Tapster Blends Customer Experiences with Delicious Beverages

Tapster's tap offerings

In times when consumer preferences are constantly changing, brands need to be able to keep up if they want to stay relevant. Between switching up your marketing tactics, offering new products or aiming to be more sustainable, there are a variety of ways to attract the attention of today’s shopper. 

One brand, however, has taken a whole new approach to this strategy. After thoroughly enjoying having open alcohol taps at his table when visiting a bar in Chicago, Roman Maliszewski wanted to take this idea and turn it into something better: an entire bar featuring a wall of open taps that customers could then serve for themselves. 

Thus, the idea for Tapster began, with Maliszewski bringing his business plan to life in just two years. His first Tapster bar opened in Chicago in 2017. 

Tapping Into the Beverage Alcohol Sector

Roman Maliszewski, founder of Tapster.

Since Maliszewski had no experience in the beverage alcohol industry prior to Tapster, during the two years he was working on his business plan, he also took jobs at bars and restaurants to better understand the industry. 

“Getting Tapster up and running was a real crash course for me, which is why I took those odd jobs to get to know the industry,” remembers Maliszewski. “It was fun. At every job, we were always on a team and helping each other out, which was an enjoyable aspect. And that’s what I also try to do with Tapster. When I hire a team at a new location, I envision them being friends, and it almost always works out that way.”

With Tapster’s innovative concept, guests can open a tab and be their own bartender. In each of their five locations, there’s over 40 beverages on tap, including beer, wine, seltzers, spirits and even alcohol-free mixers. This way, those who don’t drink alcohol can still enjoy mocktails, but they can also be mixed with spirits if the consumer chooses.

Tapster Leans Into Experiences

Aside from allowing customers to be their own bartenders, Maliszewski’s goal with Tapster was to create an enjoyable bar atmosphere where customers can do more than just sit around at tables. 

“I like being active even when I’m out, so promoting activity at bars is really valuable to me,” says Maliszewski. “At all of our bars, we have tons of board games, darts, swinging tables — anything to allow people to be active and have fun while they’re out.”

This concept has received popular feedback from many of Tapster’s patrons. 

“From what I’ve experienced while meeting people at our bars, they really like it,” notes Maliszewski. “There’s zero waste, customers aren’t waiting forever for a drink and they can sample different beverages from the taps. When you go to a bar and they have so many different options on their menu, you don’t want to get stuck with something you don’t like. So many of our customers try the drinks before they buy a full glass.”

At Tapster, all beverages are charged by the ounce. This allows customers to sample different options without paying for a full drink. 

Tapster’s new Bellevue, WA location.

Tapping Into New Markets

All of the positive feedback has certainly paid off, as Tapster just opened their fifth location in May 2024. The new self-pour bar is the brand’s second location in the Seattle market, with other locations in Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia. 

“Our continued growth is a testament to the strength of the Tapster business model,” Maliszewski says. “Over the past seven years, we’ve developed Tapster in very different markets across the U.S. — all seeing warm welcomes and becoming enveloped within the fabric of their local communities. Our goal is for our brand to be as recognizable as Starbucks, cultivating a welcoming environment for friends, families and colleagues to hang out at their leisure.”

Maliszewski plans to continue to tap into new markets in the future. By presenting an innovative way to enjoy beverages, he wants to offer the freedom to sample and try new things to more consumers. 

“When you go to a bar, you may get one or two drinks. But at Tapster, you can try small amounts of five different beverages,” Maliszewski notes. “You may think you don’t like sour or ale beers, but here you can try them and possibly discover something new that you enjoy. We’re shaping the exploration and discovery aspects of finding new drinks.”