South Korea: Self-service beer bars on the rise

Self-service beer bars are the latest fad in South Korea’s bar life. Tap Public, an upstart bar chain in South Korea's capital Seoul is attracting crowds of after-work drinkers seeking a new drinking experience.

Consumers can choose from 60 kinds of beer from all over the world that can be tapped by yourself from one of the many dispensers lined up along the wall of the premise. Customers have to wear wristbands with embedded chips that automatically record the brand and dispensed amount of beer. The automatic dispensers have a display which tells the customer more about origin, taste and history of the beer and its brewery.

In addition, 30 different snacks ranging from pasta to steak are being served. Although the setup of a bar like this is quite expensive to cover the investment of the servers and the wristband system, operating expenses are low because significantly fewer employees are required to operate a bar.

Kevin Moon, owner and inventor of Tap Public, opened about 10 years ago a frozen yogurt shop in the United States which became a successful chain before he sold it. The shops worked very much the same way like his new beer bars with self-serve dispensing machines.

In November 2017 Moon opened the first Tap Public bar in Seoul, South Korea. After being successful he replicated the concept and will soon open the third bar in the Seoul area. But the founder intends to take the concept even one step further. "We plan to open self-service beer bars in Japan and Southeast Asian countries," he told Nikkei Asian Review.

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