Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

News Briefs for January 25, 2013

January 25, 2013

Beam Inc. is consolidating its U.S. bottling operations into its recently expanded Frankfort, Kentucky facility. The Frankfort plant, which currently bottles some 10 million cases of spirits annually, will take on bottling of Pinnacle vodka and Calico Jack in the first quarter of 2014. The two brands, which were acquired by Beam from White Rock Distilleries in 2012, are now bottled in Maine. Beam is currently reviewing options for its Maine facility, including a potential sale. Beam expects to add approximately 45 new jobs in Kentucky as a result of the consolidation. The company’s Kentucky operations include distilleries with bottling capability in Clermont, Frankfort and Loretto, as well as a distillery in Boston, Kentucky.

•South African winery KWV is launching a new brand, African Passion, in the U.S. Produced at KWV’s facilities in Paarl, South Africa, African Passion features seven varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Moscato, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend. The brand will donate 10% of its sales to the TransAfrica Forum, a Washington, D.C.-based organization focused on promoting human rights and social justice in Africa. In support of the launch, KWV has partnered with actor and TransAfrica board chair Danny Glover, who will serve as African Passion’s spokesperson and host a fundraising launch event in D.C. next month. In addition to African Passion, KWV also sells its KWV Classic Collection wines, Berraz Sweet Shiraz and Wild Africa Cream liqueur in the U.S.

•Tampa-based craft beer bar and retail concept World of Beer has appointed Paul Avery as its new president and CEO. Avery previously served as chief operating officer at Tampa-based OSI Restaurant Partners, the casual dining operation whose portfolio includes Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine. Avery replaces Ben Novello, who joined World of Beer from Outback Steakhouse in 2010 and is a former colleague of Avery’s at OSI. Novello will retain an executive role with World of Beer, which currently operates 36 outlets in 11 states and also has more than 200 franchise locations.

•Online flash wine retailer the Tasting Room has dissolved its website, Tastingroom.com, and has initiated a partnership with Lot18, an invite-only online wine boutique offering discounted and rare wines from around the world. The Tasting Room reached out to Lot18 earlier this month, and a deal was finalized this past week. “As this relationship evolves, Tasting Room customers will be offered more Lot18 products, and Lot18 customers will be offered an array of Tasting Room products,” said Lot18 CEO Jay Sung. To accommodate subscribers with outstanding orders, the Tasting Room is providing vouchers to be redeemed on the Lot18 website upon account setup.

•Yard House Restaurants plans to enter the Pacific Northwest market for the first time, with a new location set to open in downtown Seattle February 10. Located in the city’s Century Square Building and encompassing 13,000 square feet, the venue will have 130 beer taps fed from a glass-enclosed keg room housing hundreds of steel barrels. There will be seating for 467 diners, an island-shaped bar and an American fusion menu featuring numerous seafood choices. This will be the 43rd restaurant opened by Yard House, founded in 1996 in Long Beach (still its flagship with 250 beer taps) and now expanded to 15 states. Irvine, California-based Yard House averages a $14-a-person checks at lunch and $22 at dinner.

Southern Wine & Spirits is set to open a new facility in Salisbury, Maryland. Southern has leased a 2,500-square-foot space on Northwood Drive that will be used for regional sales and administration as well as a customer training location. Miami-based Southern, the U.S. market’s leading spirits and wine distributor, currently operates in 35 states across the country.

•The 27-unit casual dining chain Ground Round Grill & Bar is undergoing new expansion, and also has plans to roll out a new prototype and a new sports-themed concept. The franchisee-run chain has entered agreements to open five units in New Jersey and eight in Minneapolis and St. Paul over the next 10 years, four or five of which are expected to open this year. Ground Round will also be debuting a new prototype in Waconia, Minnesota, later this month. The new design, which will be added to existing units as well as new ones, features exterior and interior upgrades, including a new color scheme and a dining room divided into two separate sections, one for family dining and the other for a sports lounge. The company also has developed a new concept called Ground Round Sports Grille, which will be smaller than a traditional Ground Round and is designed for sites like airports and bowling alleys, featuring a smaller menu than that of Ground Round.

•Philadelphia-based restaurateur Stephen Starr is opening two dining concepts at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, taking over the spaces currently housed by the Garden Café and the Visitor Center Café. Details about the restaurants are scarce at this time, but Starr will also be launching on-site catering services in the garden, featuring menus from his Morimoto, Caffe Storico and Buddakan restaurants, and he will also be adding food kiosks and street carts throughout the garden. Renovations will begin this fall, and the new restaurants are slated to open in spring 2014.


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