Why The Brass Tap, a Craft Beer Bar, is Focusing on Food as it Grows
When The Brass Tap opened in Wesley Chapel, Fla., in 2008, the restaurant grew to three stores in four years. Then, in 2012, private equity firm FSC Experience joined the brand and expanded it to 50 locations in 10 years.
The brand is planning to open 17 stores next year, with over 100 stores in the pipeline.
FSC Franchise Co., operator of Beef O’Brady’s, brought the small brand to its current format after several years.
FSC Franchise Co. CEO Chris Elliott said that while he was turning around Beef O’Brady’s he saw The Brass Tap and thought it would be a good growth vehicle for the private equity group.
The Brass Tap began as a 2,500-square-foot craft beer bar with just craft beer and wine. There are over 60 beers on tap and another 100-150 in bottles. Now, the food is just as important on the menu as the beer. In fact, 40% of the restaurant’s sales come from food.
“As we began to build stores, customers wanted food and also particularly women wanted mixed drinks,” said Elliott.
The newest innovation from The Brass Tap is its food menu. Specifically, its Instagrammable food menu.
One thing Elliott was hearing from a lot of franchisees was a complaint that the same food was on the menu throughout the year. To combat these complaints, The Brass Tap rolled out a seasonal “food truck” menu.
Five items on the 10-item menu are designed to be photographed and shared; the other five are value-based options for people who don’t want to spend that much money on food.
The menu will change quarterly and serve as an addendum to the chain’s current menu.
It will have food truck-based items to start with, including pulled pork mac and cheese, Baja fish tacos, Nashville hot chicken, and a Korean BBQ sandwich.
The Brass Tap executives know they are producing a social media-forward menu, so they have ramped up the social media team in preparation for the launch.
This, Elliott hopes, will increase the brand’s presence as it begins to expand outside of its main hub of Florida.
Elliott explained that The Brass Tap is using a fortressing strategy for growth that includes hubs in Dallas; Austin, Texas; Baltimore, and Washington. This strategy allows the concept to flood a market, so its name is out there, increasing the brand presence.
One thing that The Brass Tap has that other chains don’t is a technology system to track beers across all of its locations.
This proprietary software allows the restaurant to update beers on tap and in bottles depending on whether they’re available that day. The constantly updating menu changes by location and holds over 40,000 beers.
“I don’t know anybody else [with the tech, but] there may be other competitors out there that have this capability,” Elliott said.
The technology was designed so that no customer could ask for a beer only to be told the keg was empty.
The growing chain also has an app that allows customers to track the beers they’ve tried so long as they enter it into their app.
Elliott says the brand is looking forward to the future and what The Brass Tap 4.0 could look like. The brand has evolved from a craft brewery to selling liquor to selling food and now the next step for Elliott and his team is the design, food refinement, and drink trends.