Tap into Profit
THE DECOR, AMBIENCE, music and human anatomy are major factors for both fine-dining aficionados and marathon bar-hoppers when selecting establishments from which to indulge in weekend-long merrymaking. While these eye- (and ear-) catching ingredients work in tandem to draw patrons into dimly lit, neon-laced nooks and crannies, truth be told, it is spirited drinks, such as beers, wines and cocktails that keep frolickers there. However, besides the overabundance of wine and spirits, there also are a host of promotional items that serve to attract party-goers from tavern to tavern, ultimately attracting them to advertisers’ brands.
If a distributor thinks barware could only be sold to restaurants and cafes, think again. According to Fred Haleluk, president of Mr. Ice Bucket-Shelton Ware, New Brunswick, N.J., a primary market for barware—including ice buckets, champagne buckets, wine coolers and serving trays—is hotels.
While the company’s wine coolers and champagne buckets largely are geared toward the retail sector, Haleluk said promotional products distributors wanting to experience intoxicating profits should consider adding ice buckets to their repertoire. “We sell ice buckets that have the coverings on them that can match what a designer might have chosen for the wall decor of the hotel,” he explained.
Glassware is undergoing a revolution of sorts in bar and restaurant circles. Frank Chiorazzi, president of Salinas, California-based Franmara, said the category is becoming more adventurous. He pointed to the growing range of colors and flashy styles, particularly among cocktail shakers, as an example.
Haleluk concurred. “One of the things we are doing in barware right now is ... an art deco glass,” he noted. The colorful, Venetian-like glass is created by molding more than one type of glass together, resulting in a heavier product. “That’s what we’ve done with our cocktail shakers, our ice buckets, a water pitcher and an 11 oz. cocktail glass,” he said, adding the items were well-received at a recent trade show in New York.
Quality always is a factor in the promotional products industry, but it is especially important when dealing with glassware for bars and restaurants. The stress an item receives from industrial dishwashers and extended use is tremendous. For this reason, Pam Aldrich, sales manager at Megafast, Excelsior Springs, Mo., said it is very important for any glass or ceramic item to have an imprint that is fired onto it. Much like the coating on a mug, firing transforms the imprint into a glassy surface that becomes part of the item, ensuring the imprint will survive the rigors of industrial use. “It’s a lot more economical for a supplier to sell a mug or glass that’s not fired,” she explained, but the trade-off is the imprint will not last as long. In the end, it is more beneficial to spend a little more for a higher quality piece of merchandise.
Quality also comes strongly into play when dealing with other bar and restaurant accessories, said Chiorazzi. “Taking a cork out of a bottle, for instance, [requires] a lot [of force],” he explained. Pulling a cork generates up to 220 pounds of pressure, which is more than enough to destroy a poorly manufactured corkscrew.
Just like the trendy patrons that sit atop barstools night after night, there are trends taking place in barware. An area that’s changed immensely over the last several years, according to Haleluk, is the use of metal. “We’ve always manufactured ice buckets that have a flannel cover ... or an imitation leatherette covering, but now, stainless steel ... has been coming back,” he noted. While the company offers ice buckets, champagne buckets and wine coolers in the classic metal, it also produces them with flannel or leatherette coverings on the outside and a stainless steel interior for, “that modern look that’s high-tech right now,” he said.
The growing popularity of wine has led to numerous accessories. The culture generally associated with wine allows for many complementary items. Haleluk said wine buckets are popular in restaurant chains, and a new wine accessory offered by Franmara, the Vinturi Wine Aerator, helps add oxygen to wine as it is being poured into a glass, Chiorazzi explained.
Why not barware? Not only do restaurants need it year-round, but there are other opportunities to promote, sell and use dining equipment. “November to February is the time of the year when sales are the highest in barware,” Haleluk said. “Even though they may only use it once per year, if someone has a party, they will definitely use [barware] because they have people at their home during Thanksgiving or the Super Bowl.” Aldrich, on the other hand, noted glass and drinkware are “solid movers all year long.”
People will always need to eat and drink, and, as they serve patrons, bars and restaurants will always need the accoutrements to bring beverages to the table. Distributors truly can be the heroes as they find ways to help patrons and restaurateurs alike.