TendedBar is a touchscreen cocktail dispensing system—think of Coca-Cola’s Freestyle system frequently found in quick-service restaurants, only here customers are self-pouring adult beverages instead of sodas and with facial recognition providing an age verification assist. The company’s automated mixology machines will make their pro golf debut at Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance Open which tees off January 26.
The Jacksonville based vending technology startup served customized cocktails to the Jaguars faithful this past season at TIAA Bank Field as well as to concert goers and ECHL hockey fans at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena just a DeChambeau drive down the street. The second stop on the PGA Tour’s West Coast Swing will be TendedBar’s first field trip outside of North Florida and also marks the company’s professional golf debut.
TendedBar had been on the Farmers Insurance Open management team’s radar for a couple months and their interest was sparked. But the deal wasn’t sealed until after company COO and co-founder Justin Honeysuckle invited the golf event’s decision makers out to see the automated bars in action at a Jimmy Buffet concert.
“We are always looking for special ways to engage our fans and give them a good experience,” Marty Gorsich, executive director of the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open, says. Gorsich is excited for spectators to experience the expedited service the kiosks provide and sees many operational advantages in a mass service environment aside from the labor and inventory control advantages that immediately come to mind.
“We get big rushes and at certain times the lines can get long. Anything that can manage consumer choice but also keep things moving quickly is really intriguing,” he says.
Gorsich forecasts adult drink sales will exceed 2020 levels (2021’s event was without fans). He forecasts that the expedited service the machines provide will really come to the fore midday when the golf course is packed with spectators and lines begin to get strained.
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“That’s when the efficiencies of this product really come through,” he says. “People are already pre-registered to pay so you’re able to accommodate the guests in the lines much faster. That’s where those additional incremental sales will show up because people have access to what they want more often,” Gorsich explains.
According to Honeysuckle, a standard four-screen unit can clear a 35-person line in five minutes. At UFC 261 last spring, TendedBar saw several 20-minute periods where they averaged ten drinks poured per minute on two bars.
“If you’ve never ordered off of it in your life, it can take you 30-45 seconds to pour a drink by the time you scan your face, select your cocktail and go. As someone who has done it a bunch of times, I can do it in 15 seconds,” he says.
Honeysuckle will be on hand at the Farmers Insurance Open to make sure TendedBar’s golf debut runs smoothly and when he’s not monitoring drink lines and perusing order analytics, he’ll be cheering on fellow Florida State alum Brooks Koepka—they only missed each other in Tallahassee by a few years.
“The beauty of this event is it doesn’t just prove TendedBar in golf, it proves it in outdoor environments and music festivals, anywhere an event is set up for a week and then broken down and taken somewhere else,” Honeysuckle says.
Partnering with airports and hotels is also on TendedBar’s longterm to-do list and the company recently closed a $5 million Series A funding round led by BASE Capital which will help support their market expansion endeavors. The funds raised will go to onboarding new staff as well as toward investments in capital equipment.