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Philadelphia Pub Limits Waste, Boosts Sales with Self-Serve Beer System


Any bar, pub or restaurant owner knows that one of the biggest challenges to operating an establishment is controlling costs. At Tir Na Nog in Philadelphia, an Irish pub that opened in 2003, controlling costs comes down to limiting waste, managing the atmosphere and, of course, making sure the bar is always full.

In a move to address all of those aspects, Tir Na Nog recently installed a beer dispensing system called the DraftMaster that enables customers to pour their own pint. DraftMaster is manufactured by the Ireland-based Ellickson International.

Tir Na Nog decided to install the system to curtail excess waste that resulted from spills when pouring drinks and overly generous bartender buybacks that resulted in lost revenue.

Tir Na Nog also sought to provide customers with the benefits that come with group-inspired serving methods, such as the convenience that comes with serving pitchers, without having to use the pitchers themselves. Not using pitchers allows for greater control over the drinking process because once the pitcher was in the customers' hand, any control to stop them from drinking was very limited.

Furthermore, despite the fact that the pub has many televisions and projectors, it often drew limited crows when hosting events for sporting matches, and the crowd sizes were often unpredictable, which left the pub unprepared.

How it works
Distributed by Diageo to over 300 bars in Ireland, the DraftMaster comes in two styles: a mobile table and a fixed table. The mobile table, which was installed at Tir Na Nog, has the entire beer dispensing system built in, with sections for the kegs on the bottom, cooling units and a pressurized dispensing system packaged underneath and two taps on top. The unit is controlled through an operating system behind the bar that allows the bartender to allocate the proper amount of beer to each table, and there is a built-in meter that reads the exact amount of beer being poured for the patrons to see. The system was installed in Tir Na Nog at the end of April.

With customers paying for the beer at the bar and pouring it themselves at the table, Tir Na Nog was, in effect, selling every drop of beer that was poured; and because customers were pouring the drinks themselves, the pub was able to gain greater control over bartender buy-backs. Tir Na Nog also found more control over the drinking process, as the bartenders were able to close the DraftMaster's taps and eliminate beer flow as soon as they felt the patrons were drinking too much. What's more, the novelty of the system led to higher consumer interest, and ultimately more patrons; customers have started calling ahead to rent the table for sporting events, even putting down deposits to keep it reserved. And while using it, servers have found that customers continue to order food, and continue to tip on both the food and beer.

Since installing the unit, Tir Na Nog has noted decreased waste, increased sales and a more social atmosphere, all of which is credited to the DraftMaster.

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