From just a hobby to $10 million in sales – How one entrepreneur ditched his day job and took a chance on a dream

July 6, 2020
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Matt Moore, CEO, Martin City Brewing

When Matt Moore and his business partner Chance Adams started their craft beer bar 9 years ago, there was no plan for the business to take the place of Matt’s landscaping day job of 20 years. But, just three years later, they opened Martin City Brewing and have since added four restaurants throughout Kansas City to the mix. Today, Matt runs the business as the chief executive officer (CEO), fully transitioning out of landscaping life and into that of restauranteur and entrepreneur.   

They key, he says, is to say ‘yes.’ “Take the risk when you’re young, but make it logical,” is Matt’s advice to young entrepreneurs. “By the time you have a family, there are so many other things to consider. Say yes to everything, every interview, every meeting. Be open. My life is so much better with more relationships and experiences.” 

Brewing up a dream 

Growing up in the restaurant business, Matt did not foresee becoming a restauranteur himself. “My grandfather had a restaurant that I worked in from the age of 10 and on through school. I loved it, but didn’t set out to make it my career.” Turns out that young love and experience was enough to help build a wildly successful enterprise operating today. 

As it would happen, Matt has changed his career path a couple of times. “My degree is actually in accounting,” Matt said. “I’m a UMKC graduate, and I went through the Henry W. Bloch School of Management and the Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program (HEMP). But, my landscaping business after college was pretty successful, so I stuck with that for 20 years.”  

Matt and Chance had been home brewers for a few years before the idea to open a craft beer bar with great food was born. “We were never going to leave our day jobs to do it, but we loved it. And, after three years, all my upside and all my debt was in the restaurant and brewery world. I was splitting my focus which wasn’t doing either business any good,” Matt said. 

While the growth has been strong over nearly a decade, Matt says it wasn’t always easy. Capital in the restaurant start-up space can be difficult to come by because the risks are so high. Throw in regulatory compliance and staffing shortages, and it can be challenging to keep even a thriving place going. But Matt and Chance seem to have found the right mix for success in their endeavors. 

Writing a recipe for success 

After working with an accountant who operated in too much of a gray area, Matt connected with Frank Granatino and found a partner whom he could trust to help him navigate the changing waters of his growing enterprise. “Frank’s been a guiding light especially in fiscal and operational matters,” he said. “He’s a great accountant for aggressively looking for ways to save money, but he doesn’t operate in much of a gray area. He’s very black and white, which is appreciated. By nature, I’m a risk taker, so it helps to have Frank there to keep us up-to-date on what the right path is.”  

With a trustworthy financial partner in place, Matt is hoping to eventually have 10 restaurants in the portfolio. “Beer is always changing, and maintaining a good relationship with the beer consumer is important. But, for the near and long-term future, I could see a lot of restaurant growth.”  

Throughout this exponential growth, Matt has learned that communication of a unified message across facilities is king, internally and externally. “On the personal side, I’m learning perspective,” he says. “When I go into a situation I know my perspective, and I’m analyzing it from a specific way. But when you’re operating a business, you have to step back and realize there are many perspectives on the table. The continuation of learning every day has been so important to me.” 

Through all the growth and change, Matt said it’s important to take a 10,000-foot view of the business, but don’t forget where you came from. “I’m outside the kitchen a lot more than I used to be. These days I try to take a step back, step in and get my hands dirty when needed, but then step back again.” 

Building for the future 

While most of the Martin City enterprise is in the Martin City block, Matt and Chance have two business partners operating two restaurants outside of headquarters. “Trevor Ashby pitched the idea for a second gen space he’d like to see us in, so we partnered with him on that. Then, Dan Cook did the same, opening restaurant number four in December.” Matt said that in 2014 they were doing about a million in sales. Now, he anticipates, they’ll hit $10 million in 2020. 

Married with four kids under eight, Matt has made Kansas City his home and has no plans to expand the enterprise beyond that. “We want to be your BFF for beer food and fun. We want to be the place where people come together and meet. Eighty percent of our business is regularsI absolutely love every part of what I do and the people I work with, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”  

COVID-19 Update – Matt said all locations are open with limited capacity per guidelines, and curb side pick-up is still going strong. Be sure to stop and support your local businesses! 

Just For fun 

What makes you happy? – Sunshine and family, water, sailing/boating, the islands. We’re big boaters – we live on a lake. I met my business partner sailing.  

Who is your favorite band? The Who or Pearl Jam, but listen to all types of music.  

Movie/TV show – Modern Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm, This is Us.  

Travel – St. John or on a boat traveling the blue seas.