We recently sat down with Brittany Saxton, owner and GM at Bellefontaine, Ohio's Six Hundred Downtown. We talked about the local beer scene, how a world-class pizza place embraces craft beer, and how printed beer menus increased 600 Downtown's average bill size by $12.
Saxton at Six Hundred Downtown.
Brittany Saxton has been in the service industry for more than 15 years. So, when her place of employment, 600 Downtown, came up for sale, she seized the opportunity. Business plan in hand, she moved from employee to owner/GM and began making the restaurant her own.
To be clear, that transition started from a great foundation: an extremely well-respected pizza menu, a well-oiled food program, and the physical space to run a great beer program.
To the well-prepared Saxton, the last area was her first point of attack: “I looked at what we could do to increase sales without interrupting our kitchen's flow,” she said. “The previous owner hadn't done much with rotating beers, so that's what I looked at first.”
So Saxton laid the groundwork for a rotational beer program. She established a solid relationship with some hyper-local breweries—notably Moeller Brew Barn, which, according to the extremely well-organized Saxton, “is one hour and fourteen minutes away”—and organized her team around a rotational beer program.
But that was just step one. Next up she had to figure out how to better market those beers inside her restaurant.
Prior to using printed beer menus, Saxton had relied on a chalkboard to list her beers. This turned out to be trouble, for both her servers and her customers. “When a customer had a question about a beer, the servers would have to strain their necks to look at the chalkboard. It looked like we had a flock of ostriches for servers.”
Customers had similar trouble themselves, let alone the awkward pauses they had to endure from their ostrich-necked servers.
The print menus solved both problems. Customers can now read about the rotating beers before the server even arrives at their table. If customers still have questions, Saxton's servers are well-prepared, since the print menu descriptions help them learn important talking points about their newest beers.
Six Hundred Downtown's automatic print menus in action.
The results speak for themselves: “Compared to when we didn't use the print menus, our average check size has gone up by more than $10—from $15 to $27,” Saxton said. “It happened almost instantly.”
Of course, that improvement to the bottom line is most important. But ease of use is also important to Saxton, who, admittedly, is “not a very computer-literate person.” Still, both she and her managers find the BeerMenus system extremely easy to use. This means that no matter who is manning the floor, 600 Downtown updates its BeerMenus instantaneously.
The keg kicks, they update BeerMenus with their phone, and then they hit print. Just like that, up-to-date menus are on every table.
Asked if she would recommend BeerMenus, her answer was simple: “yes.” After a second's pause, she added, “I mean, we're installing our Digital Beer Boards today, so I just keep buying from you guys. I have zero negatives.”
This was the first I've heard of that, so I checked with one of our sales guys, Gage, to make sure it was true. Indeed, Saxton had just upgraded to Digital Beer Boards. They're already up and running.
Check out 600 Downtown on BeerMenus, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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