LOUISVILLE Colo. Rock Bottom Restaurants Inc. said it plans to debut a new "polished casual" concept next month in Omaha, Neb. The new restaurant, Rock Bottom Gold Medal Tap, will focus on craft beers from Rock Bottom's proprietary lineup and microbrewers around the United States.
In addition to the requisite emphasis on specialty beers, the brewpub concept will have a large selection of cocktails, infused spirits and wine. The menu reportedly will feature steaks, seafood, build-your-own burgers, flatbreads and prime-rib specials on the weekends.
"This is kind of a hybrid concept for us, which should allow us to make it more attractive for potential franchisees that want to align with Rock Bottom but don’t want to incur the cost of building a brewery," said Dave O'Connor, franchise marketing manager for Rock Bottom Restaurants.
The company first learned how to execute the Rock Bottom concept without an on-site brewery at franchised locations in the Denver and Minneapolis international airports, O'Connor said.
"We found that we couldn't build a brewery, but we could ship in our beers to serve on tap and carry a selection of others," he said. "So we said, let's see if we could do this in other areas."
All the Rock Bottom-brewed beers available at Gold Medal Tap have won the top prize at either the Great American Beer Festival or the World Cup of Beer competition. The other brands of craft beer to be served at the new concept are meant to be beers that Rock Bottom's brewers would drink if they couldn’t imbibe the company hooch, O'Connor said.
According to Rock Bottom, momentum from a strong showing at last year's Great American Beer Festival spurred development of the Gold Medal Tap concept.
"When we were named the 2008 Large Brew Pub of the Year by the Great American Beer Festival, we began to consider new ways of bringing our gold-medal-winning beers to different parts of the country," said Buck Warfield, senior vice president of development for Rock Bottom Restaurants. "This new hybrid concept allows us to serve our great hand-crafted beers to more people in more places. The creative energy and exuberance of Omaha's Old Market District made it the perfect place to debut Rock Bottom Gold Medal Tap.
"We're excited about the growth potential for this concept and are currently discussing new franchise developments in additional markets."
Gold Medal Tap is to be the first restaurant built under a franchising agreement with multiconcept operator Cutchall Management Company. Omaha-based Cutchall has 36 restaurants in five states under the Sonic, Famous Dave's, Paradise Bakery, Tin Star, Progressive Park and Burger Star brands.
Rock Bottom Restaurants had annual sales of $312 million in 2008. The company operates 64 Old Chicago casual-dining units, 33 Rock Bottom Breweries, four ChopHouse & Brewery locations, two Sing Sing piano bars and one Walnut Brewery. The company franchises an additional 34 Old Chicago units along with two Rock Bottom airport outposts and one ChopHouse airport location.