RUTH’S CHRIS STEAK HOUSE & THR3E WISE MEN BREWING CO. INTRODUCE CRAFT BEER COLLABORATION

In honor of Ruth’s Chris Indianapolis’ 20th Anniversary, a special limited edition of Bock of Elijah Bourbon Barrel beer is being launched on April 15, 2014 at both Ruth’s Chris Steak House locations, Northside  (96th and Keystone Avenue) andRuth’s Chris Steak House downtown(45 S. Illinois Street / Circle Centre Mall) . Ruth’s Chris is proud to introduce this locally crafted, celebratory creation in partnership with Indy’s Three Wise Men Brewing Co.

German in heritage, this dopplebock has been crafted with all German malt to enhance its authenticity of taste and experience.  This limited edition beer, fermented for two months, was filtered and then placed in Ruth’s very own aged Elijah Craig Bourbon Barrels.  On April 15th, Ruth’s Bock of Elijah will be pulled straight from these barrels and tapped at Ruth’s Chris’ Northside location and served until it’s gone.

“We wanted to toast our 20th Anniversary in a special way,” said Kevin Armantrout, Franchisee of Ruth’s Chris Steak House Indianapolis.   “Handcrafting a specialty beer with one of the great local brewing companies in Indy is about as good as it gets.  We’re very excited to share our Bourbon Barrel with our guests and look forward to ongoing collaboration with Three Wise Men Brewing Company.”  

“When Kevin Armantrout told me that the Indianapolis Ruth’s Chris had a special release of Elijah Craig in their restaurants for their 20th anniversary, naturally as a craft beer enthusiast, my first thought was ‘What are you going to do with that barrel after you empty it?’ And, from there our two “entrepreneur brains” started churning out the ideas,” says Scott Wise, Owner of Scotty’s Brewhouse. “We had great success at the brewery with another barrel and I knew having one of the best brewers in the state in Kelly Thomlinson, this would be a great collaborative project that I wanted to be a part of.”

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Bock of Elijah is named after Elijah Craig, the first person to use charred barrels for aging bourbon. According to local lore, the Rev. Craig suffered a fire in the late 1780s that fried his whisky barrels, and it was too expensive to get new casks. That made Craig the first in the country to age corn-based whisky in charred oak casks which give the drink the golden brown color, undercurrent of smoke, caramel and vanilla flavors that it has today

About Ruth’s Chris Steak House Indianapolis

Ruth Chris Steak House made its sizzling debut in Indianapolis in 1994.  Larry Griggers, one of the brand’s hand selected franchisee’s, brought the New Orleans Steak House concept to the market and since has mastered its reputation of first class dining in a warm and inviting atmosphere.  Griggers, Armantrout and their team celebrate this 20th Anniversary mark with a new look as the restaurant moves to 86th and Keystone Avenue in late July 2014. 

About Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Company

Located in the Broad Ripple neighborhood in Indianapolis, Indiana, Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Company opened in January 17, 2011.  Thr3e Wise Men greets its guests with a classic lodge feel – exposed beams, concrete floors and warm walls, but is filled with multiple big screen TV’s to ensure you won’t miss a game.  The brewery keeps busy brewing seven house beers, quarterly seasonal beers, and several specialty beers throughout the year. The restaurant’s menu is highlighted with homemade pizza, classic brewhouse appetizers, and brew-homemade desserts. Thr3e Wise Men is an all ages venue that caters to your craft beer enthusiasts all the way down to kids looking for a great meal while mom and dad enjoy a cold craft beer.

For more information about Ruth’s Chris Steak House Indianapolis Northside visit www.ruthschrisindy.com or call 317-844-1155.

 

 

2014 - What is in store for Scotty's Brewhouse and Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co.

A Pots & Pans Production, the parent restaurant management company to Scotty’s Brewhouse and Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co., is on track to open our seventh Scotty’s Brewhouse location in Brownsburg, Indiana (at the corner of US136 and W. Northfield Dr), in March, 2014. This will be followed by the planned opening of a Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Scotty's Brewhouse in the Summer of 2014.  Anyone who is interested in applying for employment can do so at www.scottysbrewhouse.com.

We are happy to be celebrating the 5th anniversary of our Downtown location and the 10th anniversary of our West Lafayette location. This is a true testament to the hard work it takes to succeed as a small, local business, and paves a pathway for other businesses to succeed as well.  We will be having anniversary specials February 17th through 21st. These specials will be released, exclusively, on our website and social media outlets. They include $5 bullet and $8 growler fills from 2/17 through 2/21, and 25% off any online carryout order from 2/17 through 2/20.

Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co. has been expanding distribution throughout the state of Indiana as well.  We currently have more than 50 accounts offering Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co. beer and continue to add new accounts weekly.  In early spring, the brewery plans on canning and distributing to liquor stores across the state.  Cans will also be available for sale at Thr3e Wise Men.

After months of item testing and preparation, we are proud to announce that the Scotty's Brewhouse brand will be releasing a highly anticipated new menu mid-February. The new menu will showcase current Brewhouse favorites, introduce new items, and bring back old favorites in high demand by our most loyal guests. These items include our new pulled pork quesadilla - pulled pork, bar-b-q sauce, onion strings, smoked gouda cheese, buffalo loaded fries - waffle fries with mo’fo’ mild, bleu cheese crumbles, ranch, thr3e wise men salad - lettuce, spinach, mushrooms, bacon, pepperoni, red onions, mozzarella and feta cheeses, house dressing, juicy lucy stuffed burger - ground beef patty stuffed and oozing with hot, melted american, bivens sriracha burger -  topped with melted pepper jack cheese, jalapeños, and a sriracha honey sauce, and many more items. This will be highlighted by a invite-only social media "New Menu Preview" night on February 17th, 2014. We will also be releasing images of new items daily on our instagram account.

Step Your Way To Paid Days Off – Scotty’s Plan For A Healthier Staff

Walk 10,000 steps a day and earn time off work! That’s the new fitness challenge Scotty Wise has issued to his team for 2014. Over the course of the next year, employees can earn one extra paid day off per quarter by completing this challenge. 

Sw"Healthy employees are extremely important to me," said Scott Wise, President and CEO of a Pots and Pans Production, owner and operator for Scotty’s Brewhouse restaurants and Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Company. "Self confidence is a great by-product of a healthy lifestyle.  I think this attitude is necessary in every one of my directors and leaders in this company.  And, not only will my people feel better, but I find that they perform better at work too.  With the rising costs of health care and the new mandates from Obamacare, I think it is important to focus on the core problem and not the symptoms.  If we can educate our team, incentivize and lead them to a healthier life style, everyone wins.”

Wise is an exercise enthusiast who runs 5 miles per day, 6 days per week.  He also lifts weights for an hour, 5 days a week, while running 7 restaurants and being a father to 4 kids under the age of 7. 

“I find that exercise can help you decompress from a long day and relieve stress,” continued Wise. “I have also found that some of my most creative ideas come while I’m running on the treadmill.  I often have to stop and send an email to myself with a new food, drink or promotional idea that springs to life after a few miles get the blood flowing.”

Tracy Morgan, the Director of Human Resources, created this program for 2014 by investigating multiple fitness monitoring bracelets and determining a challenging distance that is attainable but also pushes employees to become healthier. 

After the research was complete, the company decided to use the Jawbone UP 24 to track employees’ steps each day. These not only are great for keeping track of progress, but also help to create a competitive atmosphere with participants as they can monitor one another’s progress. Employees can buy these on their own or through the company and have the cost payroll deducted. 

“We wanted everyone to have an equal opportunity to participate in this initiative,” continued Wise. “If you don’t have the money to pay for this all at once, we can deduct a small portion from your paycheck over a few paydays to make it a lot more affordable.”

The Jawbone Up 24 syncs with smart phones and records steps, calories burned, miles and even helps monitor your sleeping patterns. Once an employee has established their Jawbone profile, they then join the Scotty’s Group online and are able to see how fellow employees are doing. This feature also allows the Human Resources department to monitor progress and award employees who meet company-established goals.

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“It is a pretty cool device,” said Matt Gutierrez. “Not only does it help you stay motivated to exercise by counting your steps, it can even vibrate every 30 minutes to remind you to get up and move around.”

Wise has always encouraged his employees to exercise with creative employee benefits like company paid health club memberships, reimbursement for Pilates, Kickboxing, Spinning, Zumba, Yoga and reimbursements for completing races, like the Indy Mini, Geist Half Marathon, Bloomington Half Marathon, Mudathalon and more. Last year, the company offered a program using the Nike Fuel Band to encourage employees to exercise which proved to be a hit and evolved into the program this year using the Jawbone Up. 

In 2013, the company transitioned its paid health insurance provider over to an HSA (Health Savings Account) plan.  With the continual increase in health care costs for small business owners, Wise wanted to find a plan that would offer the correct benefits to his employees; but also give more ownership and decision making ability to employees, giving them the ability to decide if medical care is needed or if that cold is just "the sniffles" and they would rather keep that money in their account to have at the end of the year to use for something else.

"I love the ideals behind the HSA plans," said Wise.  "We encourage a healthy life style, we incentivize and reward you with more cash in your HSA for participating to make your lifestyle healthier with better choices and exercise and let the employee choose how to spend that money - whether a doctor visit is necessary or saving that money in their account for other future use.”

More than 25 members of the management team chose to participate in this year’s program. Over the course of the next year, they will receive an additional paid day off for each quarter they walk 920,000 steps, the equivalent of 10,000 steps a day. 


If you are interested in joining the Scotty's team, you can apply by filling out our entire online application, here, or start out by filling out our quick mobile application here.

Our way of saying "Thanks" to the Indiana Dept. of Public Works

PlowOver the last few days county and city workers have spent countless hours helping to ensure that people are safe and the roads get cleared. To show our appreciation for all their hard work and for getting the roads open to allow customers to visit local businesses, Scotty’s Brewhouse and Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Company will be offering a 25% discount and a free coffee or non alcoholic beverage to these dedicated workers Wednesday and Thursday, January 8th and 9th.

“Our entire business revolves around guests being able to get out on the roads and safely drive to our locations,” said Scott Wise President and CEO of a Pots and Pans Production which operates both restaurant concepts. “Without these hard working individuals getting the roads back open, weather like this could really hurt local businesses.”

 For the next 2 days any city or county worker that shows their government ID will receive a 25% for lunch or dinner and also a free non alcoholic beverage of their choice. This offer will be available at all Scotty’s Brewhouses throughout the state as well as Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Company.

 “Every year we offer discounts to our military heroes on Veterans Day and Memorial Day. We wanted to do something similar for the hard working employees who helped during this historic weather as they are heroes in the eyes of all the local businesses in Indiana,” continued Wise.

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Scotty’s Brewhouse has six locations throughout the state and will be opening a seventh and eighth location in the coming months in Brownsburg and Fort Wayne. Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Company, which brews beer for all the Scotty’s locations, as well as 50 other eateries and bars throughout the state, is located in Broad Ripple. For more information about locations or business hours visit www.scottysbrewhouse.com

'Tis the Season of Giving at Scotty's

The Holiday Season is upon us and that means the Scotty’s team is hard a work on two big giving initiatives. The first event will be the 4th annual “Feast for the Less Fortunate” on Thanksgiving Day at their Downtown Indianapolis location. This will be followed up with a trip to Riley Children’s Hospital in December to deliver toys to the patients that have been donated by customers at all of the Scotty’s locations across the state.

“Four years ago we started our Thanksgiving dinner event and every year it has continued to grow and become better,” said Scott Wise, President and CEO of a Pots and Pans Production. “This year we are working with more than ten different shelters and organizations to provide a great meal to over 200 people.”

“I am very blessed to be in the position I am in and believe it is my responsibility to motivate others to do good in our society and give back to all our communities that so proudly support us.  I believe it is a social responsibility of success that you share this by reaching back and grabbing the hands of those that are less fortunate, clasp hands tightly and give someone a lift up,” continued Wise.

Not only does Scotty’s provide a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner to those attending, they also give toys to the children and gift cards to each of the adults. During the month of November guests are able to purchase paper turkeys at any of the Scotty’s locations. Guests can choose between a $1 or $5 turkey, place their name on it and then it hang it on the walls of the restaurants. The money from these sales will be used to buy toys for the children attending the event as well as gift cards to Marsh for the adults.

“Right now we have sold over $1,300 in turkeys, but we are behind our total of $2,500 from last year,” said Angie Henderson, who is in charge of organizing this year’s event. “We have more than enough volunteers, which is great, but we hope we can have a good final push in our donations.”

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All the food preparation, set up and service are provided by employees and guests who give the gift of their time to help make a difference. From wrapping gifts, to preparing the turkey and boxing up leftovers, it all happens from people who chose to donate their time.

Once Thanksgiving has passed, Scotty’s will begin preparing to deliver toys to the children at Riley Hospital for Children in December. Until December 13th, guests can come into any Scotty’s location, donate a toy and receive a free order of 7 Tidals buffalo Chicken Dip or a dessert.  On December 14th, all toys will be transported to the Scotty’s corporate office to be delivered to Riley by members of the Scotty’s team, led again by Scott in his charge to make people smile, even while in a little pain.

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If you would like to make a donation, some of the favorite toys for children are Legos, craft kits and anything Fisher Price. You can also visit Riley's website for information as to other ways to give back financially, donate items to the hospital, and volunteer your time.

"Some children are here for 23 hours, some are here for a few days, others can be here a month or longer.  Often, children are here for a few days, but may be readmitted several times throughout their life,” said Melissa Sexton, Child Life Specialist & Special Event Coordinator for Riley Hospital for Children. 

"The patients and their families make my job amazing.  They all have such a resilient spirit and face challenges head on.  I love being able to provide opportunities for them to feel "normal" again.”

If you would like to buy a turkey to help with our Thanksgiving event or donate a toy for the children of Riley Hospital, please visit any Scotty's Brewhouse or Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Company. The final day for Turkey donations is November 25th and the final day for toy donations is December 13th

Investors pour $5 million into beer technology firm

Source: Inside Indiana Business

Author: Dan Human

Investors have poured another $5 million into a Carmel tech startup with big plans for the beer industry.

SteadyServ Technologies LLC, founded in February 2012, recently secured the venture funding in anticipation of a product rollout in the first quarter of next year, company founder and CEO Steve Hershberger said Friday. The $5 million stacks onto $1.5 million SteadyServ received earlier this year.

The company spent its first year and half in business refining its product, iKeg—a system with a sensor that monitors beer left in metal kegs and sends alerts to mobile devices when supplies are low.

The 12-employee firm expects to generate less than $100,000 in revenue outside of investments this year as it works out its product’s issues during beta testing. That will change starting next year, if all goes according to plan.

SteadyServ plans to hire 75 to 100 people—including salespeople, software developers and back-office workers—and record at least $25 million in annual sales within a couple of years. It has already received commitments from customers as large as Anheuser-Busch, Hershberger said.

That's warp-speed growth for a startup heading into its second year of business.

“When we started, the guidance was to follow the Indiana playbook to raise money: ‘Do it small, be conservative and take baby steps. Don’t think about anything bold,’” Hershberger said. “We thought, ‘You know, here’s the problem. This idea just can’t be half-present. It’s either an absolute dud and didn’t work, or it’s going to be very successful.’”

The idea for iKeg brewed from Hershberger’s own work experiences. A software developer by trade, he also helped start Flat 12 Bierwerks just east of downtown.

Restaurants and bars often resort to rudimentary methods, such as shaking a keg, to determine how much beer is left in containers. iKeg, which sends reports to mobile devices when a keg is low, helps customers better stay on top of beverage orders and prevents them from throwing out unconsumed beer.

“If it’s off by 2 or 3 percent, is it a big deal? In terms of restaurant economics, it’s a real big deal,” said Ryan Kellerman, director of beverage hospitality for the Scotty’s Brewhouse restaurant chain, which is testing iKeg.

SteadyServ has tweaked its product as it received feedback from testers and prospective customers. For instance, instead of reporting a keg’s remaining beer as a percentage or a fluid measurement, the company developed a metric that servers can understand: pints.

Instead of targeting a lot of small deals with bars and restaurants, SteadyServ looks for business from distributors, which typically have larger budgets and more willingness to invest in technologies such as iKeg.

There's little competition in the market at the moment. With Hershberger’s background in both technology and the beer industry, investors saw a lot of potential, said Douglas Conner, managing director at Periculum Advisors LLC in Carmel, which brokered the funding rounds.

“It is ambitious,” Conner said about the growth plan. “We also think the prize is big. Not moving quickly is almost criminal as well.”

Thr3e Wise Men Brewery plans to can brews, open franchises

Source: Indy Star

Writen by: Chris Sikich

Hear the name Thr3e Wise Men Brewery and you might draw to mind Christmas tales about old men bearing gifts.

Scott Wise, though, named the brewery after himself and his two sons: literally three Wise men. It’s really more like one Wise man and two half, or perhaps, pint-size men. Scott’s sons, Slater and Lincoln, are 6 and 4 years old.

You can find gifts of a sort at the brewery, the kind drawn from a tap after a long walk down the adjacent Monon Trail or a tough day at work. And Scott hopes to make those beers easier to find.

He has been brokering deals to get the brews on tap at area bars and restaurants but, like a lot of other craft brewers , has found the competition stiff. So Scott plans to start canning by December. He will roll out the Rocky Ripple Pale Ale and Snow Bunny Blonde first.

Scott also plans to franchise the bar and pizza joint, though he’ll keep brewing up the beer for his potential franchisees at the Broad Ripple location. Expect Thr3e Wise Men locations to open elsewhere in Indiana, and perhaps as far away as South Carolina.

His brewmaster, Omar Castrellon, is brewing about 3,000 barrels this year and has room to more than double that capacity.

Scott’s come a long way in the past 15 years. He opened the first Scotty’s Brewhouse near Ball State’s campus.

That beer house was ambitious back then.

Scott had 30 draft taps at a time when most bars still were serving mostly Budweiser, Coors and Miller products. Craft drinkers — and there were few such people — were lucky if the bartender could pull a draft of Sam Adams or Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

How times have changed. Now, brewers are competing for valuable tap space.

Scott figures it’ll be easier to can and market the pizza joint/brewery idea. So far, his business sense has been right.

Random Thr3e Wise Men facts:

■ Scott’s first beer was named after his childhood best friend, Sean Benson, who moved to Oregon. It took Scott 10 years to visit Sean out in Portland. When the two finally got together for a pub crawl, Scott opened up about his dream of owning a brewery. Sean called Scott a “centennial martyr” for the time it took to get together and told him that could be the name of his first beer. Challenge accepted!

■ Scott’s favorite beer is his Golden Zoe IPA, named after his golden retriever, Zoe. Scott owned the dog for 12 years, but Zoe didn’t get to see Thr3e Wise Men open.

■ The Blackberry wheat is named after Scott’s wife and daughter, 2 Lucy’s Blackberry Wheat.

■ You can follow Scott Wise’s adventures on Twitter, along with more than 20,000 other people, at @brewhouse.

Scotty’s Rolls Out New Limited Time Menu at Exclusive Event

On Monday, August 26th, Scotty’s Brewhouse previewed their new, limited time only menu at their 96th Street restaurant in Indianapolis. The guest list of 50 people consisted of social media influencers as well as guests who were selected through a Twitter contest. 

“We believe our social media followers have been so integral to our success that we’re always looking for ways to thank them,” said Scott Wise, President of a Pots and Pans Production.  “We thought it would be cool to give them a sneak peak of everything we are rolling out, a free meal and some other goodies.” 

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Take a look at the new menu here

The evening kicked off with Wise talking to the guests about the inspiration for some of the dishes as well has how he goes about creating the menu. Wise then went over some of the many promotions the restaurant offers including their VIP Program (which rewards guests for purchases made at any of their locations), in-store Football Parlay Betting (winners receive gift cards), as well as Live Music at their downtown location before Colts games and many others. 

Guests were then treated to an enormous meal which included six rounds of food and drink. Each round consisted of two entrees or appetizers as well as one of six new cocktails which debuted at all Brewhouse locations on Tuesday, the 27th

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“I regret that I have but one stomach to give for my @brewhouse,” joked Robby Slaugther, one of the guests at the event, on Twitter.

In addition to all the food and drinks, each guest received a gift bag filled with a glass growler, a Thr3e Wise Men Pint glass and a bottle of one of Scotty’s signature sauces.

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See photos of the event here

Over the course of the evening, hundreds of tweets, Instagram pictures and Facebook updates were posted by those in attendance, prompting non-attendees to experience hunger pangs. 

One twitter follower, @AshleySieb, tweeted, “Drooling over all these #NewFallMenu tweets via @brewhouse – how does a pregnant lady get an invite for the next time?;)”

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Take a look at the social activity here

Scotty’s plans to continue to host preview events as new menus approach. Guest lists will be filled by sending out personal invitations as well as holding contests to give everyone a chance to attend. 

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Check out some of the blog posts that have already been published by a few of the attendees.

Spaldo Business – Man meets menu: My second time as a @brewhouse food taster

Around Indy – Scotty’s Brewhouse Rolls Out New Fall Menu

Solid Gold Eats – New Fall Menu at Scotty’s Brewhouse + Giveway

Do you have a Food blog or are you a social media influencer who would like to be included on the guest list for the next tasting event? Is so, send an email to socialmedia@scottysbrewhouse.com telling us why you want to attend.

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WIN A $10 GIFT CARD– Want to win a Scotty’s $10 Gift Card? Dine at any Brewhouse location between now and Sunday September 1st, try a new menu item and then post about it on your social media avenue of choice and you will be entered to win. Be sure to use the hashtag #NewFallMenu in your post. We will pick 10 winners on Monday for a $10 gift card.

My Day at Dayspring

One of the great things I love about working for Scotty’s is the ability to volunteer and help out in the community. Scott challenges all of his employees to “donate time, mind and soul” every 90 days to a charity or organization in need. The company even coordinates opportunities for you to allow you to meet this goal. Whether it is building a home for Habitat for Humanity, delivering toys to children at Riley Hospital, hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless at our downtown location, we are given opportunity after opportunity to make a difference.

One such opportunity happened last week. I got to go with a group of employees to Dayspring Center, here in Indianapolis, and help out in their kitchen during lunch. Dayspring Center provides emergency shelter, clothing, and three nourishing meals-a-day for homeless families with children in central Indiana.

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Nine of us went and spent the afternoon serving lunch, washing dishes, cutting cakes for snacks and organizing their pantries. When we first arrived we were introduced to Roscoe, a retired executive from Whitney Bose, who now donates his time making sure the kitchen runs like clockwork. Roscoe explained the purpose of Dayspring center and assigned each of us different responsibilities.

“I have had several jobs during my life, some of which paid me a lot of money, but I have never had a job that has been as fulfilling as this one,” Roscoe told me as we were cleaning up after the lunch rush.

Dayspring houses 14 families at a time. Each family is allowed to stay up to 45 days to try and get back on their feet. They continue to support these families after they leave with programs including summer camps for children who have previously stayed in the facility.

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“Most of these children haven’t had a lot of people be nice to them and they recognize when volunteers come in and donate their time. It means a lot to them and helps to impact their lives.” Roscoe reflected.

If you are interested in donating time, food or money to Dayspring you can find out more information about them at the website http://dayspringindy.org/.

For my coworkers and me it was a great day to give back, see the smiling faces of the families and MAKE A DIFFERENCE. We have many more community activities coming up. If you would like to volunteer or help Scotty’s give back to the community feel free to contact Angie Henderson for more information at ahenderson@scottysbrewhouse.com.

How to build family loyalty at restaurants

Source: National Restaurant News
Written by: Ron Ruggless

Experts and operators say restaurants need to look at the big picture — atmosphere and service, along with menus — to foster family loyalty.

That family loyalty can lead to large-check repeat business, said Julie Casey, who has worked with such big brands as Outback Steakhouses and now consults on family experiences as chief executive of Radius Three Marketing. “Moms with kids going out to eat are willing to drive farther to a restaurant than other consumer demographics,” Casey told a National Restaurant Association show audience in Chicago last week.

Families are willing to drive, on average, 15.2 miles for a good family-dining experience, she said. “That has huge implications for you, especially if you are not kid-friendly,” Casey warned, “because they are going to drive right past you and go to somewhere else that is.”

Restaurant sales to families with children are showing strength, according to recent research from GuestMetrics LLC. In the first quarter, full-service restaurants saw sales growth of kid-specific items outpace increases in overall menu items.

Bill Pecoriello, chief executive of the Leesburg, Va.-based menu analytics firm, said kid-specific food sales rose about 12 percent during the first quarter of 2013 compared to the 1-percent growth achieved by the overall food category. "Additionally, the 12-percent growth was a healthy acceleration from the 4-percent growth in 2012," he said, "so kid-specific food appears to be picking up momentum.”

Guestmetrics found that of 600 kid-specific food items it analyzed, nearly 40 percent of sales came from just five items: chicken fingers, burgers, cheese pizza, chicken tenders and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Some restaurants are providing two kids menus, such as younger and older versions at Texas Roadhouse. “It is two different price points, and it’s even different choices as well,” said Casey, who has conducted research on kids' programs since 2007.

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Other restaurants offer parents the option of having dishes “toddler-chopped,” which saves them the time of cutting up items for the kids. “We tell our staff to not only ask if they want the food for kids brought out first, we also ask them if they want the kitchen to cut up the food before it’s served,” said Scott Wise, president and chief executive of Pots & Pans Production with seven-unit Scotty’s Brewhouse and other concepts in Indianapolis, Ind. “Your kitchen is probably going to hate it, but the parents love it.”

While the menu is important, other factors, such as atmosphere and service, play a big part in family loyalty, said Casey. “It is cross-departmental, it is cross-functional,” she said. “It is not something that’s just a new kids’ menu, and you say that’s family loyalty — it’s not. It’s big picture. It’s menu. It’s service. It’s amenities.”

The friendliness of the staff also enhances the experience, said Casey, whose surveys have found that parents like servers to talk with the children. “You can go back to your restaurant tomorrow and require every single one of your staff members to talk to every single kid that walks in the door, and I promise you that those families will be leaving and telling everybody how friendly the staff at your restaurant is — just by that one action,” she said.

Digital technology is also an option to entertain kids and make the restaurant visit memorable enough that they wan to return, Casey said. “Kids are playing on technology on the way to your restaurant. They are playing with it while they are there. And they are playing it again as they leave,” she said.

About 25 percent of kids in Casey’s studies took a mobile device such as a smartphone, iPod or tablet computer to the restaurant. About 41 percent want a restaurant’s kids program to include something digital, she said.

Texas Roadhouse, for example, has a tablet-computer coloring app that unlocks new content on each subsequent visit. “You can also push messages out,” Casey said, “and the kids can share the pictures on Facebook, email or print them out.”

Wise also noted that most families have smartphones, so he’s added QR codes to the menu that direct to links with photos of all the kids’ menu items, a Justin Bieber music video or a Nickelodeon game website. “They all link to something that is kid-friendly,” he said.

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In addition, activity sheets that the kids can take home should be a part of a restaurant’s children’s program. “That’s a huge, huge door opening for a restaurant,” Casey said. “They are going to take your brand home with them if this is better quality.”

Casey’s research found that children want updated content on those activity sheets. “You can’t drive family loyalty with the same tic-tac-toe sheet month after month after month after month,” she said. “You are essentially wasting money and throwing it out the door because you are printing a napkin.”

Wise also provides chests for the tables where children can pick their toys. He also emphasized fun, creating an octopus-shaped turkey hot dog with a mustard face, an idea he got from Pinterest, the photo-sharing scrapbook-style website.

Christopher Janush, vice president of marketing for the 37-unit Edgewater, Md.-based Greene Turtle casual-dining chain, said a brand audit produced a brand repositioning last July that put new emphasis on families, even though the concept had a sports-bar image.

“We wanted to target families with our sports grill-and-bar concept,” Janush said. Besides working on the menu, he said, the Greene Turtle’s televisions in booths now include the Cartoon Network and Nick Jr. as well as sports channels, the website and Facebook page features children in brand photo shots and menu covers highlight kids.

One planned effort is an extension of the adult “Mug Club” program in a kids’ version. “They will be able to take the mug home and bring it back in for a milkshake on Wednesday or something like that,” Janush said. “They’ll see the mug at home and get mom or dad to take them back to The Greene Turtle.”