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More thoughts on the brewpub

While I haven’t posted about in some time, the gears are still turning as far as my brewpub is concerned. If you haven’t read about it yet check out the link on the top right of the site or the image over to the right hand side there. Anyway I have been reading a lot of business things. Some related to beer, most not. And after months of reading about and studying business type things, what did I find? Well I need to do a lot more studying and that I am not going to have all of the answers.

In all honesty, opening a business is a big risk. A calculated one, but really who knows how it is going to turn out. Sometimes have a solid product and the smartest people are not enough. A lot of successful businesses have a lot of luck on their side. I don’t want to take anything away from a successful business becasue sometimes smart people or a great product is enough, but luck does play a role in everything in life to some extent. I’m sure by now you are getting an idea in your head that some post college kid is getting the idea that life is tough, not fair, and full of disappointments. You would actually be dead wrong, I love this stuff. Maybe it is the eternal optimist in me, but I get all jazzed by a new idea or possibility. The threat of failure is a moot point becasue as long as some good comes of it, there is no failing at anything.

I was recently reading an article about Five Guys Burgers and Fries. If you have never been to one, you are missing out. Fantastic food, especially the fries, and not a bad price. There were a couple of things that struck me in the article.

Three days before we opened, I was still working as a trader in stocks and bonds and was in a hotel for a meeting in Pittsburgh. I found a book in the nightstand, next to the Bible, about JW Marriott — he had an A&W stand that he converted and built into the Hot Shoppes chain. He said, Anyone can make money in the food business as long as you have a good product, reasonable price, and a clean place. That made sense to me.

We figure our best salesman is our customer. Treat that person right, he’ll walk out the door and sell for you. From the beginning, I wanted people to know that we put all our money into the food. That’s why the décor is so simple — red and white tiles. We don’t spend our money on décor. Or on guys in chicken suits. But we’ll go overboard on food.

The whole food aspect of the brewpub is something that I kind of sort of know about, but really don’t have a lot of experience in. Not only am I going to have to find someone who knows that they are doing, but also someone that I can bring into the business who has the same goals as I do. But the formula of good food + reasonable prices + clean place = success does seem pretty simple. In the brewpub world I would love to keep the food prices on par with any sit-down restaurant and make sure that the food is solid. As solid if not more solid than the beers.

My wife, parents, college roomates, and anyone else who has lived with me might find the next statement shocking, but I really do care about have a clean place when it comes to food. My former co-works or managers at the retirement home I worked at for half a decade could attest that I like things being clean and am not afraid at getting dirty to make the place clean.

The customer really is the biggest advocate. I plan on making sure every customer is satisfied with the product that we gave them. That product is much more than just the food and beer. It is everything from the building, service, and meeting their needs. Without those basics I do not feel that any business can succeed. The article also talked about quality control. I have been to dozens of brewpubs in my life and when I think back on them I think in terms of the quality of their beer, food and service. I’ve gone to more than a few that lacked in all areas. I want to make sure that my brewpub puts out quality everything. We don’t have to put out an awarding winning beer or dish every time but we cannot afford to have any clunkers in there. A quality product builds a following and stands for something.

There was a whole lot I had on my mind and I got just a tiny drop of it out there. I told you all on the original post that this series is serving as more of a creative outlet than anything. Sorry that it is so sporadic, I just haven’t had a chance to empty out the idea bucket in awhile. The idea of what I want the brewpub to be and not be is developing into something more distinct. I wouldn’t call it a philosophy or anything yet, but I do believe there is a right way and wrong way of going about things and I want to ensure that we do it right. Thanks for reading, any comments, questions, or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.