St. Louis bar that charged by the hour switches to drinking without a time limit [UPDATED]

Update, May 3, 2021: Open Concept, the St. Louis bar that received national attention due to its hourly model, wasn’t immune to the effects of the pandemic. It has been closed for a year. But now, like a phoenix, it has risen from the COVID ashes in a new place with a new business model.

Yes, it’s true: Open Concept no longer charges by the hour. Alert reader Justin Juengel emailed us the news as well as an article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This article was unfortunately behind a paywall, but we were able to find more details from Sauce, a local food magazine.

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“The new Open Concept is a little milder,” reports Sauce. Customers who want to fully experience the concept can pay $ 44 for bottomless premium and top-shelf beverages [translation: shots]. “There is also a juicy brunch at the weekend.

(Precaution: The $ 24 is if you reserve your drinking spot in advance. If you’re a spontaneous guy, the price is $ 30 at the door.)

Michael Butler, co-owner of the bar – and also the St. Louis charter writer and chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party – boasts that this business model makes Open Concept the fastest bar in the country. There are 40 beverages on tap at all times, including 25 cocktails. You shouldn’t have to wait more than 30 seconds for a drink, he promises.

Will this new model be more cost effective for St. Louis drinkers? Perhaps Daniel Hill, the intrepid Riverfront Times reporter who tested the original hourly open concept, can be persuaded to return for another round. Or maybe another brave St. Louisan can rise to the challenge. It’s Vax summer, isn’t it? Time for fun for everyone!

The story goes on

Original post, October 7, 2019: That summer, it was revealed on Digital Street that a St. Louis City Council employee was planning to open a bar called Open Concept, where customers would be charged by the hour, not for drinks. Some skeptics suspected that this unique payment structure would never overcome the necessary hurdles and actually open its doors. Well, Open Concept has proven that the skeptics are wrong.

The bar opened on Friday and plans to charge guests $ 10 an hour for access to premium beer, wine, and spirits. and $ 20 per hour for access to premium beer, wine, and spirits. Owner Michael Butler tells The Takeout that the first option mainly includes draft beer, wine, and cocktails on tap, while the second option includes all of these options in addition to direct pouring of alcohol.

Open Concept describes itself as an “open bar” that guests pay for to gain access. The website says, “For an average price of $ 10 an hour, you can drink as much as you can.” Customers are encouraged to purchase their “time” in advance from the bar’s website. However, walk-ins are also accepted. (Guests can tip the bartenders either in advance at the door or after each order with cash.) Customers who have booked online will receive a verification code that will be displayed on the door. All customers will also receive text messages at the bar letting them know how much time they have left to book.

“Our bar wait is shorter than other bars because all payment is made at the door,” Butler told The Takeout. “We mainly serve draft drinks so we can turn orders quickly, and bar interaction is nowhere near as long as in a regular bar.”

We are certainly not the first to believe this sounds like a recipe for overconsumption. Butler says Open Concept bartenders, like any other bar staff, are trained to spot signs of overconsumption.

“When we see that people are visibly intoxicated, we serve them Pedialyte. We take care of our customers, ”he says. “Most people who have drunk once just want something fruity and tasty so we can serve them this Pedialyte and say, ‘Hey, you need to slow down.'”

According to Butler, Open Concept is unfounded based on the size and weight of a guest’s driver’s license to determine how many drinks to serve per hour. However, bartenders may take a person’s physical stature into account when visually assessing how drunk they are.

Perhaps the only real test of whether the Open Concept model is successful is observing the bar’s first few weeks of business. When beer bars first emerged as a concept a few years ago, they sparked similar fears of overconsumption. Now there are a dozen of them, and the drinkers didn’t get upset in the streets while drunk. We hope the St. Louis have all responsibility for not abusing the “drink as much as you can” mandate. In this case, they are stronger-willed than most of us.

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