Beef ‘O’ Brady’s operator tries for Cheers effect
You got into Beef ‘O’ Brady’s at 21 as a part-time dishwasher, but it’s not exactly a rags to riches story is it?
Not really, the story would be a little better if I hadn’t gone to college and had a degree. The real story is that I did go to college, got a job when I got out of school but I knew I wanted to own sports bars. So when I graduated, I got this job that allowed me a few days to go learn the business without stressing about money.
That must have been an odd conversation with your first boss…
I went in there and they said, ‘I don’t have a manager job for you or a server job or a cook job.’ I said, I don’t care, I want any job where I can learn the business. So I was able to get their attention.
How did you come to own a store?
The founder of Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, even though he had already sold out of the concept, still owned about 12 stores and owned the store I worked at. He would constantly come through the kitchen and talk to me, so after managing out there, he said, ‘I have a great opportunity for you, we’re going to open a store and I’d love for you to come down and run it, and if you do, I’ll sell you 25 percent of the restaurant.’ I said I didn’t have enough for any percent. But he loaned me the money if I promised to come down and do a good job.
Now you strive to develop your own people into managers and owners, how did that start?
Years ago, there wasn’t a method at all, just wait until someone comes along that says they’re a manager. That was definitely not working. So we decided to make this a career, and find some other people that they can do the same thing. We started being proactive, we started going to our own employees for every single position and found people with personalities and work ethic to do more.
In the second store, one of the cooks and assistant managers was very excited to do more, but nobody had ever given him the opportunity, he’d never been to college—he knew how to flip burgers. But we taught him how to read a P&L and all that, so he became our GM, and when we opened up the next store, we gave him a loan to become a part owner.
Staff writer Nicholas Upton asks what makes multi-unit operators tick—and presents their slightly edited answers in this column in each issue. To suggest a subject, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You specialize in small towns. Why?
We saw the community in these small towns, if you market it correctly it becomes that place that everyone wants to go. It’s a lot harder to do that in a larger city, but if you do that in these towns of 30,000 or less, people can rally around a store and it can become their ‘Cheers.’ Plant City, Florida, is where I saw that this works. So I looked around for other places where we could do this again. We evolved all our locations from a basic sports bar to a community bar—everyone walks in.
What’s your best advice for a hopeful franchisee?
Do something that you have a passion for. If you don’t love donuts don’t buy a Dunkin’ Donuts. There’s going to be a point where if you don’t have a passion for it you won’t want to be there. And you have to be there. That is why I’ve stuck with it, there were many times where I asked, ‘Is this worth it, can I make money in this?’ But in the last five years, I’ve been really able to enjoy the fruits of the labor.