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Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery

Sales: $124.7 million (–3.3%)
Headquarters: Louisville, Colo.
Market segment: Casual Dining
No. of units: 33 (–10.8%)
ESPU: $3.6 million (+5%)
Year founded: 1991

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery has grown as a more polished casual-dining concept that showcases what today’s consumers want: craft beer. Rock Bottom offers more than 700 original microbrew and specialty beers, as well as wine and cocktails. The chain is known for its beers brewed on-site, a trend that has growing appeal for Millennials.

The menu at Rock Bottom includes grilled items, burgers, sandwiches and pizzas, with an emphasis on scratch-made selections. Despite the beer focus, families are welcome, and the menu includes kids’ offerings.

Rock Bottom in 2010 was acquired by Centerbridge Partners L.P., which merged the brand with Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group Inc. to create CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries Inc. In addition to Rock Bottom and Gordon Biersch, the company operates and franchises the Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, ChopHouse & Brewery, Bluewater Grille, A1A Ale Works, Ragtime Tavern Seafood & Grill, Seven Bridges Grille & Brewery, Walnut Brewery, Sing Sing and Big River Grille & Brewing Works. It operates and franchises more than 200 brewery and craft-beer-focused restaurants.

Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant

Sales: $120.8 million (+4.1%)
Headquarters: Chattanooga, Tenn.
Market segment: Casual Dining
No. of units: 34 (+6.3%)
ESPU: $3.7 million (–3.8%)
Year founded: 1988

Every Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant location brews its own beer on-premises. While this isn’t new to Gordon Biersch — the company has been doing it for years — it allows the brand to capitalize on U.S. consumers’ growing taste for craft beers and to differentiate itself from the competition.

Owned by Centerbridge Partners L.P., the casual-dining brewpub concept has remained relevant over the past 25 years by evolving with the times.

In 2010 the company unveiled an On the Lighter Side menu, including 10 items with fewer than 575 calories each. In February it added 23 new menu items that capitalized on current food trends, including a quinoa-kale pilaf, sweet potato fries and Korean barbecue pork chops.

The company has jettisoned some of its sweeter cocktails and instead embraced classic cocktails. Gordon Biersch also added a Honey Basil Collins, which is a gin drink inspired by the classic Tom Collins cocktail, and the Veev Mule, a play on the Moscow Mule that is made with açaí spirit, mint, fresh lime and ginger ale.