HEY BARTENDER: Fans line up to pour their own drinks at Empower Field, as the self-serve alcohol model continues to evolve.
Best New Technology
Wal Thru Bru
Adult beverage self-service is a growing trend in venues foodservice and one concessionaire that caught the wave early is Aramark, which rolled out 70 new “Walk Thru Bru” locations at four NFL stadiums for the 2023-24 season: Soldier Field, Acrisure Stadium, Empower Field at Mile High and Cleveland Browns Stadium.
All four have done away with traditional beer portables and exclusively use grab-and-go Walk Thru Bru markets.
According to Aramark, the 2023 kickoff game at Soldier Field saw a 39% increase in halftime food and beverage transactions, compared with the previous year’s home opener.
Soldier Field has 46 Walk Thru Brew concepts.
Aramark plans to add to its current total of nearly 200 Walk Thru Bru markets at more than 25 NFL, MLB, and NCAA football stadiums across the U.S. and Canada.
Speedier service, reduced congestion on the concourse and a wide variety for guests to select have proven to be quite popular, said Alicia Woznicki, vice president of design and innovation at Aramark Sports and Entertainment.
“Fan reactions have been extremely positive and the results in terms of speed of service and number of transactions per game have been stellar,” she said.
Guests who verify their age using valid, government-issued identification can select from a wide variety of beverages and make their purchase using a self-checkout kiosk.
“The rise in popularity of craft beer, hard seltzer and ready-to-drink cocktails drove a need to give our guests variety without sacrificing speed of service,” said Shana Motts, marketing manager at Aramark Sports and Entertainment. “Our Walk Thru Bru locations provide a solution in the form of a turnkey portable. Guests can self-serve a wide variety of product and check out 10 times faster than a traditional beer portable with our AI-powered self-checkout technology.”
Years of testing led to the technology being introduced at the four NFL stadiums. Aramark first tested the concept at an MLB stadium in 2019.
“Because we were first to pilot it, we were first to scale it, figuring out the right mix of options for each location,” said Woznicki.
Analysis of point-of-sale beverage transaction volumes informs the product assortment. Product mix data is also used to help onsite teams develop schematic plans to optimize sales, she said.
“With all of the testing and data, we have been able to continue to improve the experiences for guests and the results for clients,” said Woznicki.
Testing in prior seasons showed market transactions increased approximately 46% on average, the company says.
AI checkout drove throughput by 40% and both standard POS with an attendant and self-checkout by kiosk increased throughput approximately 15%, officials said.
Walk Thru Bru markets also reduce beverage-only purchases at concession stands where food is also served.
“Walk Thru Bru markets have been a game-changer,” said Woznicki. “We believe the concept is poised to revolutionize the way beverages are served to fans.”