What is in this article?:
- Twin Peaks: In-house brewery could be key to success
- Managing growth
The company's craft beer operation reduces costs and boosts profit.
Twin Peaks’ Irving, Texas, unit includes a brewpub and silo.
Front Burner Restaurants L.P., parent to the 52-unit Twin Peaks chain, sees its first in-house brewpub as a cost-effective source for its best-selling product: draft beer.
The Addison, Texas-based company will analyze the brewery, which started production in March, through the end of the year before deciding whether to expand the idea to other markets, said Randy DeWitt, chief executive of Front Burner Restaurants.
In addition to Twin Peaks, Front Burner also owns and operates seven Ojos Locos Sports Cantina, a concept similar to Twin Peaks that is aimed at the Hispanic market, as well as two fast-casual Velvet Taco restaurants and two upscale Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar casual-dining restaurants.
DeWitt spoke with Nation’s Restaurant News about growth at the casual-dining chain, which is known for its all-female waitstaff and 29-degree-Fahrenheit tap beers, and what the new 2,800-square-foot brewery addition to its Irving, Texas, unit will do for the company.
How important is beer to Front Burner’s bottom line?
Twin Peaks has a higher bar component than almost anything we have, other than Ojos Locos. It’s up there. It’s almost all draft beer. We serve our draft beer at 29 degrees and pour it into frozen mugs. That’s a big part of the experience at Twin Peaks. That’s what we believe is driving the sales. Draft beer is the most profitable way you sell beer.
How did the brewpub evolve?
We developed our own beer brands. We started out … private-labeling of local sourced beers, and we liked it so much we built the brewery.
What advantages does Twin Peaks have in craft beer?
Most people who open a craft brewery or microbrewery have to go out and find customers. Well, we’re our own customer. Our goal by the end of this calendar year is to get the beer into every single Twin Peaks in the state of Texas. [The company now has 21 Twin Peaks units in the state.] Once we do that, turning on our beer in every tap we have in the state, we’ll be at capacity for the brewery.
Do you see advantages in this model compared with other craft breweries?
There are very few breweries that can open up and inside of a year reach their max capacity without any selling costs. We don’t have to hire salesmen or brokers or anybody to go out and find us customers, … and we don’t have to incentivize retailers to carry our beer. It will really add to the profitability of our concept, both for our corporate stores and our franchisees in the market.
Do you plan others?
I’m going to wait until the end of the year and take a hard look at the profitability and the difficulty of operating the brewery and make a big decision as to whether we will build more brewpub versions of Twin Peaks with the hub-and-spoke system of distribution. I’d like to do it. I think it adds a new dimension to the concept. But it’s got to pass the business-case test first.
What are the offerings so far?
The vision was to have four beer “brands.” We’ve been very successful with the Twin Peaks Dirty Blonde, which is a wheat beer with a little Indian coriander and orange peel to spice it up a little. We’ve sourced that beer from a variety of producers in the past, but now we’re producing it ourselves. It’s the exact recipe we want and very consistent. We rolled that one out first and got it stabilized. We’re very happy. Then we went on to the Knotty Brunette, which is a brown ale. It’s a dark brown beer, but it’s accessible. That didn’t need any tweaking and has been very well accepted by our customers. Then we turned our attention to a golden ale, which is the entry-level craft beer. It’s a transition beer that’s not too heavy or too hoppy. We call that one the Gold Digger. That’s just now being rolled [out]. The last one is our IPA, which will be called the Jezebel. The recipe is still in development. We’re working on the logos and branding and tap handles.