Even eager customers can have trouble sorting through the profusion of options a wine bar's wine list presents. Meant to inform, that list can be a formidable obstacle for the non-aficionado guest. Helping them make their choice is a key marketing challenge wine bar operators face.
So why not let guests educate themselves and pay you in the process? That's how the owners of Gamekeeper's Hospitality have set up their new 87 West 2 wine bar located at Crocker Park, an upscale lifestyle center in Westlake, OH. Standout selections, both red and white, from the operation's 120-bottle list are housed in an Enomatic wine system accessed via a prepaid “smart card.” Arriving guests are seated, place their order from 87 West 2's snappy small plates menu and tell their server how much to put on their card. Then they head for one of the operation's two Enomatic machines, insert their card, make their selection and get a two-ounce pour. Prices range from $3.75 up to $20. Two ounces of Opus One, for example, go for $18.25.
The format enables guests to make head-to-head comparisons quickly. Self-directed sampling is, of course, an immediate revenue driver, and guests frequently opt for a full bottle of a particular wine after first checking it out via their “smart card.”
The system fits neatly with the rest of 87 West 2's strategy. “Guests really have the opportunity to take control and diversify their own experience at their own pace, without making hard commitments to any single drink, cocktail or dish,” says Gamekeeper's Tom Lutz. “It's all about giving guests choices in their own experience.” Prepaid, if possible.