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Why Taffer’s Tavern Launched a Loyalty Program with Only 3 Locations Open

Feb 29, 2024

Jon Taffer of Taffer's Tavern sitting at bar in location
The newly debuted Taffer’s Tavern Rewards will allow the brand to compete against casual-dining competitors and help build its first-party database.

You can figuratively throw a rock and hit a quick-service loyalty program these days, says Alan Walker, VP of marketing for Taffer’s Tavern—the NextGen Casual restaurant concept founded by hospitality expert and star of Paramount Network’s “Bar Rescue,” Jon Taffer.

The emerging pub franchise recently launched a new mobile-first rewards program—even though there are only three full-service locations open so far.

phone graphic of taffers tavern rewards program

“The quick-service restaurant segment has primed the full-service restaurant customer for the desire for a loyalty program. Now you’re starting to see more and more full-service restaurants launch their own loyalty programs to compete for consumers’ share-of-wallet with their quick-service neighbors,” Walker says. “We wanted to ignite our loyalty program now to compete for guests amongst the growing number of loyalty programs out there.”

Yet the more important reason for creating the loyalty program, arguably, is data. “Data is king in today’s world,” he continues. “How can we talk to our guests? Over half of our guests are walk-ins. Then, we are only able to send marketing messages to reservation guests who opted-in for marketing through our reservations partner. We weren’t able to reach enough of our guests directly. Third-party data is tricky, so we’re building our first-party database.”

Walker admits creating a loyalty program has been a top goal of his since the brand opened its first location in Alpharetta, Georgia, in October 2020. The concept for the program has been evolving over the past three-plus years, but it only took about six months to build the program once all agreements were in place. 

“To launch the program, we’ve considered feedback from leadership, franchisees, and staff members to be sure to build something that everyone can get behind,” he highlights. “As Taffer’s Tavern Rewards is used and adored by our guests, we’ll be tracking engagement and make adjustments as needed to ensure the maximum benefit for our guests and franchisees.”

Taffer’s Tavern Rewards is available at all full-service Taffer’s Tavern locations, which include Alpharetta, Georgia; Washington, D.C.; and Watertown, Massachusetts (excluding the brand’s quick-service location in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium). Customers can download the app on the Apple App Store or Google Play store and start earning points immediately, as well as use the app to view points and redeem rewards.

Reward tiers were designed with average checks in mind, so the lowest reward is achievable within every 2.5 visits, though guests can choose to save up for higher-value rewards. 

Taffer’s Tavern also opted to elevate the birthday reward  to “break through the noise of other restaurant loyalty programs,” Walker notes. Instead of the industry trend of a complimentary dessert, Taffer’s Tavern guests can receive a free handheld entree item on their birthday, which is valid for two weeks. 

“The root of all rewards programs is the same—spend to get a reward. Taffer’s Tavern goes above and beyond that,” Walker says. “For example, we’ve added a surprise-and-delight feature to Taffer’s Tavern Rewards that rewards guests for visiting more. For every fifth visit, our guests will be treated to a complimentary dessert in the app,” like milk and cookies.

Loyalty members will earn points for every dollar spent at any Taffer’s Tavern location, and new users will get 100 points for signing up. The ongoing rewards program will offer five points per $1 spent; a $5 reward redeemable for 400 points; a $10 reward redeemable for 700 points; and a $20 reward redeemable for 1,300 points.

“Also, with this being a Jon Taffer franchise, we’re planning to reward our most loyal guests with special gifts from Jon,” he adds.

“Guest frequency is paramount to any restaurant’s success,” said Taffer in a statement. “At Taffer’s Tavern, we have this amazing drive to get our guests back again and again. In fact, the backbone of many of our training  and promotional programs is ‘Get Them Back.’ That’s why I’m proud to introduce this new loyalty  program. Through Taffer’s Tavern Rewards, we hope to create a stronger relationship with our customers via customized offers, unique perks, tasty rewards, and a few surprises & delights along the way.” 

campfire cocktail featured in original taffer's tavern loyalty announcement

Walker cites a Deloitte study that showed boosting customer retention rates by just 5 percent can increase profits by between 25-95 percent, which he thinks is “a very achievable number.”

“I am excited to see the fruits of Taffer’s Tavern Rewards in the coming months and years,” he adds. “We’ll be watching the sign-ups and redemptions closely each month, by location, to ensure the program is successful. At the end of the day, the goal is to have anyone who walks into one of our restaurants to walk out an engaged loyalty member.”

Taffer’s Tavern has three franchise units in development and over 18 sold in multi-unit agreements.


This article was featured on FSR by Callie Evergreen.

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