Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Business

World of Beer and the Brass Tap offer a new type of tavern

Once a drinker of mostly big-name beers like Bud Light and Michelob's AmberBock, Tom Slade discovered a taste for imports and craft brews at his local World of Beer.

Now he hangs out in a domain of Belgian Delirium Tremens, German Reissdorf Koelsch and local favorites like Cigar City.

"They've taught me almost enough about beers I never heard of to be a beer snob," said Slade, a 28-year-old mapping draftsman.

Cashing in on the imported microbrew and craft beer craze, World of Beer and the Brass Tap are trying to revive the drinks-only neighborhood tap room that was declared an endangered species two decades ago. Laws that made the corner tavern more liable for their patrons' drunken behavior turned thousands of bars into restaurants peddling pub food.

Tampa's World of Beer, headed by a former president of Outback Steakhouse, and the Brass Tap, a startup from three Wesley Chapel Beef 'O' Brady's franchisees, hit on a formula generating a robust $1.4 million in annual revenue per store virtually from beer alone. And the average patron sips less than two brews a visit.

Both are adding stores. The Brass Tap expects to double to six locations by year's end. World of Beer opens its 25th store this month in Savannah, Ga., and is on track for 42 by the end of 2012. World of Beer sold franchises for 150 stores in 11 states.

No food is only part of an uncomplicated operation. There's no liquor. No smoking inside. No salty snacks. Only a half dozen wines are served and only by the glass. Between 40 and 70 draft beers flow from the taps, plus up to 500 bottled beers at $4 to $9 each. About a third of the selection changes monthly, thanks to 1,900 U.S. microbreweries.

The dark wood and brick atmosphere is kept warm and inviting. Bartenders are trained to chat and share current beer knowledge. Franchisees must showcase live cover bands three nights a week while keeping the volume in check.

The clientele is half women, partly thanks to women who like more flavorful ales or fruity hard ciders, but also because higher prices limit the riff-raff.

"We attract a lot of blue-chip, blue-collar and young white-collar men," explained Ben Novello, chief executive of World of Beer, which was concerned about pricing at its first outlet in a college town. "We drew upperclassmen, faculty and grad students but found Millenials to be a Starbuck's generation. They are willing to pay for quality."

Hungry? Both chains post take-out menus from nearby restaurants and let delivery people serve tables. It has made both chains more welcome in suburban shopping centers with multiple restaurants.

World of Beer is serious enough about its music that the chain hired a music director. In addition to covers with a Jack Johnson/Dave Matthews vibe, bands are free to play some of their own tunes. In the bay area alone, World of Beers book about 100 bands a year. The chain wants to create a circuit for bands that can package a 14-night Florida tour.

"Long term, we want to be part of the minor leagues for musical talent," said Dave Bearce, the chain's music director.

World of Beer also has a loyalty program offering news of obscure beers, events, online chat and contests. About 35,000 patrons paid $15 to join.

The program tracks each beer a member drinks. This summer, a smartphone app debuts that flashes a count of members' "beers tasted" in big numbers.

That appeals to regulars.

"I've tried 80 different beers so far," Slade said. "But it's not enough to put me in the Top 20 leaderboard by the bar."

Mark Albright can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8252.

Comments
Picturing something different: St. Petersburg man finds second career as photographer

Picturing something different: St. Petersburg man finds second career as photographer

A chance meeting during a really tough time in Rossie Newson’s life resulted in him finding a talent he never knew he had. After leaving his job as an illustrator at the Tampa Bay Times in 2009, Newson devoted most of his time and energy to his fathe...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Flipping homes for big profits is getting harder in Tampa Bay

Flipping homes for big profits is getting harder in Tampa Bay

Michael Sadeghpour was just 18 when he did his first flip.Using money saved from a job and borrowed from his grandmother, he bought a foreclosed condo in north Pinellas County for $67,000. He did some inexpensive renovations and flipped it for $125,0...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Wee Gallery entrepreneurs turned black-and-white baby mural into thriving business

Wee Gallery entrepreneurs turned black-and-white baby mural into thriving business

When Surya Sajnani and Dave Pinto were expecting their first child in 2002, she painted a mural with black and white zebras on one wall of the nursery. The couple had read that a baby’s eyes are stimulated by repeating patterns of black and white. "I...
Published: 12/13/17
Career Q&A: Two bosses who don’t care for each other

Career Q&A: Two bosses who don’t care for each other

Q: I seem to be caught between two high-level managers who really don’t like each other. One is a director, the other is a vice president, and I am an assistant to both. Whenever the director stops by my desk to chat, she makes critical remarks about...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Nicko’s Fine Foods, classic diner and Seminole Heights icon, closes after six decades

Nicko’s Fine Foods, classic diner and Seminole Heights icon, closes after six decades

Nicko’s Fine Foods, known as the place Elvis Presley ate following a 1956 concert and Tampa’s last classic prefabricated diner, has shut down after more than 60 years in business.Owners Karen and Nicholas Liakos could not be reached for comment, but ...
Published: 12/12/17
Ex-Facebook VP: Social media destroying society with ‘dopamine-driven feedback loops’

Ex-Facebook VP: Social media destroying society with ‘dopamine-driven feedback loops’

Washington PostA former Facebook executive is making waves after he spoke out about his "tremendous guilt" over growing the social network, which he feels has eroded "the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other."Chamath Paliha...
Published: 12/12/17
Illegal card skimmer discoveries in Tampa Bay double in 2017

Illegal card skimmer discoveries in Tampa Bay double in 2017

State investigators have discovered more than double the number of credit card skimmers in the Tampa Bay area in 2017 than in 2016 — with still a few weeks left in the year. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services found 54 skimmer...
Published: 12/12/17
French group to take over Westfield malls for $15.7 billion

French group to take over Westfield malls for $15.7 billion

Three Tampa Bay malls may soon be under new management. French real estate company Unibail-Rodamco has agreed to buy Australia-based shopping mall operator Westfield Corp. for $15.7 billion in cash and shares."Westfield would arguably be the best or ...
Published: 12/12/17
Tampa Bay’s mortgage delinquency rate crept up in September

Tampa Bay’s mortgage delinquency rate crept up in September

Times Staff WriterThe percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners who are late on their mortgage payments rose slightly in September, probably due to Hurricane Irma. According to CoreLogic, 7 percent of bay area mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days c...
Published: 12/12/17
Unusual paddle design earns worldwide market

Unusual paddle design earns worldwide market

Paddling on the heels of the last supermoon of 2017, Phil Hughes navigated an uncommonly low tide off Dunedin through St. Joseph Sound on an effortless but lengthy glide.This is not easy water, nor an easy paddle, and could be especially daunting for...
Published: 12/12/17