Estrella Damm – Tapasbar Urgell

17th April 2011, 19:00~21:00

Alcohol content: 5.5%
Price: €6 per litre
Overall verdict : This would probably cause trouble in Norway

20110511-084712.jpg

Stupidly cold - Could cause chaos

Right next to the “aparthotel” where we were staying in the Eixample area of Barcelona, was this place called Tapasbar Urgell. After rushing past it to the Metro station every day on our way to explore Barcelona, we finally ran out of ideas, cash and energy and decided to spend our final evening as close to our beds as possible.

I think the food was OK, but the novel aspect of this place was that several tables had their own beer tap serving stupidly cold Estrella direct to customers. Each table was on a beer-meter, and at the end you were charged a flat rate of 6 Euro per litre poured.

The waiters are freed up to deal with food orders and the distribution costs are reduced. Genius!

Yet more marketing genius was the idea of having a flat screen display at one end of the bar which let everyone know in real-time how much each table had drunk. As the only drinker at ours, I was never in the game, but I can imagine that with the right people, this could get competitive. Even though I was unable to keep up with a table of four who were on 5 litres before we started, I still set myself the target of getting to 2 litres before they could get to 8 – like when you challenge yourself to walk/run to a certain lamppost before a bus overtakes you.

In Spain, I can see this working well, selling more beer, cutting costs, and simplifying the process of charging customers, but if the same system were in the UK or Norway, things would probably get very messy, very quickly.

Japan specialises in developing innovative transaction systems to hone the efficiency of restaurants. The conveyor-belt sushirestaurant is well-known, and the system of charging customers a flat rate per colour-coded plates makes calculating the bill easier. That seems to work fairly well in the UK too, but I also saw 2-hour all-you-can-drink offers that I fear would not translate to these shores. At least if my disgraceful behaviour is anything to go by.

Why are we Northern Europeans so bad at “enjoying responsibly”? It gets blamed on licensing hours and the taboo created around alcohol by withholding it till people are 18, but I’m sure there’s something deep in the national character or the weather that makes Northern Europeans so eager to slam their feet down on the accelerator when getting drunk.

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