Fat Tire finally rolls into town

Fat Tire has arrived in the Bluegrass | Photo by Phillip Bernard

Fat Tire has arrived in the Bluegrass | Photo by Phillip Bernard

The wait is finally over for beer enthusiasts in Kentucky. New Belgium Brewing Co., maker of Fat Tire Amber Ale and others, will officially begin distributing in Kentucky today.

Previously, the coveted craft beer was only available in our neighboring states (Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee), and its expansion into Kentucky makes the state No. 38 for the Colorado-based brewery.

Locally, New Belgium and its product lines will be distributed by River City Distributing. Look for area events celebrating its release to liquor store shelves and bar taps around town. We hear there will be specially labeled beers to commemorate the occasion, marked as “Biking into the Bluegrass State.”

Texas Roadhouse to add up to five new Bubba’s 33 restaurants in 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 3.18.50 PMLouisville-based Texas Roadhouse is on a roll, and they’re looking to expand their footprint in 2015 by more than doubling the size of their Bubba’s 33 mini-chain of family restaurants. The plan is to add five, which would bring the total number of Bubba’s to eight.

The news came during an earnings call between Texas Roadhouse execs and analysts on Feb. 23.

“We realize that the development of Bubba’s 33 is important not only for the long-term growth of the company, but also for the growth opportunities it brings to our people,” Kent Taylor, founder and CEO of Texas Roadhouse, said on the call.

Bubba’s is a family sports restaurant serving appetizers, burgers, beer and sandwiches, all made from scratch. The concept is different enough from Texas Roadhouse restaurants that the company is locating the two spots near each other — but not too close.

“We’re actually pretty much targeting locations where Texas Roadhouse does well … but not typically going next door,” he said.

Scott Colosi, Texas Roadhouse CFO, said Bubba’s sales have been comparable to those of the mothership, but the margins are higher, as there is quite a bit more alcohol being sold at the namesake restaurants. In addition, food costs are a little lower.

CEO Taylor seemed to imply he believes Bubba’s could be a national chain in time, possibly drawing its owners from folks that would otherwise open a Texas Roadhouse. Here’s how he explained it in the conference call:

“The same people that may open a Texas Roadhouse … are asking to open Bubba’s. So overall we are still opening at the same pace as we have been in the past couple years … Bubba’s 33 is doing very well. And so we are going to step it up a little bit why not?”

Still, it would be a mistake to figure Texas Roadhouse is finished expanding its signature chain. Nation’s Restaurant News reports the chain plans to add from 25 to 30 new locations in 2015. (Its current tally is 448.) Also, four of these new units will open overseas.

As for those earnings, Texas Roadhouse had $1.57 billion in sales in 2014 versus $1.41 billion in 2013. Earnings came in at $87.0 million in 2014, versus $80.4 million in 2013.