The other night as I perused the list at a Taco Mac for my next Brewniversity choice I started thinking about the various programs at restaurants and beer bars for loyalty. Probably one of the first large-scale in NC was The Flying Saucer with a plate on the wall once you have 200 different beers. The Taco Mac variant is almost endless until you hit 1000 beers. Two World Of Beer locations have opened in NC and they have programs as well. At one time Brixx Pizza had a program.

So why the programs in the first place? For one it creates loyalty to the restaurant and people return for the “perks.” When The Flying Saucer started the program the only perk until you hit the mark was a T-shirt and you paid $10 for it back in the day. Since they have changed the program and you get perks along the way to the plate and then can repeat the plate over and over. I have one friend who must be on plate 10 or 11 at the Charlotte location. I finished my plate years after I started when I became disgusted with the way the beers not being entered at the Raleigh location. I should have finished that plate in the first year or so and since I boycotted for a while I finished it just a few years ago.

I remember being in Geneseo, NY and going to The Big Tree Inn and they had beautiful pewter mugs on the wall. I asked what it took to get a mug and they responded I had to drink a lot of beer. A few nights later I was back in the place and asked again, the sign up was free, and by the next week I had finished the requirements. I never did get to see that mug since it had to be ordered and engraved. (Note to self, schedule mug visit in the next few years!)

The problem with the programs is they push patrons to order something new. Let’s say you love a particular beer. Unless you do not wish it to count for the program you only get to have it once and have it count. I remember on the Saucer program I would pick a less expensive beer I did not want to have and would turn that in as my selection, but would actually order and pay for a more expensive beer I already had ticked off the list. It is a strategy that harms no one, but in reality does not pass the cheating smell test 100%.

I like the various programs, but really only participate in the Taco Mac one since I am in Charlotte quite often and it is near the hotel I where I generally stay. It was a free sign-up (some places charge) and heck, I only need 18 more beers to reach the next level. 😉