By Gaige Davila
Most evenings, you can find Robert Foehringer behind the bar at Gabriella’s Italian Grill and Pizzeria, at 700 Padre Boulevard on South Padre Island.
Sometime during the seven years he’s worked there, Foehringer created a faster method to an oft-dreaded restaurant side work: polishing wine glasses. Foehringer created a wine glass polisher, a fixture that attaches to a power drill, using sheet metal and a drill attachment. The device can be loaded with different kinds of soft material, but Foehringer prefers the standard restaurant linen used in silverware “rollups.”
Foehrigner created the device out of necessity, he said, because there were so many wine glasses to polish after the end of a shift. He calls it the “Bar Ringer.”
“It would take 45 minutes to an hour just to get out of here because you’ve got to polish them all,” Foehringer said.
The device looks similar to an upturned birdcage, with a large, cylindrical brush in the center. Foehringer uses the prototype behind the bar regularly. A stainless steel wine glass polisher he made from a discarded Gabriella’s kitchen table is currently in Baoding City, China, where it’s being used to mass produce the device. The Bar Ringer can polish any-ounce wine glasses, pint glasses, and almost any common bar glass, except for martini glasses and margarita bowls.
“But I can make one,” Foehringer said.
Foehringer is having his invention made overseas, also out of necessity. After two years in pending stages, Foehringer was denied a patent for his invention, but not because of its design, which is the only of its kind, but due to its purpose as a wine glass polisher. There are several kinds of wine glass polishers on the market, but Foehringer said his is the fastest and least expensive. Now that Foehringer’s invention is not pending a patent approval, he can now mass produce and sell the Bar Ringer. Pending Foehringer’s approval of the manufacturer’s take on his design, and once he pays the manufacturer, units can be ready for shipping and sale.
“I would’ve rather kept it in the United States,” he said. “But you can’t just be an inventor: you have to be an inventor with money and know people.”
However, those who do know about the invention are interested in having one themselves. So far, Foehringer has 100 orders for the Bar Ringer, at $300 a piece, which can possibly be written off as a business expense for restaurants. Most wine glass polishing systems can range anywhere from several hundred to thousands of dollars. Local bartenders and restaurateurs are also interested in the Bar Ringer .
Foehringer says that if the Bar Ringer is successful, he’ll have his product made in the U.S. Foehringer says he’s planning to build a ”no-touch” glass polishing system, one that will utilize the same mechanics of a blender and the Bar Ringer.