The bartender of the future is coming to a golf clubhouse near you – or stadium, or movie theater, or …
When the Tended Bar team knew they could make it in big stadiums, that’s when they figured they could make it anywhere. For almost a decade, they’ve been working on their dream product – an automated bar that remembers your order and pours your favorite drink whether you’re at a movie in Seattle or a hotel in Savannah.
But sold out, screaming stadiums – that would be the biggest challenge. That’s because Tended Bar works via an app – so if your phone struggles to work, it does too. So stadiums became the test.
“That was actually because of low connectivity and bandwidth in those places,” COO and cofounder Justin Honeysuckle said. “Big stadiums – not always great connectivity. The threshhold had to be [that it] works in bad connectivity.”
The way it works is that you make an order, give it details – such as proof that you’re of age – and out comes your drink. (It doesn’t make every single drink in the world, but it has the liquor and mixers for more than a dozen of the most popular cocktails.) Then it remembers you and, through facial recognition technology, knows your favorite drink (and that you’re old enough to buy it) like you’re a regular at a bar.
Some might have looked to have a go at smaller spaces first. Not the Tended Bar guys.
“On the flipside, we started with high volume because we figured if we could handle the crowd at halftime of an NFL game, we could do anything,” he said.
Anything – and anywhere – is the plan for where the product goes next. After eight years of research and development, they’re now taking it live. They see it as having a spot at, well, anywhere that people are consuming adult beverages.
“This didn’t happen overnight; it’s been eight years,” Honeysuckle says when asked if there are possible locations they haven’t thought of. “The options are out there, and they’re pretty limitness when you think about it.”
Take hotel lobbies. At your average midrange business-travel hotel, you’ve got that area that’s used for the morning breakfast buffet – and not much else. If you get there 2 in the afternoon, you’ll find a mostly unused space.
“The odds of there being a bartender there to serve you a drink are pretty low,” Honeysuckle says. So you put it in the courtyard or lobby and voila – instant bar. Or think of theme parks, movie theaters, cruise ships – and of course, golf courses.
“I’m personally a pretty avid golfer,” he says. Odds are, if you’re playing sometime like mid-afternoon on a Tuesday, the chance of somebody offering you a cocktail are pretty low, he said.
And other places struggle to find bartenders. He doesn’t see the invention as something that puts bartenders out of business – that great cocktail bar with the amazing list of complicated drinks will always need skilled professionals. But what about the places top bartenders don’t want to work?
“If you’re a bartender, are you going to go work at the AMC Movie Theater?” he asked. “The golf course in the middle of the day?” For more information, visit TendedBar.com.