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  • Jerry Thomas

Somabar’s Automated Bartender is Essential to any Food Service and Hospitality Reopening Plan

Facing the COVID-19 pandemic and the countless challenges associated with reopening foodservice and hospitality businesses across our country, this month Somabar® is debuting Touchless Automated Mixology (“TAM”), which together with Somabar’s numerous revenue-enhancing and contamination-minimizing features, makes Somabar essential to all restaurant, food service, and hospitality COVID-19 reopening plans.

Somabar, the world’s first commercially affordable professional automated bartender, crafts fresh and professional cocktails, each in under 10 seconds, without the need for significant staff training or human contact during drink preparation.

New Touchless Technology allows for Contactless Drink Preparation


Have you ever wished Siri could make you a cocktail? You can now ask Somabar to “Make me a drink” and your freshly crafted beverage will be prepared and poured in seconds. Not only does Somabar eliminate human interaction with ingredients during drink preparation, but with TAM-technology enabled, you are no longer required to touch the control tablet to make your drink selection. And as an added option for noisy locations, Somabar will provide touchpad styluses with commercial orders so waitstaff can tap Somabar’s control screen and avoid touching any shared surfaces.


Operating with Reduced Staff with Maximum Efficiency & Consistency


Reopening guidelines across the country require not only that tables are removed and fewer customers are allowed into restaurants and bars, but that staffing must also be reduced to limit staff density, movement, and contamination risk. Somabar’s professional cocktail machine allows foodservice establishments to provide professional cocktails without the need for a dedicated staff member or bartender. Cocktails are crafted simply by tapping on the desired drink’s image, or with TAM, by simply asking Somabar to make that cocktail. No mixology knowledge or training required. Any staff member can serve recipe-perfect cocktails in under 10 seconds, allowing smaller teams to operate efficiently while providing customers with consistently fresh and professional drinks they will love.



Minimize Contamination and Movement During Drink Preparation


Compare Somabar’s drink crafting process to cocktails made by hand, where multiple bottles are taken from their locations, placed on a counter, measured and mixed with various tools, poured into cocktail shakers or other containers, manipulated (shaken, mixed, strained) in a number of ways - all by human hands - and ultimately poured into a glass touched many times by both the bartender/drink preparer and waitstaff. Using Somabar, a drink order is either tapped or vocalized, and it is dispensed into a glass and ready for service within seconds. Not only does Somabar dramatically reduce the number of “touches” during the drink preparation process from dozens to virtually none, but it also significantly limits the zone of movement of the drink preparer. With Somabar, mere seconds are spent by waitstaff going to and from the machine. Traditional drink preparation by contrast has the bartender moving all about the drink service area completing the tasks described above; hastily grabbing and replacing bottles, moving to and from drink preparation areas, and back and forth to the sink to grab and clean and replace tools. This is simply too much chaotic movement in highly trafficked, cramped environments when the goal is to limit person-to-person and shared-surface contamination.


Lower Costs and Control Expenses


In planning a reopening in the time of COVID-19, operators will be appropriately cautious following the restart of dine-in operations as no one knows how quickly customers will return. This fact, together with regulations limiting the number of tables and customers that can be served, will impact decisions as to staffing size and the hours staff will be asked to work. And although operators may want to bring back their full staff as soon as possible, it is far from certain foodservice revenue will increase quickly enough to support a full team. Once again, Somabar can help our impacted bars and restaurants, enabling professional cocktail service without the need to hire additional workers or schedule specific staff with mixology training. Consistent, professional mixed drinks are available 24/7, and your automated bartender will never miss a shift or call in sick. And as an added benefit, Somabar tracks every drink made, limiting drink loss from over-pouring and free drinks, as well as returned cocktails due to inconsistent preparation.



Revenue Enhancement and the Takeout & Delivery Opportunity


From a revenue-generating perspective, one way to quantify the value of a restaurant or bar’s cocktail program is through its maximum gross revenue potential, which is found by multiplying Drink Preparation Velocity by Sales Price. When made by hand, even the simplest cocktail such as a classic daiquiri (light rum, simple syrup, lime juice) can take well over 2 minutes to craft. This means somewhere between 20 to 30 of these cocktails could be made per hour, and that is only if your bartender doesn’t collapse from exhaustion! With Somabar, a cocktail program’s value is supercharged by industry-leading fast and accurate cocktail preparation. It takes only 10 seconds for a classic daiquiri (or any other cocktail) to be crafted and dispensed, resulting in a maximum drink velocity 12 times greater than mixology by hand. That’s about 360 cocktails per hour. Combining accelerated drink velocity with highly profitable mixed drinks presents one of the most lucrative opportunities in the foodservice industry today.


In addition, many states and localities, including New York and California, have allowed for food service establishments during the COVID-19 pandemic to sell cocktails for takeout and delivery. This is an unprecedented revenue opportunity for most restaurants, including those that do not currently sell cocktails such as Beer & Wine-licensed locations. As a testament to the potential of takeout & delivery cocktails, 56% of consumers (age 21+) say they would order alcoholic beverages if offered with food delivery.


Beer & Wine Licensees, Salons and Barber Shops Can Serve Cocktails Right Now with Somabar


For many bars and full alcohol licensed restaurants, cocktails account for their highest margin sales. Yet a powerful secret at the best performing Beer & Wine-licensed locations is that they can legally serve cocktails as well, and these mixed drinks have become the latest trend and most exciting new revenue channel for these establishments. Somabar powers the creation of fermented liquor-based cocktails, which use ingredients such as Agave Wine (made by fermenting the agave plant) as a proxy for tequila (made by fermenting and distilling the agave plant) and other wine-license safe alcohols to make near-identical, and arguably healthier, completely legal cocktails. These wine-safe-cocktails include all the favorites such as Margaritas, Cosmopolitans, and Manhattans, and can also be sold for takeout and delivery by Beer & Wine-licensed locations as set forth above.


And seven states, California, Maryland, Mississippi, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia have authorized salons, barbershops, and spas to serve alcohol without a liquor license. In California, for example, the regulation allows establishments to legally provide wine-safe cocktails without an alcohol license as part of a beauty salon or barbershop service. And California’s authorization goes beyond hair salons, as the code suggests that any California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology licensee while providing a service thereunder, is included in such authorization. This includes nail salons, makeup studios, and all other cosmetology licensees. With wine-safe cocktails powered by Somabar, customers have a unique and wonderful experience, ensuring these barbering and cosmetology businesses tower above their competition. As always with alcohol service, please follow specific state regulations such as California’s requirements that such drinks are offered at no additional charge and each glass complies with drink-size limits (see CA BPC § 23399.5).



COVID-19 Regulations Make Obtaining Alcohol Licensing Faster and Cheaper


Many jurisdictions and alcohol regulating authorities are providing new programs and regulatory relief to help foodservice businesses rebuild and increase revenue as they reopen to a changed COVID-19 world. And many of these measures focus on relaxing restrictions around the service of alcoholic beverages, which is a testament to the fact that cocktail service can be among the most powerful cash-generating tools for any commercial establishment. Using Los Angeles and California as examples, we have already identified that California allows for cocktail takeout & delivery as well as wine-safe cocktail service at locations providing salon or barbershop services. In addition, new initiatives make obtaining a liquor license less expensive and more lucrative than ever before. Examples include Los Angeles’ innovative (i) Restaurant Beverage Program (subject to final city approval) providing quicker and less expensive alcohol license permitting, and (ii) LA Al Fresco Program offering temporary, no-cost allowances for restaurants to provide outdoor dining with alcohol sales on sidewalks and private parking lots.


The unprecedented opportunities now being offered to liquor license holders make it clear that those with a current cocktail service should immediately optimize their cocktail program’s revenue and safety features, and those without either a cocktail program or a liquor license should immediately develop a cocktail program or apply, at the very minimum, for a beer and wine license.


Not just for Restaurants & Bars, Somabar provides Bespoke In-room Cocktail Service as Hotels & Resorts Remove Minibars


The days of the minibar are over. Hotels are now emptying their minibars over concerns of contamination and the inability to sanitize bottles and cans that remain over the stay of innumerable guests. Thankfully, Somabar provides the hospitality industry with a dramatically improved in-room drink experience with superior cocktail quality and individualized drink offerings. Somabar’s reusable SomaPod® ingredient-canisters can be sanitized and refilled, and provide the exact cocktail experience requested by each guest in a pre-arrival questionnaire or upon check-in. Sanitized SomaPods can be stored in each room’s (now empty) minibar, or delivered upon request. With Somabar, instead of cracking open tiny bottles and emptying them into a glass, hospitality guests can experience professionally crafted, contamination-free in-room cocktails made fresh and on-demand while they relax and unwind from the stresses of travel.



Somabar is as Easy to Afford as it is to Install and Operate


Somabar’s cost is equivalent to a single cocktail a day. Or put another way, Somabar works for less than $1/hour and does not require benefits or withholdings. Moreover, installation is plug and play simple. Only +/- 2 square feet of counter space and a standard wall outlet is required to operate. No plumbing or water connection is needed (everything is housed inside Somabar) and most customers start serving Somabar cocktails the same day they receive their system. Somabar has been embraced by the technology and hospitality industries, winning The Innovation Award at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and Best New Product from the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo.


In this time of great uncertainty and challenges, all businesses, and in particular those directly impacted by COVID-19 shut-downs such as restaurants, bars, hotels, spas, and salons must seek new and creative ways to optimize operations and sustain cash flow. Fortunately, innovative, cost and contamination reducing solutions such as Somabar’s automated bartender have arrived to provide new standards of efficiency, reliability, quality, consistency, value, and sanitation for commercial establishments in the months and years to come.

NOTE: This article is for informational purposes only and does not offer or provide legal advice. Please consult with your legal counsel as to any laws and regulations and their application to your business and establishment.

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