Blaise McMackin: I trusted my instincts
“Me? I am interested in trends.
After I study neighborhoods, traffic patterns, population and people, I think about which areas could be best for our kind of restaurants. I don’t have any special training in it, I learn as I go along.
We were right about the dreary strip of South Andrews Avenue between the Broward County Courthouse and Broward Health Medical Center. Tap42 has become a dining destination.
We are trying the same concept with Warsaw Coffee Company at 815 NE 13th Street. That location used to be a forgettable auto tag agency. Our plan is to make Warsaw play a part in reviving that community too.
I get ideas when I travel. It could be a barstool I like in Istanbul, a new way to serve corn from Austin Texas or an operation protocol that works from Kaluz on Commercial Blvd. I study what people eat, how long they linger, if the finishes on the wall are affordable, if the barstool they are sitting on is comfortable. I am fascinated by why places are successful and I have a strong sense of how I want places to look.
The Tap42 concept was born during the time my brother and I managed properties.
After work one day, we wanted to get a good beer, sit on a nice patio in a cool environment at a place with superior food and easy parking.
It did not exist here but we had seen it in other cities.
Two years later we opened Tap42.
We took a risk. We had no restaurant experience. We had never been in a commercial kitchen. We did, however, have a strong sense of how the place should be.
I work with my brother Sean and other partners. My parents lived long enough to know that we were working together. I wish they could have seen what we created.
Look, all of these businesses started from insight. I don’t have a business degree, I never went to college. My salient feature is sensitivity to design and a certainty about what people want. It’s risky. We were scared at first. We are still a little scared. After all, everyone put in their own money into Tap42 before we expanded and got investors.
Green Bar Kitchen, Bar Rita, Warsaw Coffee Company, Tap 42 all have huge parts of me in them. I wanted to create meeting places. We don’t have enough meeting places.
I boiled it down to a simple formula: If I want to be there then others will too.
Five years later, we’ve created a little fiefdom and few other projects are in planning stages.
I have never advertised
I have never done a groupon
The confidence I have in the projects we do comes from the groups we have formed to run them; experts in accounting, construction, restaurant management, chefs that came from Houstons, Ritz Carlton, Mandarin Oriental.
But it is deeper than that and I realized it when someone opening a raw bar asked me for advice.
I told him this:
Get partners you admire, like and trust since you will not be able to do everything by yourself.
Be connected to those partners. Make sure they are people you want to be with all of the time.
Take calculated risks.
Make the place somewhere you want to be.
Hire the best people to work for you and empower them to do what they do best.
Make people who work for you be part of the business. Share.
Start in a location you can afford.
Be meticulously clean.
My story is really a team story. I am just the guy talking about it. Our places work because the right people are working them.Their skills are individual but the team concept is what has made it a success.
Next project? Gravity 21 on Dixie Highway north of Oakland Park Boulevard. It is going to be an affordable personal training gym with spinning, classes and spa services.”