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Top Beer Bar Chains, Showing Rapid Growth, Map Future Expansion Plans

February 25, 2014

Driven by consumer excitement over craft beer, the major beer bar chains are rapidly adding locations around the country. Miller’s Ale House, for example, operates 67 locations in 10 states, with at least three openings planned for this year. Founded by Jack and Claire Miller in 1988, the concept was acquired by Atlanta-based Roark Capital Group, a private equity firm, last year. Annual sales are around $300 million. Miller’s locations, none of which are franchised, range from 5,000-10,000 square feet and typically offer 40-50 different brews on tap and about 40 in bottles.

World of Beer, mainly a franchised beer bar concept operating nearly 60 locations around the country, plans to continue expanding. President and CEO Paul Avery says new World of Beer stores are now planned for New York City, Albany, Boston and Atlanta, while international activity is slated for 2015. World of Beer’s locations generally are 3,500-6,000 square feet and offer 40-50 brews on tap and up to 500 beers by the bottle. Unit sales generally surpass $1.2 million annually.

Other beer bar chains are also seeing fast growth. The Darden-owned Yard House brand now boasts about 50 locations and plans to open more, including a venue at the Linq Las Vegas launching this month. Ignite Restaurants’ Brick House Tavern + Tap opened four new locations in the fourth quarter of 2013, bringing its total to 20 units, and more new venues are planned this year. Flying Saucer, a beer bar pioneer, unveiled its 16th location in St. Louis last year, and Brass Tap—which operates 12 pubs in Florida, Ohio and Texas—plans expansion into Arizona.

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