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Chicago-Based Firm Taps Into Self-Pouring Bar Technology

January 2, 2018

In its second year in business, Chicago-based Innovative Tap Solutions has won over more than 125 bars and restaurants to its self-pouring beverage technology, called PourMyBeer, signaling that on-premise owners are steadily accepting the do-it-yourself concept. Recent converts include a Whole Foods in Brooklyn, New York, three Milano Restaurant Group outlets in California and two Fresh to Order restaurants in Indiana. Buffalo Wild Wings has signed with PourMyBeer for a new restaurant going up near Minneapolis.

PourMyBeer has doubled the size of its business in 2017, and the brand’s owner, 38-year-old Josh Goodman, expects it to double again in 2018. There’s much work to be done on the regulatory front: Goodman has had to appear before every state liquor control board to get approvals for the technology. For now, Texas, Oregon, Michigan, Utah, Vermont, Montana and Washington state are not permitting it, though Goodman continues to lobby their legislatures for changes in the law.

Regulators in other states have been convinced by the safeguards built into the system, which features tap handles lined along walls and customers using RFID cards waved in front of computer screens to commence a pour. A card will only buy a customer the equivalent of two beers or 12 ounces of wine.

Installing PourMyBeer can cost around $1,700 per tap handle upfront, followed by maintenance fees that the company charges to keep everything running smoothly. Operators typically recoup the costs by reducing their bartending staff by one or two people per shift. “We’re at the beginning of a new wave in bar service,” argues Goodman. “We won’t be in 50% of all bars. But I think that we could be in 10% of all bars in the U.S. eventually.”

There will be competition along the way, of course. Rivals include iPourIt of Lake Forest, Calif., and Table Tap in Norcross, Ga. Overseas, Tabology Ltd. in London, formerly called Robot Pub Group, has been coming on fast. Goodman’s goal is to expand by offering more wines, ciders and ready-mixed cocktails at PourMyBeer locations.

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