From their year-old restaurant in Roseville, franchisees Hamid and Tahereh Karimi are witnessing for themselves just how the burgeoning craft beer movement can lift sales for many other businesses.
The Karimis opened a combination Colorado Grill and Deli Delicious franchise restaurant last summer in the Granite Bay Pavilions at 9213 Sierra College Blvd. in Roseville. Hamid Karimi had run Colorado Grill’s second location in Clovis, while his wife had worked in the corporate offices for Deli Delicious in Fresno.
Together, they were able to persuade the owners of the two separate businesses to let them try a combined restaurant in Roseville. Hamid Karimi had trained to run a Colorado Grill back in 2002: “I started out working at my cousin’s restaurant in Fresno, learning from zero to everything. It took two years. We built the Clovis store. Then we opened January of 2004, and people lined up outside our door.”
Tahereh Karimi said Deli Delicious has gotten much the same reception in the Fresno area: “The whole city knows the name and the brand.”
It was no such cakewalk when the Karimis arrived in Roseville. They knew they had to build the name recognition for their two brands. With a limited budget for advertising, the Karimis said, they decided to focus on nurturing an informal partnership with the neighboring Final Gravity Taproom & Bottleshop.
Hamid Karimi had briefly met Final Gravity’s Amy Ruthnick while he was scouting the site for his new restaurant, he said, but during construction, she introduced herself again and asked for some time to get better acquainted.
“We sat down and talked with each other,” Karimi recalled, “and she said, ‘I want to stop serving food. What do you think? Would you be willing to bring it in?’ I said, ‘I’ll be glad to do it.’ ”
Ruthnick said: “I didn’t want to run a kitchen. I just wanted to focus on a beer and wine menu. With the food, it was taking a lot of my time to make sure we had the ingredients we needed to maintain it. I didn’t have the equipment to do as much as he had. I also didn’t want it to be a competition. The collaboration was easier to figure out.”
The Karimis describe their handshake deal as a great blessing. About an hour after their lunch rush ends, Tahereh Karimi said, customers begin to trickle into Final Gravity for happy hour deals. They see the Deli Delicious-Colorado Grill menus and place orders with their cellphones. The Karimis or their staff then bring the food right over.
Bart Watson, the staff economist for the national Brewers Association in Boulder, Colo., said these kinds of partnerships have been growing exponentially over the last two or three years as the craft brewing movement exploded.
“I’ve also seen it where people walk into a taproom and ask for food, and the server pulls out menus for all the local restaurants around them,” Watson said. “We’ve seen these partnerships grow because it’s beneficial for both businesses. … People think about the two businesses in tandem, and sometimes you see synergies developing between the two where people are excited about both the restaurant and the brewery because of the other partner.”
This trend began, Watson said, with food trucks showing up to appease the appetites of patrons in the tasting rooms of microbreweries. It has evolved to include restaurants as the number of taprooms has expanded. The microbrewery movement, in general, has gotten people to think about food differently, he said, whether it’s opening new avenues for restaurateurs to access customers or getting customers to think about food-beer pairings in a more elevated way.
In Sacramento, restaurants such as Kyoto Sushi and New Station deliver their food to patrons at New Helvetia Brewing Co. on Broadway. It’s an option that founder Dave Gull says has enhanced the customer experience.
Ruthnick and her co-owner, her husband Kyle Ruthnick, have allowed outside food and drink in their 3-year-old taproom since they launched. La Huaca, a full-service Peruvian restaurant in the same shopping center, also delivers its food to Final Gravity, she said, but the price points of the Deli Delicious-Colorado Grill restaurant seem to have greater appeal.
The relationship between the Deli Delicious-Colorado Grill franchises and Final Gravity can almost be described as symbiotic. For instance, Amy Ruthnick said, when Colorado Grill first opened, they didn’t serve buffalo chicken wings. Final Gravity’s customers were requesting them, she said, so the Karimis added them.
And if it’s closing time for Colorado Grill but Final Gravity customers are hungry for late-night grub, Karimi said, he stays open later to satisfy them.
Ruthnick has created specials that pair pints with foods from the Colorado Grill-Deli Delicious menus. “They give us napkins, all the condiments. We’re totally set up for anything the customer needs,” said Ruthnick, whose taproom serves up roughly 400 beers, most of which are from California, the Pacific Northwest or Belgium.
Final Gravity’s growth has been exponential, Ruthnick said. She and her husband, an engineer for Union Pacific, plan to open a second location later this year in Auburn at Highway 49 and Luther Road.
The taproom’s success has allowed the Karimis to find new customers within walking distance. One night last week, Tahereh Karimi said she cut up sandwiches from Deli Delicious and sent them over to Final Gravity, so customers could sample them at no charge. The next day, she said, a customer walked in and asked her to prepare a Philly cheesesteak sandwich just like the one he’d sampled the previous night at Final Gravity.
The Karimis also make a point of sending business in the other direction. “Some customers come in and ask us if we have beer,” Tahereh Karimi said. “We say, ‘Yes, we do have great beer, over there (at Final Gravity). Go in there, call in your order, and we’ll bring it to you.’ ”