FSTC hosted Raising the Bar on October 11th, an evening event with presentations, conversations, and hands-on equipment demonstrations. For those that missed it, topics included chilling/distribution systems, ice, lighting, bar food menus, and the “farm-to-glass” movement.
Hunter Abraham with Chill-Rite presented on serving efficiency for draught beer and wine. He discussed how operators can cater their beverage temperatures to the particular type you are serving and the experience you want to impart. Hunter mentioned that most bar operations end up wasting 30% of their kegged beer through improper dispensing. This adds up to significant wasted potential sales for the bar operator. Installation of an efficient chilling and distribution system can drastically reduce this beer (and energy!) waste and improve temperature control of dispensed beverages.
Pete Palm with Western Pacific Distributors (WPD) presented on ice making and its inextricable connection to the bar industry. He began with three rules to remember for ice: 1) Ice is a food product, 2) Ice is not 100% water and, 3) Ice types are not equal. He went on to discuss how the right ice types can influence drink presentation and sales. For example, large “gourmet” ice cubes are ideal for craft cocktails since they have a perfect dilution rate (read: slow), their temperature maintenance does not obscure any of the cocktail’s flavors, and they are aesthetically pleasing to the customer, all of which can help justify a cost premium. Pete also talked about ice machines themselves being an excellent opportunity for energy and cost savings in bar service. Specify an ENERGY STAR®/rebate-qualified ice machine when possible. Please visit the FSTC’s ice machine page for more information. For a full list of rebated models visit: fishnick.com/saveenergy/rebates
The FSTC’s own Richard Young then launched into a presentation on the importance of lighting to the bar manager. Studies have shown that lighting has a direct impact on patron’s moods and thus their willingness to spend, so bar lighting should be designed as welcoming as possible. Be intent with you lighting choices: choose lighting that highlights your food/drink options and menus. Drape your bar in soft, indirect lighting that draws people in and encourages them to stay. Also, stay away from the en vogue, but energy-guzzling Edison-style decorative bulbs! Instead, opt for the LED versions of these stylish bulbs that use a fraction of the energy. Check out PG&E’s lighting rebate catalog here.
When food is served at a bar, whether it’s small snacks or a full bar menu, the average customer stays a half hour longer! In addition, offering suggested food pairings with drinks is a great way to sell more of each. To help bars get in on this action, Wendy Akers with Boar’s Head described their comprehensive Bistro Program that not only supplies food to operators, but also offers menu consultation, pairing advice, and supporting products such as merchandisers, meal photographs for menus, etc. For more information, contact Wendy at Wendy.Akers@boarshead.com. Jeff Yates with Inform Marketing Group followed with another key component to successful bar food service: appliance ease-of-use and space efficiency. Combination ovens offer both with intelligent controls that make virtually every step of foodservice easier. With its impressive cooking versatility, Jeff claimed that a combi oven could very well be the only cooking appliance you need in your bar! Otherwise be sure to specify energy efficient small form factor appliances such as rapid cook ovens, microwaves, and toaster ovens.
From the bar operator perspective, the dining trends of full service restaurants also apply to bar service. Specifically, sustainability remains of value to customers, even though the topic hasn’t seen much attention in the bar industry as opposed to the dining world. Mixologist James P. Gatts from Oakland’s Shakewell and Main Squeeze set out to change that through mixing organic beverages by sourcing sustainable cocktail ingredients and artisan small-batch spirits. Organic sourcing (though not necessarily local/seasonal) does often cost more, however, James has been able to offset that added cost through careful planning and use of higher priced liquor. He also noted that the organic sourcing endeavor could be overwhelming at first, but is worthwhile because it gives customers a “sense of time and place”—that is, a connection with your food and your establishment.
Once the presentations concluded, guests enjoyed a vendor fair with plenty of pub grub like flatbreads, gourmet charcuterie, and white anchovy crostinis with accompanying craft beverages. Guests networked with equipment reps and FSTC staff alike to ask specific questions regarding bar service and energy management. As a final note, remember that food prep is the biggest energy using component of the kitchen. So when purchasing new equipment or making changes in your facility/operation, be sure to consult fishnick.com for more tools, tips, and rebate information!