Interviews with Bar Owners & Managers – Michael Kearns from Stapleton Tap House
Welcome to the third installment of our series, “Interview with a Bar Owner.” In these posts, bar owners like you share industry experiences and tips, not to mention an amusing anecdote or two. So read on, and connect with a fellow bar owner!
TH: What do you like most about being a bar owner and managing a bar business?
MK: The people. Craft Brewers are great to work with—I love the pride that they take in their products. And our customers . . . our customers are so knowledgeable. My staff and I love talking to customers and geeking out about the beers we serve.
TH: What is your least favorite part of running your business?
MK: Paperwork. ARGH!
TH: No need to say more than that! Aside from the plague of paperwork, what sort of challenges do you encounter as a bar owner? How do you handle them?
MK: Our business is all about great craft beer, and we serve a limited food menu. We’ve worked with the restaurants around us to promote their menus and to have them deliver to our customers. Now we have a win – win – win: We don’t have to run a restaurant, the restaurants around us have seen increased business, and our customers have food choices that no single restaurant could offer!
TH: A winning solution, indeed! It sounds like you’ve figured out a lot in your role. Is there anything you wish you’d known before you became a bar owner?
MK: The magic touch for reducing cyclicality. It would be so wonderful if every day was a Friday night, right? (By the way, if you’ve learned this secret, please let me know.)
TH: Yeah, if we ever learn that secret, we’ll spread the word (and be at the bar more often)! It would probably make everyone happy, including staff members. And speaking of which, what do you look for when hiring staff?
MK: Outgoing personality with a knack for service. You need to have an interest in craft beer, but if you are able to deal with a busy Friday night and keep your customers happy, then we can teach you about beer!
TH: How do you keep staff up to date on what you’re selling?
MK: Our beer list changes daily, sometimes more than once per day. We provide information from the brewers directly to the staff—and we encourage our staff to taste the beers so that they can describe them to the customers in their own words.
TH: Nice. A knowledgeable staff member makes a great impression on us! How do you keep your customers “in the know”? Does an informed customer have any impact on your business?
MK: TapHunter is really the center of our communications universe. By entering the tap changes into TapHunter, we automatically change our in-house menu boards and our online tap list. Customers see the changes via Twitter, Facebook, our website, and the TapHunter app. Our customers watch for new beers and some hurry in to make sure they don’t miss out on something special.
TH: We’re happy to hear that Stapleton Tap House finds TapHunter helpful! Besides TapHunter, do you use other tools/services to run your business?
MK: Our POS is Square. We selected it for features and ease of use—it may not do everything we could possibly want, but it hits almost everything, [and] it’s easy, and affordable. We clean our own lines every time a beer changes.
TH: We love the sound of your place! Next time we’re in Denver, we’d like to stop in. In preparation, tell us: What is your most popular-selling drink?
MK: We can’t pick just one. We only serve craft beers from Colorado’s smaller breweries. In our first 18 months, we’ve served over 500 DIFFERENT beers!
TH: Holy hopsicles! We are definitely swinging by when we’re in town, knowing that we’ll get a taste (or ten) of something unique to Colorado. We take it you’re happy with the craft beer trend?
MK: Craft beer is our reason for being in business. Customers love that they can get well-crafted beers, and try something new and different all the time. The best experience for us is when someone asks for a [insert macro beer of your choice] and we tell them we only sell small, locally brewed beers. Then we turn them on to something they’ve never had before!
TH: It sounds like craft beer geek heaven, Michael! Thanks for sharing your experiences as owner of Stapleton Tap House in Denver with us. We look forward to a visit!
Follow Stapleton Tap House on TapHunter to see what Michael and his team can share with you in Denver.
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