The good people of the Pacific Northwest have a reputation to uphold. They like coffee in all forms. They like weed, especially if it’s legal. And they really like beer and hard cider. You can’t swing a chicken in Seattle or Portland without hitting a microbrewery (though you really shouldn’t swing chickens in either city; the locals don’t look too favorably on animal cruelty). Even if you go farther inland to places like Yakima and Eugene, you’ll still locally-brewed options. In fact, the Yakima Valley is proud of its status as the nation’s leading producer of hops. Even Spokane, which is so far inland that it’s almost in Idaho, has plenty of places to find craft beer and cider.
Pacific Northwest residents also love good food in all forms.They like poutine and pho along with traditional American mainstays like steak and hamburgers. Plenty of restaurant owners spend long hours in the kitchen fine-tuning their menus before Opening Day. But if you’re one of those restaurants, you can’t forget the booze. You’ll want to contract with a well-known beverage distributor, one that boasts decades of experience in the region. People in the Northwest are known for their adventurous palate, but that doesn’t mean they’re too good to sit down with a Miller Lite every now and then either. If you’re just opening up your restaurant, it’s a good idea to start by offering a mix of new and established beverage brands, then adjust it according to the needs of your customers. If the Crispin ciders turn out to be a hit, you’ll want to order more of those next time. If your customers keep asking for more IPAs, then you can ask your distributor for some of their best pale ales.
Don’t forget the teetotallers, either. The Pacific Northwest doesn’t have a reputation for forsaking alcohol like some parts of the country (hello, Deep South), but there are still people who choose not to partake for whatever reason. Whether they’re recovering alcoholics or just don’t like how beer tastes, it’s good to give them options other than plain old tap water. Whether it’s sparkling water, tea, or root beer, offering non-alcoholic options is also more likely to bring in families and their kids. Dad gets a lager, Mom gets a pilsner, and little Billy gets chocolate milk in a bottle. Oh, and you get repeat customers.
As a business owner, you need to do everything you can to stay on top of the trends. That’s why so many fast food restaurants are tearing out their old soda fountains and replacing them with touch screen soda fountains that allow patrons to really customize their drink. It’s why, in recent years, more and more movie theaters have opted to tear out their old seats and buy plush seats that recline from companies like Seating Concepts. If you aren’t trying to keep up, it’s all too easy to get left behind. You want a distributor that can keep up with the newest, hottest drinks available in the beverage industry. You want a company that will provide you good service at a fair price.
It’s a big leap of faith to open your own restaurant. But if you’re going to do it, you’d be hard-pressed to find better customers than the ones who live in Oregon, Washington, and even Northern California. They’re eager to try new things, and when they find a restaurant they like, they tend to come back with friends and family members. While the food your chefs prepare should be the main attraction, good beverages are an essential complement to the dishes you serve. Think of it as the grated parmesan on top of the pasta: it’s a small thing that does a lot to please the taste buds.