The Denver outpost of Tupelo Honey Cafe, its first outside the Southeastern U.S., is unlike any other on the growing Southern food-focused casual chain’s roster. Located near the bustling Union Station food hall and residential-commuter development, its distinct features—such as an enhanced bar program that utilizes Colorado’s less restrictive liquor laws compared to its other locations—are making the Rocky Mountain store the brand’s top performer. “Each one of our restaurants has its own unique personality,” says Tyler Alford, VP of operations for Tupelo, one ofRB’s2016 Future 50 chains. “We’re not the Tupelo Honey in Denver. We’re Denver’s Tupelo Honey.”
Boosting checks with booze
The unit’s exclusive 75-cent martini lunch offer moves some 250 cocktails during the daypart, Alford says. “They’re ordering so many, we had to put them on draft.” Its drink menu features higher-end choices, with riffs on Old Fashioneds and Sazeracs. “This is our first step in a newer direction,” Alford says. “It has just blown up on social.” As a result, tables are ordering one to two more drinks on average.
Chef’s table turned cash cow
Tupelo Honey Cafe execs mulled over several ideas for what to do with the “dead space in the corner” before arriving on a chef’s table, Alford says. The banquette seats eight to 10, and is sold for six-course dinners with beer pairings for $100 a person. “If you book it out two times per week, it completely pays for itself,” he says. Parties can choose their own beers for the self-serve keg, and the restaurant has a canning machine so guests can take home what they don’t drink
Communal seating calls to a young crowd
With both an 18-top and a 14-top table, there’s more communal seating here than at other units. “It’s very millennial and Generation Y,” Alford says. “They’re looking for a shared dining environment.” Plus, when the two-tops get filled, the large-format tables give the location other seating options, he adds. “When you walk in without reservations, you can sit at the community table.”