Akemann, Hilding, and Bisaillon refused to have their restaurants be pigeon-holed as a bar, so in 2016, they established City Works to stand out from the competition and prevent market confusion. City Works has now become Bottleneck’s source of growth and its brand of the future. By the end of 2020, it will extend across six states.
The eatery and pour house features more than 90 local, regional, and global brews and 98 percent of its menu is made from scratch. The stores average roughly 10,000 square feet and each house at least nine flat-screen TVs. The largest location is in Frisco, Texas, which boasts 13,000 square feet and 28 TVs. Each of the units are company-owned and there are no future plans for franchising, Gray notes.
In the next year, Gray expects City Works to expand its menu by 20 to 25 more food items and by at least 20 more craft and cocktail beverages.
“Some of the focuses both prior and also forward-looking are obviously our focus on service. We consider that to be a differentiator for us,” Gray says. “And one of the main things that sticks out, anybody with a craft beer focus really needs to be focused on diversifying their beverage program, and we think we were a little bit ahead of the curve on that. There’s a lot of folks selling more craft beers … As craft beer really got flooded with the amount of people participating in it, we began diversifying the beverage program pretty quickly to make sure that we are expanding options. One of the big things that we rolled out this year that’s been wildly successful is best-in-class brunch. Breakfast is obviously a pretty hot segment in the industry right now and we rolled out a brunch meal period that we think is definitely best-in-class.”
In addition to the chain’s amenities, Gray also emphasizes the importance of fostering talent, as well—another factor that’s played a role in the growth of City Works.