O'Neill's has beer taps at tables

jjordan1@herald-leader.comMarch 14, 2009 

"It's every guy's dream," says Jason Bailey, a partner in O'Neill's Irish Pub. "We are in Guy Heaven."

The topic was Table Tap, an innovative way to get cold beer from the refrigerator to the table at O'Neill's on Richmond Road in Lexington.

Instead of a server carrying pitchers, a beer tap connected by plastic tubing to a keg in the bar's walk-in refrigerator is at the customer's table.

As each fresh glass of beer is poured, a meter embedded in the table registers the amount and the charge for each ounce, which depends on the brand of beer.

The going price for Budweiser is 17 cents an ounce.

"It's just like paying for gasoline, except we charge by the ounce instead of the gallon," Bailey said.

The tab can later be divided among the people at the table.

Four domestic beers are currently available on Table Tap, he said, but "we are going to start working in some craft beers and some imports this summer, and constantly keep changing things around."

In time for St. Patrick's Day, the taps were installed two weeks ago at four tables and in two couch areas at O'Neill's, which was undergoing a remodeling that coincided with an exterior renovation of the Idle Hour Center, where the bar is located.

The computerized tap system was developed by Table Tap Products in Atlanta. O'Neill's is only the sixth bar in the nation to have it, Bailey said. No other Kentucky bar will get Table Tap for at least a year, under O'Neill's agreement.

Bailey said he saw the system at the Stats sports bar in Atlanta, the first place it was installed, when he was attending a Southeastern Conference tournament.

"It was just so super-neat, we had to try it here," he said. "Every guy has thought of (inventing) this."

At O'Neill's, each beer-drinker is initially allotted 32 ounces — two average glasses, or half a pitcher — by Table Tap. Beer can be added by telling the server who brings chilled glasses to the table periodically. The server also makes sure no one at the table is drinking too much.

"We can control how much people drink and make sure they are safe," Bailey said. "All you have to do is push a button in the back and they are shut off," he added, which beats having to take a pitcher away from a customer who might not want to give it up.

"There's a lot more pluses than minuses," he added. "It's a really cool system.'

Reach Jim Jordan at (859) 231-3242 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3242.

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