A new St. Louis bar wants to shake-not-stir up the industry

A bar in St. Louis wants to 86 the pay-per-drink model.


October 8, 2019

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A new bar opened its doors in St. Louis this weekend, and it’s charging customers by the hour — challenging the time-honored business model of insane markups on alcohol. The olive in the martini? The bar, Open Concept, is using tech to make it happen.  

All drinks are on the house

According to Open Concept’s website, when you open a tab, you’re paying for access to the space — not the booze. The rates: $10/hr for a regular open bar, and $20 for top-shelf liquor. (Which still sounds like paying for drinks if you ask me… but tequila, tuh-qwila.)    

Tech keeps the drinks flowing. When you book time, you create a profile. The proprietary system spits out a confirmation code, which you show to the bartender to order drinks. 

But is it a rough draught of beer history?

The bar’s proprietor — and current city official — Michael Butler says he got the idea after open-bar fundraising events were successful during his campaign. 

Critics think Butler’s had a few too many. But others point at the hopping success of pour-your-own bars in recent years — and think by-the-hour bars could represent the proverbial next round of alcohol consumption.

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