If you’ve been to Chattanooga recently, you should be familiar with the locales brought to life by husband-and-wife team Erik and Amanda Niel. The pair owns three restaurants—Main Street Meats, Easy Bistro, and the newly-opened Little Coyote —all in the same vicinity. From a carnivore’s paradise to a casual cocktail bar to a laid-back Tex-Mex vibe, they’ve got a spot for everyone to enjoy.
We were lucky enough to get the chance to speak to Garth Poe, the beverage director of all three concepts, to learn more about their cocktail menus, more specifically, their frozens. Main Street Meats and Little Coyote both house dual-flavor Spaceman frozen beverage machines, and we got to hear all about how these frozen drinks have driven heaps of success at both establishments.
How did Garth get his start in the foodservice industry?
Garth started in the foodservice industry at just 17 years old. He went from bussing tables to serving to bartending, then took a detour into the military, and then at 25 ended up serving at Easy Bistro. No matter the turns his life took, he always felt passionate about the restaurant industry and ultimately was drawn back to it. By 2020, he was recommended by his mentor to become the bar manager at Easy Bistro, and the rest is history.
What role does Garth play at these establishments?
Garth is the beverage director of the entire restaurant group. His job includes overseeing the entire bar staff, and of course, getting the final say in the everchanging cocktail menus of all three spots. For the most part, Garth lets his head bartenders concoct most of the craft cocktail menus, but about 90% of the frozen drink creations are Garth’s recipes.
How are their frozen drinks made?
The most impressive element about the frozen drinks served at Main Street and Little Coyote is that the ingredients used to create these icy treats are made in-house: the juices, the concentrates, the syrups – all of it. You won’t find slushies that taste like these anywhere else, we guarantee it! A lot of the batches that Garth creates have a high water content since the brix level needs to be appropriate, and this is something he found works in his favor. Garth loves that controlling the amount of water in a mix allows him to adjust how thick or thin the drink dispenses, for example, more water will lower the brix and make the consistency more like an Italian ice, and less water will increase the brix, and give the drink a more slushie-like feel. Garth is able to use premium-quality ingredients in his batch recipes since the high water content helps him save a ton on costs!
Are frozen drinks a popular choice for consumers at these restaurants?
The simple answer is… YES! The response to the frozen drinks at both restaurants has been overly positive, to the point that people will follow the release of when a new drink drops! Garth has found that drinks with popular names sell better than the ‘nerdy’ craft cocktails he prefers, but that’s probably because of their familiarity. Not only do the drinks taste immaculate, but they’re reasonably priced too! At Little Coyote, you can find most of their frozens for about $10 each, and at Main Street Meats, they range from $11-$13. At Main Street, they’re currently selling a Whiskey Sour for $11 and an Espresso Martini for $13. Funny enough, the Espresso Martini started at $11, but Garth had to increase the price because the restaurant was selling TOO many and they were trying to keep their sales monitored. (We heard their patrons went through 15 gallons in just 2 days!)
What are their best-selling drinks?
Little Coyote is still newly opened so it’s hard to say what the fan-favorite is just yet, but at Main Street Meats, the answer is clear. Garth told us that the Lemon Drop Martini, Gin and Tonic, and Espresso Martini have all been practically untouchable. In his own words, they have sold an “ungodly” amount of these drinks. While the frozens mentioned above are customer favorites, Garth’s personal favorite would have to be the Piña Colada that is sold exclusively at Little Coyote. It has a rich sort of depth and dimension to it, maybe because of the *secret ingredients* that Garth added to the batch recipe to make it his very own.
Is there anything exciting to look forward to down the line?
At Main Street and Little Coyote, it seems there is always something to look forward to. With new cocktail menus surfacing each season, customers can expect the roster to be exceptionally tasty for the rest of this year. Garth gave us some insights as to the frozens that he’s been playing around with for the upcoming Spring season, and let’s just say, you won’t want to miss out.
Why did they choose Spaceman?
It all happened pretty organically believe it or not. One of Amanda and Erik’s friends and fellow business owners was at a bar one day that hosted a Spaceman machine. He knew the couple was on the search for a frozen drink machine that could handle high volume because the slushie machine they had at the time just wasn’t cutting it. After trying one of the frozen drinks at that establishment and being impressed, word was passed on to Amanda and Erik, and that’s when the decision was made. Since choosing Spaceman, they have been satisfied with the machine’s performance and are glad it can handle the demand they are facing.
*Thank you to Garth Poe for agreeing to do a spotlight with Spaceman USA and for giving us insights into your role as Beverage Director at Easy Bistro and Bar, Main Street Meats, and Little Coyote. Thank you to Amanda and Erik Niel for allowing us to do a spotlight on your three Chattanooga restaurants. We wish you the best of luck with business and here’s to many more frozen cocktails! *