Brass Tap scouting Bradenton real estate for new bar

MANATEE -- Craft beer bar Brass Tap is scouting real estate in Manatee County for its first Bradenton-area bar.

The Tampa-based operation is owned by the same company that runs Brandon's Beef O'Brady's and is doubling its units over the next year, said Chris Elliott, chief executive officer of Family Sports Concepts Inc., which oversees both brands.

"There were 19 open at the end of 2014, and we expect to have 41 by the end of this year," Elliott told the Herald in a phone interview Tuesday.

The bar will open locations in Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Manhattan, Milwaukee and Columbus, Ohio, this year, he said, and just opened an Ybor City loca

tion Monday.

Gary Bailey, Jeff Martin and Steve Slowey founded the Brass Tap in 2008 and sold the brand to Beef's in 2012. Mainly pitted against World of Beer -- another Tampa Bay brand founded in St. Petersburg -- Brass Tap offers 60 to 80 taps of beer and between 150 and 350 bottles, has its own rewards program and is heavy on entertainment offerings, whether it's trivia, karaoke or live music.

"There's an event element to it," Elliott said. "There's always something going on at The Brass Tap."

Elliott said he acquired the brand in 2012 for a combination of the soaring craft beer popularity, being familiar with the Tampa business and the bar's upscale look.

"Women seem to particularly like it," Elliott said, citing focus group research showing female customers liked the upscale environment, entertainment, food and felt safe there. People also bring their children, for the food, even though they don't promote doing that, Elliott added.

Brass Tap has some locations near Beef O'Brady's, Ellito said, because it doesn't pose a cannibalization threat.

"It's not a completely different customer, but by and large, it's a different customer," Elliott said. Beef's is focused on being a restaurant with a sports bar feel, whereas Brass Tap's sole mission is to be a bar.

The Brass Tap is one of the first tenants named to the new Stickney Point Plaza, just north of Benderson Development Co.'s proposed Siesta Promenade on the corner of U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road, in Sarasota. The 2,800-square-foot bar is dependent on whether the developer decides to move forward.

A message left for Terry Purdy, broker/owner with Merritt Realty Corp. that leases the Stickey Point center, was not immediately returned.

Back in Manatee County, Elliott has one franchisee signed for a Bradenton area location and has not signed a real estate deal yet.

"We had a couple inquiries and don't have a deal signed, but we would love to be there," he said.

The Bradenton area can have about three Brass Tap locations, Elliott said.

Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.