As the world moves toward complete autonomy, what with self-driving Google cars and automatic payment systems, the desire to remove as much human interaction from life has never been higher. Society is enamored of the idea of self-checkout and "do everything yourself without bothering anyone" systems, so it's no surprise that this thought process has made its way into the restaurant industry.
At bars and restaurants across our area, you may have noticed on some table, and even some walls, those monolithic beer towers thrusting out of the center. Tap handles within easy reach, these instruments beckon with LCD screens describing the brews contained within.
Yes, these are self-serving beer taps. With a flick of an RFID tag, these digitally enabled taps will dispense your chosen brew without having to hail down, or wait for, a server or bartender.
Now, personally, this shies away a lot of the interest in going to a bar with human purveyors, as the interaction between bartender and patron is a historical societal norm. But the chance to have your drink when you want it and not have to wait for a potentially distracted server (especially on a busy evening) is appealing to a lot of people.
One Irish company is leading the drive into this market: Table Tap LLC, which markets self-pouring fixtures such as the "TableTender" and the "rWall." Yes, those are table-based and wall-based tap systems, respectively.
Fort Lauderdale's American Social, the craft-beer destination for many on Las Olas, was built a little more than a year ago with these particular systems in mind.
"People love the tables!" proclaims Paul Greenberg, vice president of American Social. "Everyone loves pouring their own beer.
"You can take two ounces of one beer, five of another, four of another, and so on... You only pay for what you pour."
These systems aren't new by any means; they were introduced to the States in 2007, according to Table Tap, but they are becoming more common. Drive north from American Social and you'll hit Bad Ragaz in Boynton Beach, a Germancentric beer hall that has similar table tap systems in place, dispensing beer by the ounce.
Will more bars jump into the self-serving beer game? It's hard to tell; with yet another cost to dispense beer (similar installs a few years ago were costing around $1,500 to $2,000 per tap) and designated space that can go empty if no one reserves a table, it might be too prohibitive to implement. Then again, with the customer response and desire for bars to be sought out as being a "night-out destination," something like this can pull an establishment out of the pack, flagging it as a place to hang out with a group of friends.
What do you think? Will table taps take over the scene? Or will they be relegated to a mild curiosity?