Beer Tubes “spike” draft sales, strike a chord at piano bar

Beer Tubes™ sell an “extra keg per day” at Spike’s Phillys and More sports bar, draft sales increase 65 percent at Bobby McKey’s when tubes added to menu.

Sometimes our story is best told by our customers, so let’s revisit a news release from May 2012 that shows the “power of the Beer Tube.”

Most owners will attest that running a successful bar or restaurant takes hard work, attention to detail, and a “hook” to get noticed and keep customers coming back. Bar business basics say feature high-margin items and deliver a positive customer experience to meet annual sales and profitability goals. Tom Guthrie needed a hook when he opened Spike’s Phillys and More sports bar in Spokane, WA last year, and when his beer distributor suggested Beer Tubes™, he had a hunch he’d found it. A little over a year and nearly 6500 tubes of beer later, the hunch has paid off as Guthrie now credits Beer Tubes for selling, on average, an extra keg of beer per day.

Spike’s boasts a total of 58 tubes –18 more than the number of tables in the 237-person capacity restaurant. In line with the sports bar theme, Spikes’ Beer Tube collection includes various sports bases. “We’ve got every sports design they make,” said Guthrie. “Some days we use them all, our record is 87 tubes in a day.” Since opening in March 2011, Spike’s has sold an average of 18 tubes per day, every day. Every 18 fills of a Beer Tube equals about one keg.

Beer Tubes are clear 100-ounce beverage dispensers that allow patrons to “self-serve” at their table. Comprised of three major parts – the tube, the tap and the base – tubes are constructed of 3mm-thick, heavy-duty, BPA-free, Eastman Tritan™ polycarbonate to keep beverages colder longer, and to stand up to repeated use in bar or nightclub environments. Beer Tubes sports bases include basketballs, baseballs, footballs, football helmets, hockey helmets, racing helmets, racing tires, golf balls, billiard balls and the original bowling balls. “We have a lot of repeat business and our staff has learned to remember which base a guest prefers,” said Guthrie. “It really helps give us the ‘neighborhood restaurant’ atmosphere we want to present.”

Guthrie has truly embraced tubes as a major attraction at Spike’s. His tubes are prominently displayed so customers must pass them at the entrance, and the tubes are featured weekly. “We’ve turned Tuesday into ‘Tubesday’ and we have shirts that read ‘I got tubed at Spike’s',” Guthrie added. Spike’s offers draft beer in pints, 23-oz. glasses, or 64-oz. pitchers in addition to the tubes. Guthrie said, “Thursday is $1.50 pints, but at $14 – $16, the tubes are still just as popular.”

Servers at Spike’s say the tubes make serving easier and result in less spillage than pints or pitchers. However, the servers did have to tweak their table check-in procedures. “Most of our servers were accustomed to monitoring guests’ drink levels to gauge when they needed to check in at the table,” said Guthrie. “With the tubes, drinks are refilled at the table, so now our servers stop by the table and top-off everyone’s glass, just like a wine steward does in a fine dining establishment.”

The Sweet Sound of Increased Sales: The Beer Tubes have also boosted draft beer sales in non-sports bar environments. Bobby McKey’s in National Harbor, MD added tubes to the menu to accommodate the large groups that frequent the 300-seat capacity piano bar. “We started with two tubes and now we have 25,” said Alison St. Clair, general manager. Since adding tubes to the menu in 2009, St. Clair reports a 65 percent increase in draft sales at McKey’s. “Many of our website photos include a Beer Tube because they’re always out throughout the bar,” she added.

McKey’s does most of its business on Friday and Saturday nights, and much of the clientele is comprised of groups celebrating big events. “One negative we had was tubes getting taken as a ‘souvenir’ of the evening,” said St. Clair. “But, we now require an ID to check out a tube and that works fine.” The three-part modular design of the tubes is also a plus in this high-use environment. “The tubes themselves are very durable and they sometimes outlast the taps,” said St. Clair. “So, we keep a couple of spare taps on hand. The old one pops out, the new one pops in and we’re ready to go.”

A Tube, a Tanker, a Promotion Maker: Other establishments use the tubes’ popularity, and customers’ desire to take one home, to their marketing advantage. Wings Etc. in Crystal Lake, IL uses tubes, or “Fuel Tankers” as they are known there, as incentives in loyalty programs and other on-site promotions. “Tankers are the top prize in our loyalty program,” said Michael Hensmann, owner. “We’ve also used tankers as a drawing prize to encourage customers to sign up for our e-mail club, and as a door prize for a special in-house event.” The Wings Etc. loyalty program allows customers to accumulate “fanatics points” via food and beverage purchases. Points are then redeemed for food, apparel or Beer Tubes.

To see a video on how Beer Tubes work, or for additional information about how they can help boost the bottom line, visit


The Beer Tubes Guys

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