We had the pleasure of speaking with the nice people over at Yard House in Moorestown. Yard House has over 10 locations on the East Coast alone, and is looking to expand even further into the South Jersey and Philadelphia area. Known for their large selection of beers, Yard House makes a point of serving local brews. Spanning from from Cape May to Cherry Hill, there’s something for everyone.
You have many locations all over US but Moorestown is your only New Jersey restaurant so far. What was the attraction to open a restaurant in the Moorestown area?
This restaurant was placed here as it was part of our overall strategy to build out the greater Philadelphia market. We have been working on other locations in addition to this one and for example we are now open in King of Prussia making that our second restaurant in greater Philadelphia. This specific trade areas had the generators that we look for and believe can help us open a successful restaurant and there will be other locations in New Jersey over time when the correct real estate opportunities become available.
Your company boasts the largest selection of draft beer. Where did the appeal for craft beer come from?
When we opened the first Yard House in 1996 in Long Beach, California, we wanted to be the leaders in offering the best draft beer available. Specialty Import and Craft Beers didn’t have the following that they do now, and I think we helped to shape the craft beer revolution by making serving high quality draft beers on a massive scale the centerpiece of our concept. We average around 130 taps per location—some locations have more, a few have less—and as we expanded so did the palates of our guests.
Twenty years ago Coors Light was our number one selling beer, even though we had some great craft beers and were working with some cutting-edge microbreweries. Now our number one selling beer is our own Yard House Honey Blonde that is produce by Uinta Brewing out of Salt Lake City, Utah. We recently just completed our annual Beer Review and, as a result, added 1,800 new beers companywide.
You show the importance of community on your website, can you expand on that? Anything you are doing in the South Jersey community we should know about?
We partner with Round It Up America, which was founded by two of our executives as a way to help replenish depleting food banks. Now several restaurants groups are part of Round It Up America. It’s simple: Guests are invited to “round up” their checks to the nearest dollar and donate the remaining change to local and national causes that we have vetted and align with our core mission. Those include the local chapters of the Feeding America, Special Olympics and the Red Cross. To date Yard House has raised more than $2 million for such causes, and more than 90% of donations go directly to the causes.
I see beers from a bunch of brewers in New Jersey – locations like Mt. Holly, Cherry Hill, Cape May and Somerdale. How do you choose your beer selection? Especially the local ones?
When we’re opening a new location we travel to the local market, visit local breweries and taste a lot of beers. We want a good cross section of local beers, so we try to offer different styles—IPAs, Pilsners, Stouts, Porters, etc., until we feel the beer menu is diverse but covers a broad spectrum of flavors. Then, once a year, we reevaluate our beer menus companywide getting input from our guests on what they’d like to see on our menus as well as servers, bartenders and managers who are on the frontline. From there we review which beers sell the best and others that do not. The ones that sell the least are removed and room is made for more beers from brewers that are selling well or for new breweries that are newly available. We also use beer review to balance the number of beers in each style; for example if porters are selling really well in a building, we will add more porters.
Our focus is to always have the best offerings possible that are representative of the local taste preferences. We also have our Chalkboard Series, which is a digital chalkboard located above our center island bar. Beers that are featured on the Chalkboard Program are usually one-offs that we purchase one time, sell them then they’re gone. As a result these are often highly sought after specialty beers that are produced in small batches. Chalkboard brands rotate monthly so there is always something new each time you visit. Guests can check the location online to see in real time what’s available on our Chalkboard Series.
Anything we missed?
We just launched Build Your Own 4-Pack where guests essentially can assume the role of brewmaster by creating their own beer tasting menu. And, for the second year in a row, we’re giving away a trip to the Great American Beer Festival that takes place every October in Denver. The winner will receive domestic airfare for two plus a two-night stay at the Sheraton Downtown Denver, dinner for two at Yard House in Denver, ticket to the festival, and $500 spending money. We’ll also be giving away (10) $50 gift cards weekly from June 12-July 23 as part of the sweepstakes, which runs through July 23. We always have a lot going on – it’s best to visit our website or follow us on social media @yardhouse.