It’s time for the second edition of Booze News, where we take a look at all the important bar and restaurant industry news from this month.
Reggie: Guess who’s back. Back again. BevSpot’s back. Tell a friend. (There’s my age showing.) Now that we’re firmly into the fall season, Rachael and I are back to give you another rundown of the industry news you might have missed this past month—all of the best October articles and features in one place. What more could you ask for?
Rachael: How about this ginger apple cider cocktail? No? Okay, let’s dive in.
A New Restaurant Reservation Challenger Has Appeared
Reggie: In our featured article of the month, it looks like we’re getting a fresh take on reservation software. Tock, the company co-founded by Nick Kokonas of Alinea fame, announced this month that it secured $7.5 million in funding. We’ll have to see if they can actually take on the powerhouse of OpenTable and others like Reserve, though.
Rachael: Competition in this industry continues to rise, and tech companies are racing to add additional features to their software to close out the market. Tock’s announcement came right after Danny Meyer of Union Square Hospitality Group announced that all managers and sommeliers of Union Square Cafe will start wearing Apple Watches during service. These watches will be connected to a new system called ResyOS, the newest Resy product, to manage things like reservations, table management, ticketing, web bookings and CRM.
Kings of the Bar Mountain
Reggie: The World’s 50 Best Bars were also announced this month. As expected, New York City and London were big winners and their bars dominated the list. The Dead Rabbit deservedly took the top recognition, as well as a really nice follow-up feature in CNN. I’m sure you were happy to see Sydney and Melbourne featured on the list, Rachael.
Rachael: I sure was—The Baxter Inn is my favorite whiskey bar in Sydney. I was also pleased to see Dandelyan, Ryan Chetiyawardana’s bar in London, granted third place. And we have to give a shout out to the guys over at Trick Dog in San Francisco who came in at number 35. We spoke with Josh and Scott during the Charleston Wine and Food festival, where they explained how to mix the perfect cocktail.
Are Restaurant Chains Disappearing?
Reggie: Wall Street Journal posted an article that highlights some interesting data trends in restaurants, specifically with chains. It details the recent fall of certain companies like Così Inc., Rita Restaurant Corp. and Garden Fresh Corp. Some of the explanations for these groups failing aren’t too shocking, but it will be fascinating to see how the industry adapts.
Rachael: This article says, “The U.S. is having one of its biggest restaurant shakeouts in years, as an oversupply of eateries and new rivals offering prepared meals to go claim what is expected to be a growing number of casualties.” Is this true? There’s certainly a lot of talk this year regarding the performance and stability of the big restaurant industry. Something to keep an eye on.
Instant Beer: The Beer of the Future
Reggie: Apparently we live in the distant future and nobody told me. Off the back of the news of artificial wine in last month’s roundup, Forbes reported earlier this month about the breakthrough that To Øl, an award-winning brewery in Copenhagen, has made developing instant beer. That’s right—powder that really turns into beer.
Rachael: “The brewery, which was ranked as the 9th best in the world in 2014 by Ratebeers, worked with GEA Group to create a powder that mixes with sparkling water and distilled alcohol to mimic the taste and feel of one of the brewery’s freshly poured craft beers.” I’m not sure how I feel about this, but I’d certainly like to try it.
The Beauty of the Bartending Community
Reggie: Lastly, in the most heartwarming of local news, Boston Magazine reported on Tavern Road’s plan to honor their fallen co-founder and beverage manager Ryan McGrale who tragically passed away last year. Asking for whatever bar tools the industry is willing to send, an art installation made from the donated tools is planned to be featured on one of the walls of their bar.
Rachael: This is a perfect example of how tight the sense of community is in the bar and restaurant industry. The Tavern Road team is “asking for friends of McGrale’s, industry colleagues and anyone else who feels inspired to share spoons, jiggers, paring knives and ‘anything you want us to include in our project’ by December 1.”
Reggie: That wraps up this month. Make sure to fill in your preferred e-mail address and hit that subscribe button below for future editions of Booze News if you haven’t already.