Discover New Food Options for Your Taproom

Sometimes, all a brewery owner wants to do is worry about their beer in their taproom.

Expanding operations to include food can mean a number of licensing processes, including dealing with federal, state and local agencies along with having the logistics, insurance, staffing and liability issues at play.

That’s when partnering with local food trucks or catering services works well as a strategy. Having an open door policy to local restaurants can help consumers make the choice and expand their options on food as well.

Working in this venue can also be a way to gauge if having food on-site as a part of your business plan is an avenue.

For Indianapolis’ Round Town Brewery, owner Max Schenk said she has seen an evolution take place for many breweries, but the benefits of not having food for sale on site is the route they have chosen.

“If we did, it would have to be in a way that allowed us to remain dog friendly and did not require much additional build out, permitting or staffing,” she said. “We also like that beer is the only thing we do.

“For places that offer both, they have two areas in which they need to keep their customers satisfied. I would never want someone to leave Round Town saying “well the beer was good but the food sucked” and having that be their lasting impression of what we do.”

There are other avenues to having something available for consumers in a pinch, even something as simple as the addition of a popcorn machine to a tap room seemed to immediately improve sales, Schenk said.

“There certainly is a benefit to having something readily available when you are trying to keep seats filled,” she said.

Nick Garrison, the founder for Foolproof Brewing said his facility is willing to give any partner a shot, and based on those initial experiences, they then determine if the relationship has long-term potential.

“Most trucks and caterers are very receptive to coming to our brewery, ” he said about finding places that are available to work with the brewery, “though competition with conflicting events can be difficult to manage.”

Round Town’s most successful relationship has been with ClusterTruck.

“[It’s] great because it allows them to offer many different types of food without having to drive all over town to get it,” Schenk said. “They have been great about providing menus and signage, as well as discount cards for first-time customers.

“Their price point, portion size, and quality of product also works very well with our customer base. We order it for ourselves at least on a weekly basis, sometimes more.”

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