When Matthew Luciano and Crystal Coslop decided to move from South Jersey to Charleston, they were determined to do it big by opening the first Brass Tap Craft Beer Bar in the area.
Luciano said his plans for running a bar business have been in the works for quite some time now and touts a 20-year stint in the bartending arena, eight of which were spent working alongside The Dave Matthews Band.
“I was the bartender for a non-profit organization called the Tailgate Caravan holding tailgate-style events prior to Dave Matthew’s East Coast concerts and raising money for charity,” said Luciano, who then went on to operate a landscaping business until the time came when he could afford a franchise. Coslop, who grew up working at bars and restaurants, said that she, too, is excited to bring her experience to the area.
The couple said that the move was spurred on by the desire to be closer to friends and family, while experiencing a life devoid of the harsh Jersey winters. Brass Tap will be located at 866 Island Park Drive, Charleston.
“Plus, we just love the atmosphere of the area,” said Luciano, adding that the Brass Tap and Charleston are a great pairing and that other franchises didn’t quite fit the bill. “We had been shopping around and discovered that the Brass Tap is relatively inexpensive when it comes to out-of-pocket expenses and because there is one close to our house in Jersey, we were able to determine that the atmosphere and vibe is almost identical to what we wanted,” said Luciano, adding that the company is easy to reach and very much “hands-on.” “They are right there if you need them,” he said.
Brass Tap history
In 2007, three business partners and friends from the restaurant world created a vision for the “Ultimate Beer Bar,” as they recognized the tremendous growth of the tap beer market.
The Tampa-based business honed in on simplicity, so rather than focusing on brewing beer onsite, or creating a full-service restaurant as part of the plans, they instead focused on serving great craft beer.
Brass Tap franchises have since opened in Florida, Alabama, Arizona, California and other states across the country.
Luciano and Coslop said that just because they don’t tout a full-service restaurant, doesn’t mean that the food will be substandard.
“We will be offering high quality, elevated pub fare like wings, burgers, gluten-free items and pizzas, for now,” he said, adding that the company requires all new franchisees to adhere to a standard menu during the first six months. “After that, we may change the offerings, depending upon customer feedback,” said Luciano, explaining that it’s easier for the company to train new owners on a set menu in the beginning. “This, in turn, makes it easier for us to train our staff,” said Luciano, who plans on hiring between 15-18 full time and part-time workers.
A focus on local products
The duo plans to offer approximately 60 beers on tap. “Our goal is to stay as local as possible — to keep it in the neighborhood,” said Luciano, adding that they will also be turning to local vendors for food and spirits as well. “That’s what attracted me to Brass Tap — their focus on community. They aren’t a large corporation and they don’t micromanage. We’re going to be able to exercise our creativity and hold charity events to give back,” said Luciano.
As for the atmosphere, Luciano describes the décor as modern industrial, explaining that although there will be televisions, customers shouldn’t expect a sports bar atmosphere. “Once again, once we’re up and running, we’ll be able to adjust to the customers’ demands,” he said.
Coslop said that another priority is to cater to a wide variety of people. “We want people to feel comfortable walking in wearing a business suit, or jeans and a t-shirt,” she said.
As for when the public can expect the new place to open, the pair said that if all goes as planned, they anticipate opening at the end of the year. “We’re both looking forward to getting to know and serve the local community,” said Coslop.
Stephanie Kalina-Metzger is a contributing writer for SC Biz News.