Episode 24: Expanding in DSM USA
Scott Carlson of Court Avenue Restaurant and Brewing Co.(CABCo) sat down with Christina Moffatt, Director of Small Business Resources at the Greater Des Moines Partnership, to share the story of CABCo and how he has expanded in Greater Des Moines (DSM) by finding passionate employees who also want to see the business grow.
Opening a Brewery in Downtown DSM
Growing up, Scott had a great palate. His mother was a chef and shared her passion for food with him. She used to say, “As long as it’s cooked right, it’ll taste good.” He took his mother’s advice into the business world with him when he moved brewing equipment into CABCo in 1996.
Before opening the first brew pub in Des Moines, Scott watched Downtown sprout after the floods of ’93. Because Court Avenue was flooded, the building of CABCo became part of the rebuilding of what is now known as Court District.
Entering the Beer Industry
As Scott explored different types of beer, he realized opening a brew pub would be a way to show off varieties to Des Moines. Because they were the first brewery — and a completely new concept at the time — CABCo had a little more time to try out recipes and tweak them accordingly.
Great Employees Lead CABCo to Expand
Scott is now a part of four more businesses in Des Moines, including CABCo, Americana, Gilroy’s and Iowa Craft Beer Tent. He says it was great employees who asked to grow which led him to expand and back new concepts.
Each of the restaurants have their own theme. CABCo was named after the street name, which was a tradition at the time and carries a lot of craft beers. After taking over a building that was an old Chrysler dealership, Americana blossomed into a cocktail-heavy clientele. Gilroy’s, in the old Jimmy’s American Café location, opened as a comfortable neighborhood joint. The Iowa Craft Beer Tent at the Iowa State Fair was the first time that CABCo was able to reach out to and collaborate with other Iowa breweries.
People only travel two miles to eat so it’s smart to focus on what the neighborhood is and what the customers might want, Scott says when talking about Gilroy’s. By looking at the location and its surrounding area, you can get an idea of what will fit best within that community of customers and tweak from there.
When talking about opening Americana, Scott talks about how an opportunity to partner with an employee led to a new restaurant in the Des Moines dining scene.
“I don’t hire for skill,” Scott says. “I’m hiring people I get along with, that I see some future in, that I can see making me better.” He says once he started working with people who had their own visions and let go a little bit, things got better all around. Seeing people have successes and working through errors, and later partnering with those employees has led to growth within the Des Moines restaurant industry.
To find out more about CABCo and Scott’s entrepreneurial journey, listen to the podcast. You can also check out social platforms for each of the locations mentioned above:
CABCo: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Americana: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Gilroy’s: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Iowa Craft Beer Tent: Facebook and Twitter.
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