Episode 68: John Kutac Shares What’s on Tap at Growler USA
When the craft brew industry took off, it wasn’t surprising to see a new industry emerge…the craft brew pub. One of the more interesting franchise concepts is Growler USA Kitchen & Taphouse. Its president, John Kutac, talks about its success in this episode.
The Growler USA Concept
“True to the Brew” is the Growler USA® Kitchen & Taphouse trademark. The concept combines America’s interest in craft beer with the power of franchising. Its visually stunning display of up to 100 taps, featuring regional and local microbrews, is delivered to its customers the same way it is at the brewery. Growler USA uses the same specs, including the equipment, pressure and delivery system, that is used at the brewery.
These beverages are complemented by a chef-driven menu in a comfortable, neighborhood atmosphere.
Currently, there are 31 locations in 19 states, including Hawaii. Started in Eugene, OR, the Growler concept has gone through several iterations. The original concept was literally a Growler Filling Station for customers to get beer to go. One of the founders, Steve Hurt, visited the location, was intrigued by the concept and bought it. Growler USA then morphed into a tap house with a limited kitchen to what it is today. Just recently launched, it is now officially named the Growler USA Kitchen & Taphouse and is a full-scale restaurant with 100 regional and local taps.
The Franchisee Profile
Most of the early adopters of Growler USA were beer makers who had been home-brewing for decades. Today’s franchise owners are more typically entrepreneurs who are investing in partnerships and treating it more as a business operation.
John says most of the franchise owners are driven and have excelled in the professional arena in some way. Despite their accomplishments, John believes the best franchise owners are the individuals who can check their egos at the door. He encourages owners to be honest, know their limitations, and hire and train people to fill in the necessary gaps.
Training & Certifications
Once the franchise agreement has been signed, John says the owners go through a university set up for about a week to learn about the software system and real estate and construction process. Then, they through three weeks of hands-on training running the back of the house, or kitchen, for two weeks and spending the last week training at the front of the house.
Just prior to opening, the franchisor sends in its own team…one who works in the kitchen with the employees and another who works with the servers and beer-tenders in the front of the house. Leading up to the opening, there are bi-weekly phone calls and lots of testing along the way.
Every employee is also required to get a Cicerone Certification, a program to educate beer professionals in a way that elevates the customer experience.
The Local Flavor
Johns says finding local microbrews to fill 100 taps is almost never a problem. Most cities and towns have three to six distributors that handle all the craft beers in the area. Distributors and microbrews are very supportive of the Growler USA concept because of its “true to the brew” attention to detail and focus on USA craft beer breweries. Like the microbrews, Growler USA pubs are ensconced in their communities. Events, fund-raisers, clubs and tastings take place almost every night.
Investments will vary depending on the real estate footprint but are typically between $600,000 to $900,000.
Connect with John
Company Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/growlerusafranchise/
Company Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/growler_usa/
Company LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/growler-usa/