vomFASS at the Beach

World traveler and whiskey aficionado, Carol Mathis, has just opened a spectacular new vomFASS in Huntington Beach, California.  What makes this opening so special is that her new shop includes its own bar.  There was so much to discuss, let’s get on with the interview.

Toni Jakovec:  First off, congratulations on your new store in Huntington Beach.  When did you open your doors?

The beautiful new Huntington Beach, CA vomFASS shop.

Carol Mathis:  We opened in late October.

TJ:  Yikes, I had no idea so much time had passed.  I wish I had talked to you sooner.

CM:  Absolutely not….if you had called one day sooner I wouldn’t have had time to talk to you.

TJ:  When we met several months ago, you said you had a new concept for your vomFASS shop which included a bar concept.  That’s exciting.  I have several questions about this.  Are there special legal requirements for this unique concept?  For example, are separate entrances needed?  Is this technically two businesses?

CM:  Well, the way the store is setup is that we are actually in another building, that is to say, we are a store within a building.  The bar is at one end, which has its own big entrance, but you can access the bar through the store as well.  The bar door is a “21 and older” entrance, whereas the store door is a regular entrance.  It’s just an 8 feet bar at the end of the store, but it’s a really exciting, fun place.

TJ:  Does the bar have its own name?

CM:  No, it doesn’t have a special name.  It’s a great place for people to taste the wines that we sell, as well as order from our craft cocktail menu.  In fact, currently we’re serving a “Hot Brandy Cider” in reference to the wintery holiday season.  We also offer several other hot drinks using recipes from my European travels.

TJ:  Is this in-store bar a trial concept for vomFASS?

CM:  Yes.  This is a trial concept for vomFASS corporate.  I am confident, but we will have to prove ourselves.

TJ:  I’m curious how you will be able to quantify the bar success separate from the store success.

New vomFASS test concept – 6 stools, no waiting

CM:  This is where my MBA and CPA come in.  I believe I was allowed to try this concept because of my strong background and business plan.  I run the bar through a separate till system.  I transfer inventory from my store to the bar and then I run a bar till.  I even have two warehouses, one for the shop and one for the bar.  This allows me to track everything separately.

TJ:  Are there pesky legal situations you have run into?

CM:  This is interesting.  Customers are only allowed to have 6 samples of spirits due to the liquor laws in California.  It was decided that 6 small samples is the equivalent of one drink, which is all the law allows a bartender to buy a customer.  So, in compliance, after the samples, a customer is invited to sit at the bar, where they can order a cocktail or enjoy an absinthe experience.  Another popular choice is a flight of Old Fashioneds, where they can compare this classic drink made with different whiskies.  As you can see, this adds a wonderful dimension to a vomFASS “tasting.”

TJ:  What were the major challenges you faced?

CM:  Believe it or not, one of the ongoing challenges is to customize the bar till system, which uses the corporate POS, to accommodate my particular situation.  Of course, I’m on a learning curve here, and I am confident I will work out the wrinkles in the next couple of months.  I am currently attempting to customize the system “buttons” for the bar.

TJ:  In terms of ownership, you and your mother-in-law, Analee, are co-owners of the shop, right?

CM:  Yes, we have an 80-20 investment.  I have 80% and Analee 20%.

TJ:  How are the store responsibilities divided?

CM:  Currently we both work in the shop.  However, it is our goal to eventually work ON the shop, rather than IN the shop.  After all, there are a lot of important business activities that must be accomplished, outside of being on the floor, if you want to grow the business.  Therefore, Analee’s and my duties are evolving as we are able to acquire more staff.  As the staff gets better and is able to take over more of the floor responsibilities, Analee and I are able to focus on outside the shop opportunities.  For example, we have been contacted by several local hotels to do events.  As a matter of fact, we’re doing an off-site Christmas charity event next week. We are looking forward to offering larger venue whiskey or brandy tasting events.

TJ:  What type of events do you offer in the store?

CM:  We present two events a month in the store, such as our upcoming Cupcake Ice Cream Social.  Here we are teaming with two shop neighbors, a cup cake shop and an ice cream shop. Together, we will highlight vomFASS through specialty toppings made with our products for their wares.  We have intentionally limited the number of events to assure their “specialness” and we tailor the events so there is one appealing to families and one for adults.  And, as I mentioned, we are working with local hotels, and I have been contacted by one planner who has 3 events scheduled for 500 attendees.  So, in comparison to a store tasting, this size of event makes the logistics daunting.

TJ:  Is Huntington Beach considered a tourist location?

CM:  We are “Surf City USA.”  This is where the world grand surfing championship is held every year.  Each year in July the greatest surfers in the world are here.  In fact, last year the event was so big they had to extend it to two weeks.  The championship is held here because Huntington Beach is famous for its consistently high waves on 10 miles of open beach.

TJ:  What has been your best experience now that you are a vomFASS owner?

CM:  Believe it or not, in our very first month, we did over “break even.”  That was the best experience and at last you can take a deep breath.

TJ:  Congratulations, that’s a wonderful achievement.  Now that you have caught your breath, what is your favorite vomFASS product?

CM:  That’s like asking who your favorite child is.  Believe it or not, I just keep going back to the Sun Meadow oil.   It’s just like butter and so great with everything.

TJ:  Thanks Carol and congratulations on the beautiful new shop.

 

Just in time for the holidays, enjoy Carol Mathis’ signature Hot Brandy Cider.  Serve warm and bask in the grateful smiles of your guests.

Hot Brandy Cider

Cinamon, spice and everything nice in your vomFASS inspired Hot Brandy Cider.

Ingredients:

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Mix cider ingredients
  2. Heat in crockpot or microwave
  3. Mix vomFASS Fernando de Juarez Brandy with heated cider mix.

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