What to Say to: ‘I Don’t Like Beer’

founders brewing

With the ever-growing demand for craft beer, the breweries have to learn how to adapt and grow into new markets. However, within the brewery’s ecosystem, the taproom has also had to evolve with technology and consumer demand.

As Founders Brewing has grown its brewery, it hasn’t forgotten the importance of its taproom, which has simultaneously grown and expanded. With success in the taproom comes new opportunities and challenges. We reached out to Mark Dorich, the VP of retail operations for Founders Brewing, to tell us a little about the massive taproom at Founders.

BM: With the size of Founders’ taproom, what has been the most crucial system to its success?

MD: The most integral piece of managing the growth of our taproom over the last seven to eight years hasn’t been any equipment or technology, but rather people. Finding the right people who possess a genuine attitude and solid work ethic has been the most beneficial part of our success. You can teach systems and processes, but you can’t teach attitude and work ethic. A lot of us have worked here for years — a decade and even longer. We all enjoy coming to work each day and have put a lot of effort into finding like-minded people who feel the same.

BM: Over the past 15 years POS systems have evolved drastically. What POS do you utilize currently and why do you choose it for your taproom?

MD: We use Radiant Systems Aloha POS for many reasons. Because we operate in a somewhat unique way, Aloha is a great fit for us. The ability to have hundreds of open tabs at any moment that can all be shared by multiple employees at several terminals is probably the biggest benefit. The back end is very powerful and features just about every report you could ever need. While there isn’t necessarily a “perfect” POS system in existence, we’ve been pretty pleased with Aloha.

BM: What are some unique aspects of the Founders taproom that you find unique among other taprooms you’ve experienced?

MD: Other than sheer size, as I have yet to see a taproom operation as large as ours, I would again refer to our unique operations. Being a brewery taproom and not a traditional restaurant allows us to focus on beer first. Unlike traditional restaurants, we do not have hosted seating and we don’t look to “burn and turn” our tables. We don’t currently offer traditional food service tableside (except for lunch), nor do we offer a full traditional menu of apps, entrees, drinks and desserts. Instead, we want folks to enjoy their experience here in a laid back format, which could range from a quick beer after work, or a five-hour journey of tasting beer, food, enjoying live entertainment, etc. Don’t get me wrong, our deli and catering operations are a huge part of who we are, and have grown quite a bit over the years as well (not to mention make some delicious made-to-order sandwiches using fresh ingredients), but at the end of the day it is all about the beer. After all, we’re one of the largest manufacturing breweries in the Midwest; we’ve always tried to be sure to put the beer first and everything else second.


BM: How have you witnessed the every-day craft drinker evolve over the past several years? What do he or she look for from you today that’s different from yesterday?


MD: I’ve absolutely seen an evolution in the everyday craft beer consumer, but I feel it is more noticeable generally speaking than here at Founders, per se, as our taproom has always been host to a large, extremely diverse group of people. But instead of having a smaller “cult-like” following as we did in the past, over the last few years in particular, I’ve noticed more and more everyday folks entering into the craft beer segment. It just seems that more and more people out there are finding out that they want their beer to taste good, and the variety of different flavor profiles has increased substantially compared to their grandfather’s beer. It’s been amazing to watch countless people being dragged into our taproom by their craft-beer-drinking friends with the mindset of ‘I don’t like beer, I’m just here because s/he is,’ only to leave as a newfound fan of Breakfast Stout, Rubaeus, Dirty Bastard or another product of ours. In fact, our staff loves the challenge of having a customer tell them, ‘I don’t like beer.’ It gives them an opportunity to put their training, education and experience to work by leading that customer down a new path and into the craft beer fold. It is considered a personal victory by our service staff if they can indeed find you something you like!


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