Cultivating a Strong Business Support System
CEO & Founder
Coffee Lunch Coffee
Martin City Brewing Company
Matthew M. Moore, Co-Founder and CEO of Martin City Brewing Company, shares how his loyal customer base, reliable team and generous friends helped his business take off and stay afloat through the pandemic.
“It taught me a lot about the people that have helped build this place. And the fans that we've had… It was unbelievable. Stuff that would just make you cry… the humanity of it all.”
Alana Muller 0:09
Welcome to Enterprise.ing, a podcast from Enterprise Bank & Trust that's empowering business leaders one conversation at a time. We'll hear from different business leaders about how they found success in cultivating their professional networks and keeping them healthy and strong. I'm your host Alana Muller, an entrepreneurial executive leader whose primary focus is to connect, inspire and empower community. We at Enterprise Bank & Trust thank you for tuning in to another episode.
Alana Muller 0:40
Hello, listeners, welcome back to Enterprise.ing podcast. I have to tell you, I am especially excited about today's conversation. It's one of my favorites. So Matthew Moore is Co-Founder and CEO of Martin City Brewing Company, a hospitality company specializing in beer with a passion for brewing and providing an experience for families to come and enjoy a meal together. Martin City Brewing Company was founded in 2011 as a little dive bar that has grown into a large brewery with seven restaurants and coffee shops. Matt, welcome to Enterprise.ing podcast.
Matt Moore 1:14
Hello. Thank you for having me.
Alana Muller 1:16
I'm so glad you're here. I have to start today's conversation with the number 12. Do you have any idea what that stands for?
Matt Moore 1:23
The number of Martin City beers in your fridge right now.
Alana Muller 1:27
Close, but no, no. 12 stands for the number of minutes it takes me to get from my house to the original Martin City Pizza and Tap Room in Martin City.
Matt Moore 1:38
Alana Muller 1:39
So my family's favorite is a large supreme pie, 86 the onions, add hot cherry peppers in their place. What's your go-to pizza?
Matt Moore 1:48
That's not far from mine. Mine lately would be that, except 86 mushrooms and add cherry peppers. But anything I'm getting, I'm always adding the cherry peppers. They make everything perfect.
Alana Muller 2:00
They do make everything perfect. I think that's great. Well, I'm so glad you're here. There's nothing I like more than pizza. So that's very exciting. So, Matt, I know that you actually grew up in the restaurant business, talk about that and how it ultimately translated to Martin City Brewery for you.
Matt Moore 2:16
Yeah, so there was a very long hiatus, but my family owns, on my mom's side, owns RC’s and Jess and Jim's Steakhouse down here in Martin City. And it was, it was never my intent to, I would have loved to have opened a restaurant or been in the business, but my mom basically swore me off it. You know, it can be very challenging for family life and nights and weekends and such.
Matt Moore 2:38
I had a landscaping company all through college and did that post-college. Got an accounting degree at UMKC. Chance, my business partner, and I started home brewing 2009 or ‘10, or something. We were sailing at Lake Tacoma and one of the sailors was a big home brewer. Got us into it, and then it was just one of those conversations at lunch. I was buying the original, what's now Coast to Coast Pub, from the family.
Matt Moore 3:03
I was going to put it as a front for my landscaping company. It was run out of the house at that time, my wife was very anxious for me to move it out of the house. And it was gonna be there. Next thing you know, somebody either I, or Chance, to this day, we don't know, said “You know, maybe we should give this brewery thing a try." And, kind of the rest is history.
Matt Moore 3:22
We started construction and figured out shortly thereafter, we couldn't. It would be almost impossible to put a brewery in there at the scale we kind of dreamed of doing, so we opened an upscale beer bar, right? Kind of the time where the city was turning… Great craft beer and there was a limited quantity that was shipped into Kansas City. So we, with the help of a bunch of others, and you know, we got the original pub off the ground.
Alana Muller 3:50
So fun, so fun. Well, it's such a great place to go. In fact, my family was just there last week with another family. And when I saw that she described it as a place where families can go to experience a meal together that really resonated for me, because that's what we do. And that's what we do with friends at Martin City.
Alana Muller 4:07
I so appreciate what you're doing. I find it so cool that your family has been in the restaurant business for such a long time, all restaurants that I grew up going to. Talk a little bit about the community that has formed around Martin City Brewery, overall and you personally. How do you actively manage that network?
Matt Moore 4:27
It took a while to find my place, as most of my time is spent down in Martin City now. But you know, it took a while to understand that, the place I would most rather be is in front of the oven, cooking the pies, getting those out the door to as many people and as fast as we can. The more we grew, that was not a good use of my time necessarily, as you know, I can't be in every oven every day.
Matt Moore 4:52
I love the energy that's brought to the restaurant. We treated everybody that came in the door like family, like friends. We absolutely, from the gate, did not do everything right. And we still don't do everything right. But I am the quickest to apologize and to try to rectify it, you know, hat in hand.
Matt Moore 5:12
This is, you know, now how I'm trying to raise a family and this is what I have to make an income. So I think people saw our try, our want and our… we cared more. So that was a thing. I mean, we begged forgiveness. You know, we were Martin City Brewery. People come in, we don't have our beer on tap. “Oh, well, we don't have a brewery at all yet.” And people are like, "What are you?"
Matt Moore 5:36
“Well, we have the best craft beer you can buy in Kansas City right now, you know, Boulevard included, and try this food.” And people would leave going "Oh, my God, you got to see what's going on down here in Martin City. It's really quite something." And it's funny to talk about now because like the whole, the 135th Street’s been completely redone. And sidewalks and all that. I mean, it's a real corner of town now. I'm not saying it wasn't before. But I mean, it was gravel and people were parking every which way.
Matt Moore 6:03
And I mean, when it was early on, all of our neighbors were like, "Okay, what's going on? And why are 1,000 people from Lee’s Summit, Johnson County, whatever, parking, like what are they doing here?" So I mean, the response was unbelievable from the get-go. And we just tried to figure out how to harness it and we eventually got the brewery built.
Alana Muller 6:23
I love that. I love that. Well, so kind of with that as the backdrop, what's something you're working on professionally, that you're especially proud of, and who are some of the key players involved?
Matt Moore 6:33
I went through the HEMP, the Helzberg Entrepreneurship Mentoring Program. And that came to an end, I graduated, I guess, right as the pandemic happened. And it was shortly after that, that I joined Vistage, which is a peer leadership mentoring group of CEOs. It has criteria that I'm not currently with, but I still meet with a bunch of those people often.
Matt Moore 6:59
I'm actually trying to spend as much time with the kids and being a good husband for this season of life. Having said that, you know, we're working on stuff. We're working on the next taproom almost every day. A year ago, I would have said there wasn't going to be any more, we're done. I'm completely worn out. But I must have had enough time between the next opening and now that I'm getting kind of antsy for the next thing. So yeah, I mean, that I guess that's it.
Alana Muller 7:29
Yeah. Very cool. Do you find that your, are your kids interested? Are they involved in the business at all?
Matt Moore 7:34
Oh, no, they don't care about it at all. And pizza is probably lower on the list of things that they want to eat, than most families.
Alana Muller 7:44
That's so funny.
Matt Moore 7:44
Yeah, nobody. And I don't, you know, I'm not sure I wish anything about this on them. I want them to, you know, I'm pretty actively involved in, let's build something, let's do something else. I don't, I don't want them to backdoor into this or… I'm not even sure when they're old enough if it'll be an option. But it's been great for my family.
Alana Muller 8:08
Well, it's interesting. And it sounds like you're empowering them, enabling them to find their own way. And if they find their way to this, fine, and if they don't, okay, too. So, that's great. And it sounds like you know, not dissimilar from your own experience, where your mom sort of begged you off of the restaurant industry. And here you are anyway, kind of cool.
Matt Moore 8:29
I want them to make something. I want them to be little entrepreneurs. That's what I'm very focused on. My oldest said, "You know, I think I want to be a nurse." And I said, "Well, let's figure out how to make sure you're not capped at whatever salary you want to make trading time for money being a nurse." But, you know, everybody needs nurses, teachers and everything like that. So I get it.
Alana Muller 8:53
Sure, absolutely. Well, you had mentioned COVID earlier, and certainly, anyone in business knows that we all faced a number of challenges. So the good times aren't without their bad times too. In particular, I'd love to go back to talking about the pandemic. How did Martin City Brewing Company fare during the height of the pandemic and what changes came about as a result?
Matt Moore 9:15
It's really funny. My business partner Chance Adams, he worked for Catalent Pharmaceuticals, so he saw this coming. He saw it coming for a couple months. And he was having very real conversations with our leadership team and me, and we're looking at him like he was crazy. He's like, "This is what's gonna happen and they're gonna be contact tracing. And this is what's gonna..." And it's like, and I mean, it's like January and we're all looking at him like he's a little bit nuts.
Matt Moore 9:41
It obviously happened, pretty much like he said. And at the time, I called Matt. It was the great Matt Sevart, a good friend of mine. He was the driver of our marketing at the time, and I said, "Matt, I can't pay you, we got to hold tight." We weren't his employer, he just did work for a bunch of different people. And he's like, "Matt, don't pay me at all. But you cannot stop advertising now." And I'm like, "Well, I don't have money to advertise. What does that look like?"
Matt Moore 10:13
And he says… the Facebook spend at the time was, I mean, you could buy ads for about as little as you ever could. Because everybody stopped marketing at the time. We doubled down on it. And then we had ideas. Because we do live music, we had, you know, live music that we streamed that everybody — I mean, to look back at it sounds so funny — but you're sitting at your kitchen table with your family, or your kids, or alone, or whatever, watching on a screen live music, and you're on Martin City's website and interacting with people, you know, likes and commenting and commenting. And I mean, it was just, it was spiritual.
Matt Moore 10:13
I mean, I think about it and… so then we started having more and more music, and we — every location was fighting for their lives and flipped to curbside to-go overnight, and figured out how to make that happen. I didn't have a robust corporate plan on what they needed to do. It was like, “Okay, figure out at your location how to do this, and whatever you got to do. Like, we're all fighting for our lives here.”
Matt Moore 11:17
Martin City, we had a line down the… all the way down the neighborhood street, and people just waited in it. But it didn't matter at the time, because nobody had anything to do or anywhere to go. They were just trying to waste time not being at home.
Matt Moore 11:33
So it taught me a lot about the people that have helped build this place. And the fans that we've had. It was unbelievable. Another story, and I'm gonna keep the guy's name, I'm gonna keep it anonymous. But we were serving Easter dinners to-go. And I barely knew him at the time. But he's like, “Matt,” — he calls me, he had my number, we were close enough acquaintances that he said, "I want to give you something. Can you meet me?"
Matt Moore 12:02
And so anyway, I met him and his wife, and he handed me an envelope with $10,000 in it…
Alana Muller 12:07
Oh, my gosh.
Matt Moore 12:08
And he goes, "I know, nobody's making money. I know everybody's hard up. Give a $100 bill to as many employees as you can." And I mean, it was just like, out of nowhere. I mean, it was like, you're handing me 100 $100 bills? Stuff like that, that I mean, would just make you cry. And I mean, the humanity of it all.
Alana Muller 12:31
Well, first of all, amazing how the community rallied around the organization. That’s earned. I think that you certainly created it, you created community, through the restaurant’s, whether it's, you know, beer, food, music, whatever it is, and I think that's something really special, so bravo to you. I think that that's an amazing story. And gosh, I mean, kind of took my breath away when you said that about the guy who handed you that envelope. I mean, what a special, cool thing, especially when so many people were hurting, he made it a little bit easier for people and in turn, you were able to do that.
Matt Moore 13:07
All of that has come because of the staff that we have.
Alana Muller 13:12
Amazing. Amazing. Really, really nice. Building off of that, who are some of the professional advisors that you surround yourself with? How have they helped your business grow?
Matt Moore 13:21
Well, Jeff Hutsell with Vistage has been an unbelievable asset to me. Darren Traub, he was my mentor all the way through the HEMP program and is still now a very close friend of mine. Derek Sherry, who is an unbelievable businessman in his own right. And he helped us buy the event space early on, and now he's changing healthcare with modern health, which is something I believe wholeheartedly in. You know, Case Dorman, I asked for his advice, which happened very early on in the pandemic. He's the CEO, or chairman of the board, of Jack Stack.
Matt Moore 13:21
He picks up the phone anytime I call and anytime I need lunch. So I mean, I’ve had… and not to mention my family, my mom and dad. They're always around and my uncle's been there when needed at both the other restaurants. So very early on Kevin Timmons was a great asset that I could pick up the phone and call. I mean, these are… when the problems that I was having, they had all outgrown pretty great, but probably had the best advice of any of them on what to do with them.
Alana Muller 14:01
Amazing, amazing. Wow. So you know, lots of restaurant names, but then also lots of sort of general corporate names, people who you could rely on. And did you find that those relationships grew organically? Were they formalized in terms of, I mean, so Jeff Hutsell is a good example through Vistage. Darren probably is a good example through HEMP, but in those cases, did you? Did you identify them? Or are those formal relationships? Or did they grow more organically?
Matt Moore 14:56
Vistage I got into... Chris Wood was kind of tracking me down and he's an exceptional, exceptional guy, definitely should mention him. My brother in law knew Jeff. And it was one of those things, if I was ever going to take the leap I needed… and it was so funny because I was on the first Vistage meeting. When I started Vistage, it was all on Zoom, they weren't meeting [in person]. And Chris Wood was in the group and I'm like, "Oh, my God, Chris is gonna kill me."
Matt Moore 15:20
Most of the others were... I mean, it was pretty organic. I got… Derek Sherry who is a good friend of my uncle's, obviously the HEMP program, you go court a bunch of different mentors and vice versa. And they say, "Pick three and then your follow up three." Well, I don't know and I never talked about it with Barnett or the people at HEMP, but I didn't put three and I didn't put a backup three. I put Darren Trauband, I took a shot. I'm like, well, they're either gonna put me with somebody and you know, they don't guarantee anything.
Matt Moore 15:53
He ended up being my mentor. And even he's like, "I don't understand. I know nothing about the restaurant business." I'm like, "But you know business." And he was as shrewd or curt or real at the time, of the people I talked to. I just loved everything that he was about. He wasn't a fan. He knew nothing about us. And other people, "Oh, I love your food. I love your beer." Well, I don't need a fan. I need somebody to kick me in the… you know.”
Alana Muller 16:23
Yep, I got it. I got it. Well, so what's the best piece of business advice you received?
Matt Moore 16:27
You know, I don't know if I received it. But, if I was giving any advice for an up-and-comer, which I still really consider myself: “say yes.” And I mean, and I guess maybe I'm a little over the hump, because it also is a product of having four young kids now. But say yes to everything, every coffee, every interview. Just say yes, as much as you can, until you get to a point where it might get overwhelming and then you can decipher the no's. But, I know so many people and have so many employer relationships, friend relationships, you know, mentoring relationships through, I mean, just saying yes.
Matt Moore 17:07
The couple that we travel with, whenever we travel, was a rare meeting. We knew them kind of, and she had just bid on a St. John VRBO or some… it was such an unlikely… and we were just laughing about this last weekend. We just popped in there and we were having a night out and they go, "Oh, we just won this villa in St. John, you guys should go!" And it's like, “We can't go, we hardly know you.” And they're like, "It's like five bedrooms. You guys should go!" And it's like, “Anyway. Yes, we'll go. I have no clue what St. John is about. And it's Father's Day. Well, I'm a father now. So I'm saying yes.” Anyway, now we travel everywhere with them. Had we not said yes, our vacation experience for the last nine years would be completely different.
Alana Muller 17:51
Yeah. So nice. That's so nice. Well, so as we wrap up our conversation, there's one question I ask every guest, and it's if you could meet with one person for a cup of coffee or maybe a pie and a beer. Who would it be and why? And I don't care if they're fictional or non-fictional, living or not living.
Matt Moore 18:08
I'm an Elon Musk fanatic. This is pre-politically-charged and, you know, Twitter or whatever. But I mean, he's done exceptional things and laid it on the line for a lot, including changing the world. I think, you know, I don't know how much I get out of it. I don't know if he would be my answer anymore. It would probably be my dad or my or my dad's dad. Dad's been gone now for a little bit and his dad, you know, he died when I was 10. But a pretty exceptional man. And if I had a cup of coffee, I'd probably have to throw it at both of them, if possible.
Alana Muller 18:47
Love it. Love it. Well, this has been so fun to visit with you, get to know you, Matthew Moore from Martin City Brewing Company. Where can people go to learn more about you and more about Martin City Brewing Company?
Matt Moore 18:59
You can always go to the website, MartinCityBrewingCompany.com. You can become a loyal follower and sign up on the email list and a VIP club member which gets you monthly perks for a small residual. But we're also, check our Facebook page or keep your eye open. I'll be dropping out of a balloon soon. Who knows?
Alana Muller 19:18
I love it. Well, so great to have you on Enterprise.ing podcast. Thanks for being here.
Matt Moore 19:22
Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate being had.
Alana Muller 19:27
Thanks for joining us this week on Enterprise.ing. Be sure to visit our website, enterprisebank.com/podcast, to subscribe so you'll never miss an episode. If you found value in today's program, please consider leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or telling a friend about us. Enterprise.ing, powering business leaders, one conversation at a time.
Alana Muller 19:52
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