With sustainability continuing to be a key concern for many consumers, the new wave of environmentally conscious venues is gathering speed. The latest is a zero-waste tap bar, with no bottles, no cans, no disposables and no straws. Instead Tap 13 in Tooting’s Broadway Market in London has, you guessed it, just 13 taps.
‘We wanted to do something different and there was a space in the market that was really small – just four metres wide by two-and-a-half metres deep,’ explains Paul Belcher, co-owner of operator DSC Group. ‘I’m not an eco-warrior, but as the project developed, it became a really nice aspect as everyone worries about the environment and saving it is something we believe in.’
DSC Group started out as a street food van, before opening a string of unconventional, not-bricks-and-mortar venues: Donastia Social Club in a shipping container in Pop Brixton, The Tapas Room in Tooting’s Broadway Market and its sibling in Deptford Market. The company also launched DSC Imports, a specialist supplier of Basque and Spanish wines and craft beers for the on-trade.
According to Belcher, his latest project has several operator benefits. ‘Obviously we have zero waste to manage – there’s not even a bin behind the bar! I have other restaurants and we do make a lot of waste at those, with cardboard boxes, bottles and so on,’ he says. ‘Other benefits include ease of service and quality of product.’
Even the kegs are recyclable. ‘They’re reusable and we’ve got an app, so as soon as they’re empty someone picks them up and recycles them by refilling them.’
The taps dispense beer (no surprise), but also prosecco, still wine and cocktails. The latter are provided by One Point Eight, with the current offer being a Blood Orange Cosmo, a Rhubarb & Rose Spritz and an Espreso Martini. Wines are supplied by Borough Wines, one of the UK’s wine-on-tap pioneers, with a choice of four: a white blend from Italy’s Veneto, a red and rosé from Luberon in France and an Italian Frizzante. Two Herefordshire ciders – The Real Ale Company’s Craft Apple and Ruby Tuesday –are joined by Steigl Austrian lager and a selection of local craft beers from Bullfinch Brewery.
The concept has proved to be a hit with customers, who can sit up at the tiny bar or take their drinks to communal benches, shared with other food and drink outlets in the market. ‘They get consistency of serve and speed of service – there’s no waiting around for somebody to shake a cocktail – and also people like being part of the fact that we’re not wasting stuff or throwing anything away,’ says Belcher.
The drinks selection will change regularly. ‘We’ll always have a rotating guest beer spot and the cocktails are seasonal. The spritz is a summery cocktail, but in autumn we’ll start looking at things like Old Fashioneds and Negronis,’ says Belcher.
Is the tap trend set to continue? ‘I think this kind of set-up is easier for bars trying to deal with waste. It’s also easier not to have so many products, so many things behind the bar that can go missing. It’s a simple, clean concept,’ says Belcher.
‘I don’t think everyone will suddenly switch to running tap bars – customers like drinking hand-mixed cocktails – but bars that offer everything on tap do offer a point of difference for customers and the lack of waste is a positive. Anything that’s zero-waste and environmentally responsible is a good thing. As an operator it’s a nice feeling to do something like this.’
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