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Jamie Cecil with The Brass Tap, graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor of Science in Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Management.
For the past 20 years, he has worked for various restaurant groups in franchise development and operations roles.
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:07] Welcome to Franchise Marketing Radio, brought to you by SEO Samba Comprehensive, high performing marketing solutions for mature and emerging franchise brands to supercharge your franchise marketing. Go to SEOSamba.com that’s SEOSamba.com.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:32] Lee Kantor here, another episode of Franchise Marketing Radio, and this is going to be a good one today on the show, we have Jamie Cecil with brass tap. Welcome.
Jamie Cecil: [00:00:41] Thank you, Lee. Appreciate it. Thanks for having me.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:43] Well, I’m excited to learn more about what you’re up to. Tell us a little bit about the brass tap. How are you serving, folks?
Jamie Cecil: [00:00:50] Well, in Brass Tap is a it’s a craft beer bar kind of entertainment venue. We have an extensive local kind of brewery offerings local craft beer, specialty cocktails, premium wines. When we pair that with a great company of food items as well, so every location is a little bit a little bit unique. About three thousand thirty two hundred square feet. Nice, comfortable feel. We’ve been franchising now since twenty twelve and things are going well.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:21] Now, can you tell us a little bit about the history? Did it start out with kind of being a franchise in mind or was this kind of a local hangout that just organically grew?
Jamie Cecil: [00:01:31] Yeah, you know, it started in 2008. There were three partners that got together, and they kind of saw a unique kind of a niche, if you will, for craft beer. And they were like, you know, no one’s really doing it and no one. Some people that were doing it weren’t doing it well. So they created this thing, and it was just at the time it was just craft beer and wine. There was no food component and they opened the first one up and here in Tampa and Wesley Chapel back in 2008, and it went well and then they started franchising it on their own realized that that wasn’t a good option, or they weren’t doing it very well. So we, as FSC got involved in twenty twelve and quickly craft beer was at that time was still very esoteric. You know, you couldn’t go anywhere and everywhere and find a craft beer. You know, now you go to Walmart everywhere and find craft beer. So we we found out through a bunch of surveys and things like that that we needed to bring on liquor. And we also brought on food as well because at first we were having, you know, restaurants come from outside and bringing food in. So we’re like, let’s, let’s keep that money in here. So we’ve done a great job with our menu and then brought liquor on them on board as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:45] And that’s just part of the natural evolution of the the business, right? You’re just listening to your customers and they’re kind of guiding you into what they want to need.
Jamie Cecil: [00:02:54] Exactly, exactly. The key thing was, you know, we we didn’t want to novo because there’s, you know, a lot of people out there, they just drink cocktails. So a craft beer bar is not going to really appeal to them. So bringing that alcohol bring in the upgraded wine and obviously bringing the food is done several things. One, it’s increased the sales and it’s and it’s really helped kind of elongate the stay when people come. And it’s something crews increase the sales, like I said a second ago.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:23] Now are you finding that craft beer and craft brewing is now kind of raised everybody’s game? Everybody is kind of having to to be a little better where maybe as a society we were tolerating not so great beer, you know, a few decades ago.
Jamie Cecil: [00:03:41] Yeah, it’s funny you say that because our opening team goes out and you know, when we first started opening brass taps, twenty twelve twenty thirteen, they would ask their, you know, the people that were actually for training, but they OK, you know, what is everybody think a craft beer, you know, they get they might get a a stellar or something like that and they’re like, Oh my gosh. Now craft beer, when they ask that question, you know, people, oh yeah. You know, zombie dust or there, talk all these great craft beers. So definitely craft beers is definitely more mainstream now, and the people’s knowledge of it has increased greatly over the years.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:17] Now, do you see that trend just continuing to blossom? Is this are we at kind of the beginning of this, even though it seems like in a lot of places, there’s a lot of choices now that there weren’t before, but it seems like we’re kind of in the beginning of this curve. Not it hasn’t reached maturity by any stretch, I wouldn’t imagine nationwide.
Jamie Cecil: [00:04:35] We agree 100 percent. You know, there’s still a lot, but there’s craft breweries open up left and right. Obviously, 20 20 put a little little halt on the craft brewing kind of bolt. But twenty one we’re seeing craft breweries open, left and right and people that are producing great craft beer. That’s who we want to partner with when we come into town. We let all the craft breweries know that we’re coming and they definitely want to be on our on our wall. We’ve got 60 types of craft beer and you know, they fight to get on that wall, right?
Lee Kantor: [00:05:09] You become almost like a hub of all the choices, right?
Jamie Cecil: [00:05:14] Exactly. Yeah. And we’ll do things like we’ll do what we call a tap takeover, for example, and we’ll we’ll partner with a particular brewery. And, you know, depending on how many of their brewing at the time, it could be 10, 15 or 20, and they’ll come over and they’ll take over those 15 20 taps and we’ll do a a special just on. On their their beers for that night, and those things really draw a great crowd because, you know, people like that that that that newness and the idea of they can come to one spot and get a whole bunch of different craft beer instead of kind of skipping all over town, right?
Lee Kantor: [00:05:45] Like you become the curator for the community.
Jamie Cecil: [00:05:49] Exactly.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:50] Now, when you started kind of when you got into the franchising stuff, obviously it wasn’t as you didn’t have all of the kind of these kind of flywheels going at the same time. Do you see a future? Like what is what is the kind of the next iteration of this? You’ve added the the cocktails, you’ve added, the wine, you’ve added the food and you’re the curator in the community. Are there new things in the horizon that you’re looking at adding to the mix as well?
Jamie Cecil: [00:06:19] You know, obviously it just now it’s finally it just keeps polishing it. You know, right now we’re testing a new line of gourmet grilled cheeses and some of our locations. You know, there’s five different gourmet grilled cheeses that we’re working on. We’re also rolling out a brunch program that is obviously it’s done extremely well in the locations that have started. So those are, you know, you talk about what are we work on next? Those are kind of the things that are going to help just continue to elevate Brass Town.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:47] Right? It sounds like you’re really you have kind of now all the pillars are in place and now you’re just kind of, like you said, polishing them all up.
Jamie Cecil: [00:06:55] Exactly. Yeah.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:57] Now, how did you help your folks kind of manage the pandemic and still managing the pandemic? Like this, to me, is one of the the powers of franchising and being with the right franchise partner, having kind of a lot of brains solving on this problem can help the folks as opposed to being a mom and pop in the local market where they don’t have all these resources. But can you share how you’ve helped your folks kind of survive and thrive in this environment?
Jamie Cecil: [00:07:24] Almost definitely. And yeah, that was it was an interesting year last year, of course. You know, one of the things that we did, obviously the day it happened. Chris Elliott, our CEO, we called all the executive team together like, OK, you know, it’s kind of like battle stations. How can we help our franchisees stay in business? Because nobody, you know, there’s not there wasn’t a playbook on this thing. So several of the things that we did, you know, we reduced and eliminated royalties, you know, put all royalties and market fees on on hold for all of our franchisees. Then we went to bat on the other PPP money. When those things came out, that was a massive document for the four franchises for everybody to read. Scott Lewis, our CEO, sat down and went page by page on that thing and really helped our franchisees kind of walk through. How do I apply for this money? How do I get it? What do I need to do? We work with the franchisees to help them get their money. The other thing that we did, we work with our franchisees and on my side, on the development side, with their leases reaching out to the landlords and walking them through and how how we can help the the landlords understand better what’s going on in our world. And fortunately, we were we were able to save a bunch of stores. You know, we we didn’t have any closures last year and brass tap this year is having its best year ever from a sales standpoint, obviously from a deal signing standpoint as well. So I’m really proud of how we helped our franchisees kind of weather this storm that unfortunately there wasn’t a playbook for
Lee Kantor: [00:08:58] Right and that shows kind of the nimbleness of the organization and and just kind of the all hands on deck attitude. And that’s what I’m sure new franchisees are want to hear those stories because that gives them some comfort in their decision. Now do you find that that the way the economy is set up now in this year and in the coming year that this is kind of a I don’t want to say a golden age for franchises, but it seems like there’s a lot of interest in franchising now as people are either kind of sick and tired of the grind and and want to kind of have a say in terms of their financial future and then are kind of taking personal accountability and looking at franchising as a path to secure their financial future. Are you seeing that as well at the Brass tab?
Jamie Cecil: [00:09:51] Oh yeah, most definitely. People, people want to control their their destiny. Like you said, they don’t want someone else going, Oh, OK, today you have a job, by the way. Tomorrow you don’t they they want to. They want to control their their future and franchising. And obviously, the brass tap is a great vehicle for for doing that. You know, you are your own boss and you can you can make a make a great success out of this thing. So yeah, so we’re seeing a lot of people that want to control their future step up and join brass tap.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:26] So now what is that ideal franchisee look like for you? Or is it somebody that has? Has kind of hospitality, food service, background or is it that kind of enterprise level executive?
Jamie Cecil: [00:10:36] Let see a key because it’s, you know, we do have food and there’s a little bit of liquor. But I tell you just a strong business acumen and understanding how business works and how to take care of customers. So strong business acumen, ability to, to want, need and desire to to serve the community. Restaurant experience helps. But again, our training program is going to help them kind of understand all the moving pieces of brass tap.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:07] And then so so you are getting some of those kind of corporate refugees that are saying, Hey, you know, I’m done or I got laid off for the last time and reordered out of this. I am going to do this on my own and then they raise their hand and go, You know what? In Tampa, I went to this place. I really liked it, and I think that would be a cool thing to open in my town.
Jamie Cecil: [00:11:26] Exactly. Yep, most definitely. We’re seeing we’re seeing a strong influx of that.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:30] And then when they go through that process, is there any kind of how would you advise them on choosing a franchise? And obviously, you know, you have the brass, Tobias. But when someone’s going from corporate into this kind of a world, what are some of the things they should be looking out for?
Jamie Cecil: [00:11:47] Well, you know, I mean, there’s a there’s a myriad of them. Obviously, the PhD is kind of the place to start and work your way through that and obviously get they need to pick something that they’re they have a passion for, you know, and we’re forcing at the brass tap. You know, most people have always wanted to own their own bar, right? So at the brass tap, it’s, you know, I want to own my own bar. Well, we have the vehicle to help you do that. So, you know, that’s a unique selling point that we have a brass tap because at some point and everybody’s everyone’s setting the bar going, man, we could own one of these. This would be fun to do, wouldn’t it? And then obviously a little turn in the economy and now people want to control their own destiny. So brass tap fits perfectly with that.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:32] So now let’s talk about the craft brewers that are out there that want to partner with the brass tap. What do they have to do to get on your radar to kind of show that they got the right stuff to be on your in your bar?
Jamie Cecil: [00:12:45] Well, we try and do local craft beer. So for example, the tap while in Tampa is going to be different than the tap wall in Dallas, Texas, which can be different than the tap ball in Kalispell, Montana. So, you know, reaching out to the local franchisee if there’s if they’re a craft brewer in the state of Montana, reaching out to the franchisee there in Kalispell, Montana, and checking in with him, that would be a perfect way to do it. Or they can obviously reach out to me and we can put them in contact.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:16] So it’s all kind of the boots on the ground are the ones that are in charge of discovery in terms of, you know, what’s the newest, latest and greatest in their local market?
Jamie Cecil: [00:13:25] Yeah, exactly. Now, you know, obviously we help them. You know, we have a craft brewery expert in-house that can help with that. But you know, most, most guys, once they get up and running, they get it and then they’re out kind of feeling it, you know, tasting beers and all that kind of good stuff. So but starting out, yeah, we’ve got an in-house craft brewery expert that that helps with that relationship.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:50] Now, are you seeing parts of the country that, you know, this kind of craft brewing is bubbling up in areas maybe you didn’t anticipate? Or is this kind of nationwide at this point?
Jamie Cecil: [00:13:59] It’s nationwide at this point. You know, obviously, California started this craze many, many years ago and is still kind of the kingpin for craft brewery or craft brewers. And but we’re seeing it in Texas. We’re seeing it in Florida, we’re seeing it in Oklahoma. I mean, there’s craft breweries blowing up all over the place. So it’s it’s literally nationwide. But I mean, if you want to give someone the kind of the thrown California is kind of the kingpin of craft brewery, good stuff.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:27] Well, congratulations on all the success. If somebody wants to get a hold of you and learn more about the opportunity, what’s the website?
Jamie Cecil: [00:14:34] Our website is Brass Tap Beer Bar.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:38] Good stuff, Jamie. Well, thank you again for sharing your story today.
Jamie Cecil: [00:14:43] Thanks, Lee, I appreciate the time.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:45] All right, this is Lee Kantor, we’ll see all next time on Franchise Marketing Radio.