Originally, for the Broken Barrel’s opening in September 2018, owner Luke Johnson had wanted to customize tables with buckets in them to place everything from cans of beer to bottles of wine for guests.
He landed, however, on the much cheaper solution of purchasing two sizes of drink troughs made of metal for the bar/restaurant’s mix and match deals that include five domestic tall boy beers for $20, five craft tall boys for $25, four canned craft rosés for $36, and five canned cocktails for $30.
After the first week of service, Johnson says, he had to order 40 more troughs. “It just took off. It seemed like every table had three on the table and everybody was mixing and matching.”
While Broken Barrel is full-service, Johnson says the troughs help alleviate some of the pressure on servers because they are low maintenance. “People will walk up to the bar and get their trough of tall boys and you don’t really have to bother them for a half hour until they’re finished,” he says.
The program works especially well for Broken Barrel’s patio with picnic tables designed for large groups, but customers are still buying troughs inside, too, even during the colder months.
The rosé available in cans from brands like Ruza, Nomikai, Essentially Geared Wine Co., and Bollicini Sparkling, Johnson says, are popular with female guests, and he always suggests a trough of the premium canned beers like Tecate, Goose Island Beer Co., Revolution Brewing, Stella, and Corona to visitors. But, the most popular drink trough of choice? Bud Light, he says. “We can’t put our finger on why, but we go through about 60 cases of tall boys a week.”
All in all, guests love the trough program for it’s easy, self-serve format and guaranteed ice-cold beer.
The craft breweries, too, appreciate their products being offered in cans, which they argue is one of the freshest ways to enjoy them. Light can cause beer in bottles to go bad, and there’s a lot out of their control for on-tap options.
With more customers being swept up by the can craze, restaurants that take advantage can enjoy less pressure on servers and a communal draw for guests.