The LoCo Experience

EXPERIENCE 89 | Ty Fulcher, Food & Beverage King of Old Town!

November 14, 2022 Alisha Jeffers
The LoCo Experience
EXPERIENCE 89 | Ty Fulcher, Food & Beverage King of Old Town!
Show Notes Transcript

Ty Fulcher is the owner of four of the finest eating and drinking establishments in Old Town Fort Collins: Social, Union, the Melting Pot and Rodizio Grill. Ty came to Fort Collins in 2002 from Washington State and trained as a sommelier in Italy soon after. Upon his return, he applied what he learned at the Melting Pot and moved up to management. Ty soon expanded into the world of craft cocktails, entering and winning bartending competitions. He became inspired to further his passion for fine beverages by launching the underground bar, Social.

Listen in on Ty’s journey from a young child pretending to run a restaurant out of his family kitchen to becoming one of the best known restaurateurs in town, with many delicious stops along the way!

Check out Ty’s Restaurants:
Melting Pot
Social
Union Bar & Soda Fountain
Rodizio Grill


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My guest on today's episode was Ty Fulcher, owner of Social and Union in Fort Collins, and recently also the owner of Melting Pot and Rodizio Grill, four of the finest eating and drinking establishments in Old Town Fort Collins. Ty came to Fort Collins in 2002 to attend csu, but was built for the food and beverage industry from a young. Selling pantry and refrigerator items back to his parents with a datetime and an evening menu. Before he could spell most of the names of the items, he caught a wine bug early in his career before he was 21, and spent many years in Italy attaining his level two sommelier certification. later. The craft cocktail bug bit him hard and he was entering and winning bartending competitions for a season a server and later a manager at Ryan Hodge's melting pot restaurant. Ty kept pitching ideas and eventually business plans to Ryan until social was born nine years ago. Next month, the union came later and our listeners will be some of the first to know that Ryan has mostly retired recently and sold his stake in melting pot and rodio to tie and his key managers. When I first met Ty, he was a young man who had just opened up a big dream and now he's one of the OGs of the Old Town restaurant. And I know you'll enjoy my conversation with Ty Fulture

Curt:

welcome back to the Lo Experience Podcast. My guest today is Ty Fulcher, and Ty is the owner of Social Union Melting Pot and Rodio Grill here in Fort Collins. And, uh, probably one of the most, uh, well known restaurant tours. A lot of restaurant tours are a little more behind the scenes than they try to be. But you, you've been, you've know so many people in this town.

Ty:

Yeah, I've been in Old Town since, God, when did I move in Old Town? Oh eight.

Curt:

So live in, Live and work in Old Town in Proper.

Ty:

Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I mean, three minutes from right

Curt:

here. Awesome. So, um, you were just talking about kind of your earliest days in the industry. What has now become a passion, and I guess I'll start with were you passionate about a. restaurants and food, or did you fall into that and became passionate? Did you get passionate about business later? Like, talk to me about that evolution of, of tie into being somebody that wants to operate for independent. The

Ty:

evolution of tie. Yeah. Um, no, it, yeah. It'd start when I was a kid, so some people play dress up. I would play dress up and I'd dress up as a waiter or a cook really. And so I just played restaurant as a kid and I'd sell my parents their food back to them, So I'd go in the pantry or the refrigerator. And sell them back. Carrots or cereal or whatever. I still have the original menu. Um, I'll show you offline a picture of it, um, that I had, and it's all misspelled right? And everything. And I had a daytime restaurant at nighttime restaurant. Oh. And so we'd sell different things and, and my outfit would change.

Curt:

You weren't yet cooking because you were spelling so poorly, but Yeah. Yeah.

Ty:

I know. I was a child. I could do cereal though. I could do raw carrots.

Curt:

your carrots. But,

Ty:

um, they were great. Um, no. Yeah. So I did that and then I started, um, into restaurants as my first job at 14. Okay. Back in Washington. Okay. And then just never changed. Yeah. That's always been the

Curt:

thing. So, We talked about starting with social, but I think let's just, let's just start to get to know, tie right off the bat here. So you're in Washington State, Is that, uh, Metro Seattle kind of region or? Uh, South

Ty:

Gig Harbor.

Curt:

Okay. Right. As of Tacoma, I've been in Gig Harbor a few times. My, uh, it's changed a lot. My wife's twin sister lived in Tacoma for 10 years. Oh wow. The aroma of Tacoma. You, you know, Well, it's a thing.

Ty:

it's a thing with the paper mills. Yeah. So Gig Harbor then was a, it was smaller than it's grown up to be now, but I was in, our school was in Tacoma, so we'd Wow. We'd go over there. Yeah. A couple times a day. Obviously my dad's was a doctor. The hospital in Tacoma. Um, I was born in Tacoma, but then we lived in Gig Harbor Property. Yeah, yeah. But now that, that's switched as I look, a lot of my high school friends now all live there. Um, which is funny. Like,

Curt:

you mean in Tacoma or in Gig Harbor. Oh, right. It's kinda switch of people who, it's become kind of an exclusive area now. Not Yeah, like a backwater, like maybe felt like when you were. 30 miles from Tacoma or whatever, right? Yeah. No, it's, it's switched, but didn't have a movie theater, Nothing, probably. Yeah. Now there's

Ty:

a Costco

Curt:

and a hospital, right? Yeah. It's a charming town. It's two bridges. Right? So your dad's a doctor? Um, yep. Big family, small family. Small

Ty:

family. Um, sister, mom, dad. That's about,

Curt:

Mom was a homemaker or did she have professional? She

Ty:

was a nurse, so I'm the only one in the family who didn't go into medicine. Interesting. So mom was a nurse, Dad was a er. Um, also on swat, which is a whole nother story. Right. Not really another story. That's the whole story. Um, and then my sister's a md, PhD immunologist at ucla. Oh, wow. So she just finished her Super Bowl interest covid and everything. Right, right. Um, but yeah, I'm the only one who had no interest, so I caused all the problems. Right. With gluttony and alcohol and then, well, family, it's like job security for

Curt:

everyone. God is, uh, what is that? Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Yeah. Right. And, uh, so and what was the circumstance around making your, Actually before we go there, tell me about like, that teenager type. You said 14 was your first restaurant industry job, and what kind of a, what kind of a

Ty:

role was that? It was Anthony's seafood at Point Defiance. Mm-hmm. Um, and I was a buser and so I would just

Curt:

bus table doing busing. Yep. And how long before you got the next step up and what was that? Then? I started

Ty:

catering for a company called Snuffin Catering at the time. Um, and then from there, Went into kind of more back house at a restaurant called the Beach House in Purdy. It was a high end, uh, right on the water. Gordon Ara was a chef and owner. It was phenomenal. I still think of that place

Curt:

all the time. And do you have a, a, a notion in your mind at that time that I'm gonna be in this industry? Like this is where I'm going? Or just you, you got in there and you liked it. Yeah. That was the plan. Yeah.

Ty:

It was, it was fun. Yeah. It was so much, It was fun to hang out with all the older kids too. Right. You know, cuz like hanging out with all the chefs and, and the older servers was, was always fun. Um, and then, yeah, it just kind of got, I got bit right around then by the wine bug and started to get like, super interested in that. And then once we were moved out

Curt:

You weren't even 21 yet though yet by that No, but

Ty:

we still had to taste Right. Fair enough. I dunno if we were supposed to, but I did. Yeah. Yeah. Um. and yeah, I got just fascinated with that stuff. Started reading about it and then, yeah, when I was at CSU in 2000, Oh, well, moved here in oh two, 2004, moved to Italy, um, and studied wine there for about eight months. That's wild. I had no idea. Yeah. And that's where I really got into it and went kind of overboard from

Curt:

there. Interesting. I, I, my wife and I have an exchange student from Italy right now. Oh, cool. Whereabouts? Yeah. Uh, Vena, um, south of Venice, hour and a half or something like that. Yeah. So not really wine country per se. Um, but it's been pretty interesting listening to it and talk about Italy. Just how much variety, you know, we look at it and it's a skinny little boot country. Right. But there's a ton of variety geographically and culturally Oh, for sure. Within there.

Ty:

Yeah. I mean, from, from north to south is massively different. Yeah. It's, yeah. It's, there's,

Curt:

it's a whole different world. And so were you just learning in Italy? Were you working at different restaurants? Things like that. What was it? It wasn't

Ty:

working at all. Um, it was, yeah, it was just studying and traveling. Oh, wow. And it was kind of that backpack. Um, it was me and my, my girlfriend at the time lived there and we'd backpack across, like, we'd do a whole western Europe loop or, Yeah. Over the weekends from school, we'd jump up to Switzerland or Budapest or whatever it was.

Curt:

It was cool. Its kinda what I wanted to do right after high school. I just, I'm from North Dakota and people don't do things like that from there, and so I just didn't really know. We're gonna go to South Dakota. Right. Yeah. Fargo, maybe. Yeah. So, um, so you had a taste of Fort Collins and then was that the plan to come back here, or is that what you did even Yeah.

Ty:

Yep. Came right back. Have never had a th a thought of wanting to live anywhere else. Yeah. You know, I'm not a big city person. Yeah. Um, Denver's close enough that we can jump down there if we want to. Mm-hmm. go see a game or something, then get out and get back up here. But I. Yeah, I've just always loved for Collins,

Curt:

so drop a little knowledge on me. I'm a, a substantial wine drinker, but not, I don't know much you know, existential learning, plain label high, but is what I'm told on the, on the wine bottles is one thing to look for. But, uh, like tell me about the process of learning how to develop a pallet that is useful for your customers and things like that. Yeah, I mean,

Ty:

as weird as it sounded, you just have to taste a lot. Now I get, I get the lucky chance of buying wine with the restaurants that reps, I taste with reps every week and they come through with different bottles and, um, most of the time it's spitting cuz it, they end up, they have their bag and they'll have like 20, 30 wines, right? Something like that. And so you'll sit there and be tasting through everything and you start from there. You start to learn all the different nuances of, of things you like and what you don't like. And, um, not just on that, but. What's gonna sell, what's not gonna sell? Hmm. Cause if I build a wine list gist of, of shit that I like, I don't know if it's gonna necessarily sell. So I have to keep the guest in mind on Yeah. What are they gonna, like, what's gonna actually sell? Cuz in the end goal of this is to make money. So yeah. Keep the business going.

Curt:

Well, and you know, I know what I like and I, I can kind of recognize certain spices and flavors and food and stuff that's more my medium, I guess, for creativity or whatever. But like, until you have a language, it, it seems to me like part of what learning is, yes, it's a lot of tasting, but actually knowing how to put words to what you're experiencing so that you can describe it to others, How to describe it on the menu, all of that. Right. So

Ty:

in the first way we started doing that in Italy was, um, I don't remember what day of the week. I wanna say it was Monday or something. We'd, first thing we'd do is we'd meet outside the school and we'd go over, the market was just across the street. It was a big outdoor style market, you know? Mm-hmm. And you'd walk through and you'd smell everything any fruit, any vegetable, any flowers, whatever you go through and you'd just, you're supposed to just smell everything, remember what that is, and do it every Monday. And you go through, so you, you start to train your brain. I, there, I think it's called stereo isomers or something. Somebody can fact check that um, that, or certain flavors or sense that your brain, I think everybody has about 10,000 of them. Wow. That they kind of know what they are. Yeah. Like, you know what smoke smells like right from when you were born. You know what, Whatever smells like. So there's those in there and then it's just training to get all the other ones. Yeah. That you have to start to know what exactly does. Um, chocolate smell like, you know, re res smell chocolate. What is dark chocolate smell like versus white chocolate versus milk chocolate? Cause they all have a different smell. What's white rose versus red rose. Which is, which is a difference. Um, so it's not always just apples and oranges. Mm-hmm. it's finding Okay. Oranges, clementines. Right. Like different specifically things on that. So you'll start to hear crazy descriptions. Um, if you watch like some of the masters taste and stuff and some things they describe, you're like,

Curt:

what how could you even imagine what that might taste like? Right.

Ty:

So like, like barnyard is, is actually a common one you'll see in a lot of burgundy peanuts. Um, and it's, it's a true thing.

Curt:

Um, it tastes like a barnyard. Smells, but better, I'm

Ty:

sure. Yeah. Uh, saner sometimes people, people describe Sansa as having this cat piss type note to it. So there, there's certain, Yeah. So there's certain words that we don't say. but like to the guests necessarily. But when you're with a group of, of wine people and you describe it that way, everyone's like, No, totally And then I remember there was a movie, um, som and one of the descriptors one of the guys gave was, um, Freshly Opened Can of Tennis Balls And I'm like, But when you think about, you

Curt:

know what, that if you've opened a can of tennis ball to smell, he

Ty:

may have pulled something off there. They're describing that it's just, Or fresh cut or cut Garden hose I know is one. I remember hearing So there's, there has been funny ones that are,

Curt:

Yeah, it's, I have a wordplay guy, so it sounds like a fun, uh, a fun medium to play in a little bit if I ever get, uh, more time on my hands. Right. Um, so was that like even that was in preparation for being able to be the guy that decides which wines were carrying in the future and stuff, was that already in your mind or you just got passionate about? I just got passionate

Ty:

about at the time. Um, I didn't know when I first started wine, if I was gonna. Want to go into production side of it and learn any of that side, or if I wanted to stay more on the learning and restaurant side. Yeah, yeah. Which is, which is ultimately of course where I ended up. But, um, that's when I started studying for my Selmer through the Quarter Master and did, uh, my level one, I don't remember what year that was. Probably oh eight. I was seven or oh eight. Okay. Um, I think it was oh eight actually. And then went from my level two pass that, which is a certified, uh, and then before social open I started studying for trying to go for my advance, which is level three, which is quantumly steps above. And luckily I didn't have to keep studying it cause it's so, it's insanely hard. It's like I was prepping that if social doesn't work out okay, I'm gonna move to Boulder and try to work at Frost or something, you know? Right, right. Um, so backup plan thing, but. once it's stopped, you gotta take down all the maps off the walls at home and everything, and not have to worry about

Curt:

it. So bring me back, like you're coming back to Fort Collins, working in the industry again for a while before social came to be, I presume, Or was that earlier? Yeah,

Ty:

so I was back in oh four, Um, graduated oh six, was working, worked at Old Town Wine Spirits, which was at the time across from Austin's, Patrick Gans had it. Yep. Um, I know Patrick.

Curt:

Yeah, he's up in parted with him down in Durango one time. I was gonna say,

Ty:

he's up, he's in the mountain town, so

Curt:

he, he was, last time I knew, but that was, shoot, that was 10 years ago, last time I saw him. I bet. Yes. Hope he will. Facebook think if you're listening to this, Patrick.

Ty:

Yeah, I'll, I'll take a minute. I'd love to catch up with him. Um, yeah, it was working there and then of course increased knowledge through him, uh, and then. Uh, briefly at the MO House before that for I think a year. But then from the wine shop, I went straight to melting pot. Yeah. And got, uh, interviewed with Ryan and Tim Downey. Um, Ryan Hodak was my, um, turned into my partner in, in the restaurants. Yeah. Um, but yeah, I interviewed with them, came on as a server and then Sel Egg kind of created that position there. Moved into management and then started pitching ideas.

Curt:

Now Melting pot is a franchise, right? Correct. There's melting pots all over. And do they, do they, a lot of 'em have Somali As and stuff like that, or Not really? It's hit or miss. Yeah.

Ty:

You know, the list is still somewhat, um, controlled in a way by corporate, you know, they mandate certain wines that you have to have. Yeah. And that's how these big ones have, They have certain pay to play deals with, with different ones, but from there you can go. Wild as you want. Okay. In addition. And so that's kind of what we were, we were doing, playing around. Yeah. So you'd have to carry these certain core wines, but if you wanted to add other things on, you

Curt:

could. Gotcha. Gotcha. Now I remember, I think I remember Ryan was in some kind of a HP or tech corporate kind of realm and was an escapee of that to get into that. Was he passionate, like you were about food and service or was he business side or like, what was

Ty:

his It was originally, So yeah, he was at hp. Um, and it was originally an investment Oh really? That he was gonna do kind of on the side, not not operator or anything.

Curt:

Yes. And then his partners flicked or something and he had to come in and work or there's a lot of stuff where he, he kinda, You can tell that story sometime. Yeah. He kinda, Brian, when you listen, uh, you can come on sometime. I have him touch base with you for a long

Ty:

time. But, but yeah, he's, he's always had a thing for service. That's, that's an incredible trait he has. It's his special sauce. Yeah. Is noticing it, teaching it, um, appreciating it, pointing it out when it's, when it's good, when it's not good. Things like that. Um, so him coming in and then learning the whole restaurant world, but having that mindset of, from a guest point of view mm-hmm. cause that's what he's been in for so long. Mm-hmm. was invaluable. Cool. And that's probably a, I think a big chunk of the secret sauce that kind of made, um, multi, Cause this one, this was the 76th one to open. Um, but it's been, and then, God, I'm not sure how many there are right now. Maybe 120, 130. Um, the Four Collins won is won more awards than all of them. And it's won every award in the franchise. What franchise of the year? Multiple times. Um, That's awesome. It always wins the St. Jude fundraising, Uh, which, which we're just starting right now, ramping up for, um, best staff. It's won everything. The only thing that hasn't won is top sales in the country. And that's cuz Littleton. Owns that because it's like four stories. Any neuros Right. Nobody

Curt:

can compete literally three times as many tables. Yeah.

Ty:

But, but yeah. No. So it's a, it's a little sleeping giant. The Fort Collins one is, Yeah.

Curt:

That's cool. That's fun. So you, my imagination is, as you started having dreams about something that could become like social or something and started putting ideas on paper and

Ty:

Yeah. It was, originally, it was a little bit more wine focused. Okay. Um, during all of this, I also got super into spirits and bartending. Okay. Started doing some bartending competitions down in Denver. Oh. Um, and kind of the craft cocktail world was just taking off. Yeah. And so I was kind

Curt:

of on that train. That's kind of what I know. Social as frankly, you know, I know you have a great wine list and stuff like that, but that's what social became, was the place to get more interesting and more expensive cocktails than other places. Yeah. Yeah. Well, and better, we just,

Ty:

and way better. There's so much booze. The thing that I realized is we started to get closer to the conception of social is that. Fort Collins is such a beer town and everyone cares about their ABB and their IBU and How much hops, what style is this? I, I, I'm not a beer drinker. Um, I mean, you'll maybe catch a Rainier or aka in my hand on a rare day

Curt:

but maybe if it's really hot outside once a year and a cold beer is super appropriate. Yeah. Or if that's

Ty:

all you have Right. Um, but everyone cares so much about what they were doing with beer, but then they go out and just drink sw when it came to spirits and wine, it's like, I don't get how you care so much about what goes in your body with this and then you'll drink that. It just, it didn't make sense to me. So that's where. We always kind of wanted

Curt:

to, I probably resemble

Ty:

that remark. always wanted, just, basically the goal was to just get a bunch of geeks in, in this basement and start teaching our guests about spirits and cocktails and everything. Um, and it kind of just, it, there weren't many places. Ace Gillette was open him, um, before us a little, so that was kind of where I would go to, to drink. Um, other than that, there were a couple restaurants, but I kind of aged out of Yeah. Of all the bars in Old Town for the most part. Right, right. Um, so we, the goal was kind of to make something for the adults. Yeah. And where you can learn. We, we'd don't do live music specifically because all these other places did Jay's sons mm-hmm. Um, a's, and if I'm somewhere where there's music, I want to be watching the music, I feel rude if I'm not Yeah. Like to the, to the players. So, I wanted people still

Curt:

to be able to talk how I'm gonna listen to learn how this smoked old fashioned is coming

Ty:

together. Or not even just listen to us, but just people at their table talk, you know, and socialize. That's why it's social. Yeah. Um, so that's why we've kind of never done live music, but that was kind of the main thoughts that we had on kind of the production of

Curt:

how we So you shared those with Ryan right off the bat? Yeah. Like it was, It was a co-creation almost. Yeah. Oh, for sure. Yep. And you took, I mean, it was, When did social open? Uh, 2013. 2013.

Ty:

Just had our nine

Curt:

year. Oh, cool. Congratulations. Thanks, Matt. It seems like can't be nine years ago. Oh, it seems

Ty:

like longer It depends which side you're on.

Curt:

Right. Well, because it, like the economy was strengthening at that time, but it still wasn't vibrant necessarily, but, And you put a lot of work into that property, you know, dug it. Did you dig it out or you just repurposed the space that was there? Yeah,

Ty:

it had been storage room since 83. Right When that building was rebuilt or when the square was rebuilt, there just wasn't an outside stairwell. Yeah. So the only access to it was inside. Um, there's two elevators in a, in a stairwell. Oh,

Curt:

so you built that stairwell outside? The outside one, Yeah. Oh, is that right? Cause you did a good job of making it look like it's been there a long time. Yeah, it does. The city made us stairwell

Ty:

No, the city had a easement on it for about five years, but it's, that's done now. But yeah, so gaining access, The cool part is if you look at the blueprints from Gene Mitchell from way back in the day, that space is actually listed. Uh, restaurant or retail. Hmm. And it just, um, took 30 years for that to happen. Yeah. Yeah. So when we were actually at, uh, one of the DDA meetings, I can't remember the gentleman's name, um, but he worked on the Square, very knew all the history. He worked on the square with Gene Mitchell and he stood up and I'm like, Oh, please don't argue against this. This is gonna be really bad. Cause I know they respect him a lot. And he actually said that this is what Gene would've wanted, is to see the space used for what That's, And so he was in full support of it.

Curt:

Thank you.

Ty:

We got the person, I can't remember his name. We got the old guy

Curt:

That's awesome. So, um, I guess describe, describe the, the lead up to, because launching and because you were a server, you were sommelier, you know, a well respected staff member. I'm assuming maybe even a manager, a assistant manager or something like that at, at melting pot by this point. But you maybe you've got a bunch of money, but you probably didn't have Probably not that the resources to, like Ryan throws in quarter million and you throw in willingness for hard work or whatever, right? Yeah, no, we all came in together. Okay, so you, you saved and scrimped and we, Yeah. My wife and I just saved and got some leverage probably to help it make

Ty:

it easier. It's very, very affordable wedding Right. Um, with this, with a plan to buy a house and invest in this. Um, and yeah, that was. It took a while. I mean, it was, it was a risk. We knew it was going to be. Yeah, yeah. Um, but was ready to move to Seattle if it didn't

Curt:

work out and live my parents. It was pretty obvious within about three weeks that your risk was gonna be rewarded, from my perspective anyway, you know, maybe it took a while to figure out how to make money, but you had a crowd like right away. Yeah,

Ty:

we did a lot of, um, kinda lead up marketing. Yeah, you did. You know, we, we started Instagram stuff, um, and Facebook, God, maybe a year and a half

Curt:

before and you could still actually get Facebook followers in those days and stuff too, right? Yeah, exactly. A whole different world.

Ty:

So yeah, we, we started kind of marketing it up a long ways. I mean, even down to, we had Penns way before that we were dropping at banks Right. You know, just getting this thing out of there, but so many people didn't. That it was even really under construction, how far along it was at the time, just because we had, uh, we didn't have a stairwell outside. It wasn't dug yet, so nobody could see anything inside there. So there's like, Oh, this is, it's still discussion. Nobody really knew where it was gonna be. And then suddenly we dug that stairwell and within about two months is when we opened. Wow. So it was like downstairs already had equipment, bar was built, like all that stuff. When we finally cut the whole in the building to make the stairwell. That's so cool. Um, everyone's like, God, you guys, you guys built that so quick. It's like, we've been down there for a while.

Curt:

We were just using the internal stairway. Yeah. As we were

Ty:

all the, all the coolers, um, all the equipment, all the, the marble, um, or, uh, granite, sorry for the bar top, all that stuff came down of 180 degree back staircase.

Curt:

I, uh, I financed a couple of. Food and beverage operations over the years and you know, usually it was a half million or something like that by the time you got all the equipment in the tables and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Yeah. But you guys have nicer stuff. Maybe. Maybe that's close. Anyway, it's very almost dead on actually. Yeah. The last one I did was a brewery, so there was a bunch of stainless steel tanks and stuff. You didn't have all that. So the granite replaces the stainless steel tanks. Yeah, man. You got some of the coolest, like, almost like custom style, like cutting boards and slicers and different little tools. I'm sure they're not, but yeah, the,

Ty:

there's a lot of different ones that people aren't normally, they're like, cutting boards are just booze boards. Uh, we picked those up at, at, um, the cupboard actually. Uh, but then yeah, the slicers, those are definitely

Curt:

unique. There's some cool stuff. Yeah. Those are fun. Yeah. Yeah. So, um, I guess talk about like, what's it take to make a. you had some food, but mostly it's, I'm sure 80% of your revenues is, is cocktails and wine. Yeah. We're 70 30. 70 30. Okay. So you do sell a fair bit of food, really? It's good. And it's grown. Yeah.

Ty:

Our food is, is has increased. I mean, it's amazing what, um, our our different chefs and kitchen managers over the past. And then, um, I have an incredible girl mi dangler right now who, um, who's doing it and the things that they can come up with that they can kick out of that little kitchen is very surprising. That's cool. Because it's, it's not only is the size of it very small, but the constraints that we have, there's no hood and it's because there's offices and stores and everything. It's like we can't put a hood straight through everybody else's spot. Right, Right. So we had to come up. Well, what kind of food are we gonna be able to do out of these combo ovens and hot plates and things like that. Yeah. And the, that's where I always have been a big fan of charcuterie. And so that was always kinda the plan for the front part. Um, and there's skepticism by right on, uh, and I was right at the time on if, on if Shak like, who's gonna come want to eat meat and cheese? And I'm like, Trust me. He's like, You have a backup plan. I'm like, I got a backup plan.

Curt:

There was no backup plan, Ryan. I didn't have a backup plan. Right.

Ty:

But, um, no, it, it went off, it was something that wasn't readily available in Fort Collins at the time. Yeah. Like we were driving down to Boulder to curd to buy, um, most of our like prosciutto and stuff for the house. Yeah. Yeah. Cause my wife's always

Curt:

been a big fan. Well, and like the timing was good as well because like the, the gluten avoidance and, you know Yeah. Things and, and just carb avoidance in general and stuff. And you know, you get up. Plate full of cheese, meat and olives and a few little crackers, and you're like, I did good. Plus I had three cocktails. You know, Yeah. I'm healthy.

Ty:

Yeah, no, for sure. And I mean, there's, we've never thought of this as the part, but a lot of people are like, Well, it's salty. It makes you drink more. It's like, it's true. It's never been a plan. But, um, yeah, there's that and it's, we don't, we don't fry anything there. So, you know, there's no need for a grease trap, which throws at giant savings. Yep.

Curt:

Um, and, and a lot of savings on smells and problems and maintenance and all that too. Yeah. We got enough

Ty:

maintenance things to deal with on a, as any restaurant does life And way throw one more in.

Curt:

So, um, I guess any major milestones in the evolution of social, nine years in now to me from, and I'm outsider looking in, obviously, but it seems like it's just been kind of more of how we started in a lot of ways, you know, new stuff, new creative cocktails and food and whatever, but. overall, Not a lot of change. Yeah. It's,

Ty:

it's, it's just been a marathon. Everything continues just to keep going. You know, we've, we've, for a long time, Covid really shook everything. Of course.

Curt:

Yeah. We'll get into Covid Nation here in a minute too. But,

Ty:

but yeah, no, we still have, um, Nate, uh, who's our general manager and bar managers, been with us now eight years. Wow. Uh, Malachi's been with us eight years, um, is our lead bartender. So, I mean, that's a milestone every year that I, that's special to have those kind of, And they're phenomenal guys. Yeah. Some of those talented in, in the state for

Curt:

sure. Just the city, City and social went well. You made some money there. The city wanted to clean up that property across from the old mission and do something with it. And you guys raised your hand or how, how, Tell me about that story of the union, because that's probably in some ways more of a big Ballers Club play. The social was, it

Ty:

was a, it was a big one. It was a hard one to do. Um, it was challenging, so yeah. That was actually the railroad owned, um, Oh, the railroad, Okay. They owned the property. Sure. They leased it to the city for $50 a year. Was one of those type of deals. Yeah. Yeah. Um, and I think they started to see the liability of what it had become. Um, so

Curt:

the railroad's, like, we've got homeless people on our property all the time and the city pays us 50 bucks a year to take that liability. Right. Yeah.

Ty:

No, thank you, Um, so they actually put it up and Blue Ocean bought it. Oh. And then, um, Blue Ocean approached us, uh, Ryan first, and then I remember exactly where he was when he, we were actually at social. And he came in, opened this file and like, showed me like this first initial design of a building and, and we started talking about it. We started meeting with them, kept designing, and it was gonna be a built to suit and we were gonna lease it from them. Mm-hmm. um, We were working with V F L A, um, if you know Chris Aaronson. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Incredible

Curt:

team. Yeah, I, uh, I used to ride motorcycles with Justin all the time, actually. Oh. He was my, my favorite motorcycle riding buddy. Yeah.

Ty:

He loved that. Yeah.

Curt:

Um, his wife really blessed me at his memorial by saying, you know, those of you that are blaming Justin, you just stop it. You know, he died doing what he loved and not everybody gets that chance. So Right. Mexico. Correct. Yeah. But anyway, Chris has done a great job of, you know, I'm sure that had have been traumatic for him. Yeah. And probably about right that time was No, Justin was still around. Chris was his kind of lead guy at that point, kind of transition planning. Yeah. He came into as principal. Yeah. As a partner. Yep. Right. So, so they designed it via,

Ty:

Yeah. Which first off the name is just that there was already an A there as architects, and then it just switches to Aaronson. It's like, dude, this meant to be Right. Um, but. Yeah. So they were designing, we were working with them and then Blue Ocean decided actually kinda shelve the project due to, due to cost. And when they was like, Maybe we're gonna make this into a parking lot. And it's like, No, you can't, like, you can't do this So it was a couple days, um, we called and like, we just sell us the property and like, we'll figure out a way to get this done. And they did, which normally Blue Ocean doesn't sell things at that time. Right. That was kind of their, in their big holding periods. Yeah. Um, so we got lucky with that and worked through to find, um, some funding and, and started the design backup with Aaronson and yeah. Worked with Beacon for Construction, who was, who was awesome. Yeah. They do a. And yeah. Started developing Lean for the first time. First time for Ryan or I, Of course. Right.

Curt:

Um, and so get the place built. Uh, when was this Cime? Is this 20? And describe the property if you would like. And, and before we even go there, cuz we left social behind. Describe social for people that are listening that have never been there or never even been to Fort Collins. Yeah.

Ty:

Social's located right at, in the heart of Old Town on the entrance into Old Town Square. Um, it's underground. About 4,200 square feet, um, underground, but very high ceilings. And everyone thinks that we dug it out, but you know, that's, that's how it was designed. Um, beautiful. We still made it look vintage by looking fake rust. Yeah. Uh, paint coming down from different, um, sconces and things like that. So it, it looks like it's been there for a very long time. Yeah.

Curt:

A modern speakeasy,

Ty:

would you call it something like that? Yeah. I, I normally stay away from the speakeasy words. It, sometimes

Curt:

it's a little fatty. I think it's cool, but whatever. But yeah. But I'm old. Yeah, no. Everyone still does. We just, but kind of that notion of it's not, it's not a place for everybody to come.

Ty:

Yeah. It's a cocktail bar inspired by prohibition is what, That's what we normally say. So

Sounds

Curt:

like a modern speakeasy.

Ty:

Yeah, Yeah. No, a lot of people still call it

Curt:

that, but So big project, but lease hold space, you know, it's big and stuff before

Ty:

table seated. Yeah. So there's no, there's no standing. Not that we. Punish you if you're standing or anything, but, but we seat you to a table in the chair. So even if there's a line outside, that's not because you're gonna go inside now, you're gonna have to wait three deep at the bar to get a cocktail. Right. It's like you're, you're waiting Just as a normal restaurant, we see like a restaurant and you go in, you're sat at your table, your server greets with water, and then you go from there. So you know that once you're set now, now it's like, from there we're acknowledged and we gotta order and have the drinks delivered.

Curt:

So, and then, but union in comparison is, That's it. That's like a 6,000 something, or It is, Yeah. Yep. It's 6,000 square foot and tall. Besides, why is it so tall? There was a

Ty:

building, um, that I always loved in, uh, Sonoma called the Shed. Okay. And that. It kind. One of the inspiration pictures we brought brought to Chris and he kind of took it and ran with it and it, they looked very similar, um, in a, in a gray way. This still has a lot of, its its own identity to it. Mm-hmm. and then working with Ripley on the patio mm-hmm. uh, was was a lot of fun. Yeah. Yeah. And they, they killed that.

Curt:

Yeah. I love that patio. Yeah.

Ty:

It's, it's the wild and it's gotten every year we fall in love more and more with it just because as the green you read and the trees start to mature and everything I bet it's like, it's become this really cool little oasis. Yeah.

Curt:

I can imagine. In five or 10 years it's gonna be like almost completely closed in by foliage. Cuz you got quite a few little trees in there.

Ty:

Yeah, we, we moved a couple of the trees, um, that were in the center of where the building is now. We moved them onto the patio, one on the Jefferson side and one on the train track side. The train track side one didn't do super well. Um, but we transplanted those over to provide some shade. Mm-hmm. and, um, so we'll still be probably open a little bit on that side.

Curt:

So you're talking, you know, 6,000 square feet, the land, all the equipment, 26,000 for the land, I think. And, and we don't need to talk about it, but it's, you know, a multimillion dollar project. Yeah. Uh, in comparison, you know, and so now we're in for the, the real chips if this doesn't work. Right.

Ty:

Right. And it's, so much of it is also, um, a real estate deal, you know? Right. Keeping union, um, going, I mean, it's a monster at a restaurant. Right. You know, they'll serve during, during peak season, over a thousand covers a day. Oh really? It's, I mean, it's wild. It's, Wow. It

Curt:

moves. Wow. And so Well, and it has to Right. Because otherwise you can't pay for that big building. Yeah. But ultimately it's part, a portion of it. You know, I've told people more than a few times that the re one, like aside from loving food and loving serving people, the reason to get into restaurant is so that you can have a cash flow engine that can buy a piece of real estate. because otherwise it's a lot of work for up and down income, a lot of trials and tribulations. Um, but you know, you can't just buy a piece of real estate. It has to be able to pay for itself and a restaurant can buy a piece of real estate. Yeah.

Ty:

As long as you have solid concept, then you know, Andy Miso said to love, Andy said to Ryan, and Ryan said it to me, and, and it's, it's always stuck in, in our heads. Um, he goes, Ryan, you always want to own the numbers on the building. And so that was own the address if you're gonna, if you're gonna put this concept in there. Yeah, of course. That's, that's always the goal. Anytime you can get real estate in this market is Yeah. Nearly a fail proof. I mean, it's a guarantee that Yeah.

Curt:

There's a lot of capital continuing to flow in here and people keep mortgage paid. Right. Exactly. Um, and then like, should we talk about melting pot on Rodio? Yeah. Um, Cuz though, uh, you were. Did you become partners earlier than now? Or talk to me about that transition recently. What's, what's going on

Ty:

there? So, Ryan is, um, is essentially retiring nice after, after, oh God, 20 years.

Curt:

He's not much older than me. Is he? Uh,

Ty:

he's he's turning

Curt:

50 this year. Yeah. I'm 48, so, Yeah. Yeah. Good job, Ryan. Yep. I don't think I'll make it by 50, but you've worked harder than I have, so, Yeah.

Ty:

So, um, their plans are, are, are up in the air, but, um, I'm sure they're, they're gonna continue to travel. They, they're very good at traveling They, they design the coolest trips I've ever seen. That's cool. Um, so I'm sure they're looking for all that. We'll still be, um, in partnership, of course at Union. Mm-hmm. that wasn't part of the thing, but, but it's a chance to. Allow me to buy in to two places that I've always been in our restaurant grouper group and supporting. Yeah. Um, and then JJ has been, um, our director of ops is able to come into Ezio with us. Jj, JJ Streeter. Okay. So he does all of our, um, marketing built a invoices, social media. He runs a lot of the stuff for all four restaurants. Okay. Um, as the sole employee of, uh, what's currently Old Town Restaurant Group. Okay. And so he has a chance to come. It's

Curt:

like the management company that works all these now. Yep.

Ty:

So him coming in as part owner on Verdi is gonna be, um, really cool chance for him as well.

Curt:

Glue for him. You know, he's a valuable person. You can't just pay him what he is worth, but if you can keep earning it right over time. Yeah.

Ty:

And then Alex, who's been our general manager, um, at, uh, Melt. For a long time, actually started on the line in the kitchen. Okay, cool. He's having the opportunity also to come into melting pot. Awesome. Um, that's, so I have, I have two amazing partners going into this. Yeah. And then we have a, an investment group, um, that's also in there as well, so Fair enough. So it'll be fun, you know, nothing won't be any changes. It's been set up to such a perfect thing, but just we're

Curt:

all really give Ryan the flexibility to, to really not worry Yeah. About what's going on. While he's off Galvani, he built an amazing

Ty:

team, an amazing setup, and yeah, now it's time to let the bird fly. Makes

Curt:

it easy to buy anyway. Yeah. Yeah. Um, so let's talk about union, like the, the concept development, what it is, even like if somebody's never been there and they want to like, imagine what the union bar is in, in Fort Collins, really also close to the epicenter. Yeah. So

Ty:

Union, um, is a modern take on classic American soda Fountain. It's kind of been the goal. Yeah. Um, so a lot of diner food. Um, a lot of comfort food

Curt:

and I'm a sucker for a burger with an egg on it, so by way that's my standard over there.

Ty:

All buy aside. I love our burger so much. double patty, American cheese. It's, Yeah, it's

Curt:

so good. And it, and it probably that, that double skinny patty, you know, you know, you got all the meat there that you want, but it probably makes it real easy to move it through fast, right? Yeah. It helps on it. Like compared to trying to cook a big half pound burger. Yeah.

Ty:

I mean, big bistro patties and stuff are tougher. Plus you have to cook, then you're starting to get temps and everything. Right. And then that gets into a whole new issue. So, Yeah. Yeah. This style was, was a,

Curt:

Anyway, not sidetrack you, but No, that is my favorite burger in town. Yeah, me too. Um, so I should do it

Ty:

as a, as a lettuce wrap. Oh, really? I don't know why.

Curt:

Cause I do nice and juicy that way. I do with the egg up still. Yeah.

Ty:

I won't do it necessarily with an egg, but that it's a little like lettuce wrap and it just, Dr. Oh, it's so good. I'm hungry.

Curt:

I'm sorry. We got some candies over here. So, um, the, um, so the modern soda fountain, is it also probably more of like a 60%, 70% food and 30% alcohol or something like that? Yeah. Right. About flip that social number on the other side? Yeah. It

Ty:

still does more, more than the average place when it comes to, um, to alcohol. Okay.

Curt:

Um, and drinks. It's a fairly popular nighttime spot, at least to a point. Yeah. Like, not late night, but Yeah. And, and weekend

Ty:

party starter and stuff. Getting people on the way to New Belgium and I odes, that's always an easy stop right there for quick bite. Right, Right. The food trucks and stuff.

Curt:

Yep, yep. I dig it. Um, and like, talk about the business of. Like the margins on cocktails are generally quite a bit stronger than they are on food. And how do you manage that? Do you manage those revenue lines separately, basically from a, like a, an awareness and an oversight

Ty:

perspective? Yeah. I mean, down, down into individual items, right. You know, every, every drink before it gets a price dictated to it or before it even gets considered for menu, has to do a cost analysis. So you gotta take one ounce of DBA mecal and put the cost of that in there. And so we have little calculators that we built on Excel, and you put in the cost of all the

Curt:

drinks. Our bottle is $45 and

Ty:

we need this to hit it 18% if that's our liquor, liquor specific goal. Mm-hmm. is like 18%. Then it'll tell us what the drink is at, what the actual percentage is, what price it would have to be at to be 18. Yeah. And then something may, sometimes something's at 24. Mm-hmm. but it's like, It's gonna sell. Cuz then we also have one that's down at 14. Right. Right. So they'll offset and everything.

Curt:

Right, Right. But there's a target range kind

Ty:

of like that. Yeah. There's a target

that

Curt:

you want the menu to kind of hold. Right. And that way the the, you're consistent with what the consumer's seeing at other places that they might see. Right? Yeah. Like if you start playing funny business, they're like, catch you at it Right. Yeah,

Ty:

no, I mean, if we're gonna throw, like you'll have, you can have some expensive cocktails on there, Right. Um, but the, the juice that's in there is gonna hopefully Right. Support that

Curt:

price. Yeah. I mean, that make sense why it's there? Yeah. Like when I think about social, for example, cause I, I, the, the unions nice cocktails but not, not quite to the level of fan. Probably not craft cocktails, if you will. They, so yeah,

Ty:

they still have a lot, a lot of craft focused style cocktails for sure. Okay. Um, tend to be a lot brighter over there and a lot of that's just

Curt:

due to, So daytime crowd and all that,

Ty:

it's a lot daytime stuff. Um, it's a much brighter atmosphere in general. I, Yeah. Yeah. A lot. There's a lot. We start with a lot of sparkling drinks. Yep. Um, on there as well. Um, but then there's the whole milkshake side, which is a whole nother thing. And then there's all the boozy milkshakes.

Curt:

Yeah. Do you sell a lot of boozy milkshakes? A lot? Yeah. Really?

Ty:

A lot. Lot more than we

Curt:

thought. I say, I thought, frankly, when I saw the boozy milkshakes, I was like, that's weird. I just don't even really, like, I want a milkshake or I want booze, but it doesn't seem like I want to. Yep. Until you have one try one now. Yeah. Once you have one, then you be like, Okay, I get it. another one. Um, so I guess what would you have people know about, uh, Like how to be, You mentioned a lot about concepts and like having something that works that people want. How do you like come up with concepts and what's the process of, of building an establishment that, that people want? Because these four really are probably, I, I'm, I was a banker for 15 years, right? So I can tell when businesses are doing pretty good and when they're not doing pretty good. And, and these ones have been, you know, outside of any covid influence or things Pretty solid. Consistently. Yeah. No, they've very stable. Yeah. So, so how, why, how do you keep people? Is it just, is it about the service? Is it about the quality? Is it about the staff training? All of those,

Ty:

Everything you just said? Yeah. All, all of those have, um, a place in the equation without a doubt. Yeah. Um, training service. But then you, of course you still have your marketing side, right. You know, you gotta stay. Constant on the marketing, but also relevant and in the guest mind. Yeah. You know, if you start to get forgot about, especially when, when new kid, a shiny new place opens down the street or something. Yeah. It's like, how do we react without overreacting? Right. Being, being prepared for it, staying ahead on any trends, um, that things that are coming down the road. Yeah. Um, so yeah, there's, it's, I wish there was one equation, but Yeah. It's

Curt:

so many. It's all the things. Yeah. Well that's kind of the approach we take here at, you know, local think tank as well, is it's like not just the one thing, like it's all the things and it's your business and it's your personal and, and all that, so. Right. Um, from a business perspective, uh, I'm sure that you and Ryan had kind of a divide and conquer kind of thing. Like what are you losing with his departure from, from kind of active management, and do some of your new partners fill those things and, and or, and or have you. Kind of grown to fill some of the shoes that you knew he was getting ready to, to leave?

Ty:

Yeah. You know, it's, it's been, um, I've learned, there's not even a, a measurement to, to use to explain how much I've learned from him over the years. Um, and with social, it was probably, I guess maybe after a year I didn't need as much help, um, like getting through everything else. Then it's like, I've experienced so many different things. I know how to solve all this stuff. I know how to run and operate. So, um, Brian's been very hands off and let me kind of run, run my baby. With social, um, kind of the whole time. Always there for any, any question is a phone call away. Fair. You know, we still, we have lunch, um, at least once a week. Every Monday

Curt:

we have a meeting. That was your baby. He supported it and became a partner because otherwise you couldn't have pulled it off. Probably. Yeah. You know, he actually,

Ty:

he just told me this recently, um, this story, which I I now can see, but he was saying cuz I was pitching, um, pitching him different concepts and stuff for, for years. Okay. Like when I was at melting pot and he would, was kind of giving me homework where it's like, and kinda like, okay, go, go about yourself. Like, we're not doing this, but good exercise. And it's like, alright. You need to write a business plan. I'm like, Okay. And so I'd write a business plan, I'd come back and present him. He'd be like, Shit, he wrote one. Okay, well now you get need to get a swat analysis together. I'm like, Okay. So I'd go off and do that and I'd come back and he, everything he'd send me off to do, I would come back with. And to the point where he was telling me that he looked at Christine one day, he is like, I think we're going into business with Ty Like he, he's been so persistent. He finally was producing all these things that we wanted. Right. And it started to make sense to him as he's seeing the concept develop Yeah. In front of him on, on paper and with um, um, inspiration images and things like that. It's like he is like, Actually I think this, this could be something. Yeah. Yeah. And we were, we were luckily right. But, um, a lot of it's been, you know, we, we team, uh, on union and, um, that'll still be the same. Yeah. You know, even if, if, if he's off traveling, I tend to be kinda the more of the point man. Yeah. Um, Just on if, if they need grocery runs or bank resets,

Curt:

things like that. You're the guy that makes your stuff. Yeah.

I

Ty:

get the, I get the first phone call. Yeah. Yeah. Um, for when, when things are going down. Um, and then if I need support from Ryan, of course he's always there. Yeah. Yeah. Um, he, in turn, since I wasn't a part of melt powder ezio, um, specifically, he was point man for there, but not, has built them over so many years that rarely do they even necessarily need that. Mm-hmm. you know, their management team, um, knows how to get all that stuff done. Yeah. Yeah. So it's, if there's a phone call to him, normally it's a, it's a bigger

Curt:

issue that also makes that fairly attractive to you to buy For sure. Like how you guys been doing it, keep doing it that way. Right.

Ty:

Yeah. No, without a doubt. I'm excited to get back into, into those concepts. Yeah. You know, I've, I've worked at both of 'em, um, in the past before social and just haven't. Been back into the operations in so many years that of course we've eaten there and stuff. But

Curt:

I love Rodicio

Ty:

Grill too. Yeah. See, I eat like a bird, so it's so much. Really, I'll still do it and I'll taste as much as I can, but it's, it's humorous how little I eat. It's

Curt:

terrible. I, I have the ability to like double my stomach size when I, when I'm at a buffet or someplace where it's one price, no matter how much you eat, normally I'm a pretty light eater. Uh, but when I'm at, But then it's at something like came on Rhodesia Grill or you know, whatever. Any, any time there's a situation where the food is amazing and like, I, I, I MCed or I did the, I did some mc stuff for the Realities for Children Golf Tournament at Togan here a few months ago. A couple months ago. And the food array afterwards was just, just amazing. All these fresh scallops and this and that. And I ate so much. Because it was just like available. It doesn't stop I'm a Midwest kid. I don't know. It's just like, somehow you can just like, Like a squirrel. You can just pack it away. It'll be there for, Yeah.

Ty:

See that's the thing is as soon as I'm like, All right, I'm done. And then something else will walk by and I'm like, Shit. Yeah, I'll try it. Yeah. And so everything keeps walking by. I'm like, That looks so delicious. I'm like, I've gotta try it. Right.

Curt:

Well, Rodessio is a really great place for three hour dinners. Just kidding. like don't tell people. Yeah, No.

Ty:

We'll advertise the football team like These are all great ideas

Curt:

here. Right. Put it right into the CSU football team program. Half off for CSU football players. I remember when

Ty:

they, when we've had some of them walk in and she's like, Oh shit. Its like, Please go to the Sal bar first please. They just flipped the thing and you're like, Right. Well,

Curt:

would you like to money tonight? Yeah. Yeah, it's an interesting, uh, like just the equation of like, what's, what's high cost, what's not. Um, I wanna jump into Covid before we kind of jump toward our, our closing segments and be more conversational about it. Yeah. Um, what was that like for you guys? Union was open, but not for too long. Maybe a year. Yeah, two years. Two years already. Okay. Yeah. So it had been at least established? Yeah, we opened, um, February 28th, 2018. Okay. Okay. So almost two years that long ago. Pretty much, yeah. Almost right there. Right. So I, you know, to the extent that you, you wanna share, like, what was it like for you guys? What was the stance that you took in terms of, you know, some people laid a bunch of people off right away, others took a bunch of PVP and kept people way too long, and like how did you make those decisions and what was that navigation and what was the. The impact, frankly, on both the operation and you? Yeah. Massive.

Ty:

It was, I mean, as, as anyone's gonna say, if they talk, it's the craziest thing we've ever, ever dealt with. Nobody could ever, hopefully, ever will ever imagine this. Um, we were, luckily, uh, we've always kept our operating accounts very healthy for emergencies, not planning for a pandemic Right. But for any type of emergency that were to happen with a building or, or any other type of normal issues that could come up. Um, so we knew we were gonna reopen. Yeah. So now it's like, as soon as it happened, we were closed for, um, mandated not by choice, uh, for 72 days. Not that we were counting by any means

Curt:

Right. Um, and what was that June-ish is what I remember. It reopened it like Right, right around there. Yeah. I remember Pinrose opened about exactly when. Y they could.

Ty:

Yeah. Yeah. We, and that was one of our things and I think that's been one of the, um, biggest benefits for us through the whole thing was the second that we knew we were gonna be able to reopen, we reopened immediately and we were prepping staff back up for it. We were getting food back up and everything. We were constantly communicating with staff throughout this whole thing. Cuz when it happened and we first did this, did the furlough, we were saying this could be two weeks. Right. Three weeks. We don't know. Right. And we didn't expect it to go into two and a half months Yeah. By any means. Yeah. Um, but we were standing in contact with staff, um, giving them the resources of how to go about go going for unemployment.

Curt:

Um, man, I'm remembering, uh, and with your competitor, but I was at the Rio about that time and on their back patio and, and there was this young man that was working his ass off cuz I'm sure they were shorter staffed than they should have been and all that. and uh, I got an Amber Alert car and uh, he's, we're outside on the path. He's obligated to wear his mask the whole time. He's like, I'm, you know, I'm coming off of an eight hour shift. And like he kept forgetting things and stuff. I was like, That poor bastard. You know? Yeah. Just cuz you were probably, you know, cuz a lot of people, that's part of our labor situation now is a lot of people left the industry in that 72 days for sure.

Ty:

Right. Or shortly thereafter. Right. But, you know, a lot of, a lot of our industry, Yeah. People had a chance, maybe this is a time to switch industries, you know? Right. So many people were starting to, this remote working was the thing that was more attractive. Right. People weren't, um, working till two in the morning. You know, they got used to this daytime seeing day seeing daylight Right. You know, so there was, we had a lot of people who. We're like, Yeah, I don't wanna work these work nights and these late nights anymore. It's like they've been doing it for so long, then they gotta taste of what it's like not to. Right. Um, and also it's just, you had an entire industry that just got shut down by the government, Right? Like, when has that ever happened? It's crazy. It was unbelievable. And it, it had this mindset like, Whoa, can they, can they do this again?

Curt:

I was baffled by, and then they did it again. I was baffled by the lack of, I guess call it popular resistance, you know, to just, Oh, you just shut me down, I guess. And yeah,

Ty:

it, I mean, it was, it was un it was crazy, but it's like, yeah. The fear was, can they do this again? Then they did it again in December. Yeah. And now it's like, well, hell, how, When can they do this? Is this gonna be right now it's a light switch. They have proof of concept that they've done it twice. Right. Is this gonna happen

Curt:

again? Well, and plus now you've got staff that aren't making any kind of the money they used to make. Right. Cause the, the numbers didn't come back very fast. At least

Ty:

for, for a lot of, Yeah. There was that. Um, and then we were just limited on, on capacity. Yeah. Oh, yeah. And then, I mean, LaMer County went, it was six feet, you know, between tables and stuff. Laer County, it reopened at 10 feet. I don't know where that number came from. Right. Um, but that was just for a little bit. But I mean, now we had this restriction. It's like, of course the word everyone used for this whole thing was, was adapt and, and change. And so that's when we opened for social specifically, we opened that above ground space so that we were able to keep everybody employed. Right. And have enough seats. That numbers would hopefully somewhat make sense to be able to still pay rent, pay labor, Right. Food and everything. Of course not, not hit a normal profit margin by any means, but, but operate Right. And, and stay

Curt:

relevant. Keep people in their jobs and stay relevant, like you say. Right.

Ty:

And that's during the whole shutdown. That was our, our goal was, was how do we stay relevant during this, that when it reopens. Social's still on the top of their mind. So we were doing, um, Facebook Live events. Oh, really? Which were really fun. Uh, Foco Photography came in and set up a bunch of cameras and mics and we'd just do this Facebook live with, with all of our, we'd have about a hundred, um, guests, uh, normal social guests who would sit there and they'd type in questions or make this drink and we'd sit there and be shake cocktails

Curt:

and tell, Oh, you've five people at social when you're like bartending and doing stuff or,

Ty:

or whatever. Yeah. I think we had, it would change probably four to five That's so funny. It was a blast. And then we were doing how to make cocktails at home videos. Yeah, yeah. Uh, Nate was, um, I would film them. Nate would edit them and, and be the bartender. And yeah, I probably did 10 or 12 of those. That's fun. Uh, and then we were selling to go bottled cocktails during the day where basically, I think it was like from three to nine or something. Yeah. Yeah. So people could come by and pick those up and. Take 'em home

Curt:

and they were, uh, like basically most of the restaurant industry, like kept the same margin on the big bottle to go cocktail. So that was Yeah. A nice thing for you guys.

Ty:

I was like, Yeah, we didn't have big ones cuz most of the ones we were selling were, um, kinda spirit based. Oh, right.

Curt:

Cocktails can't sell freaking 48 ounce old fashioned. Right.

Ty:

That's called a bottle Right. Um, yeah. So we would, we had smaller ones. They were kinda like two two to three drinks per bottle. Yeah. And then there'd be instructions on the label and everything. They were really, well, well design and done. It was, it was fun. We were down there almost every night during the closure, just prepping those things and bottling

Curt:

em. So your sister is a PhD immunologist and cut her teeth Well during this crisis. Yeah. And things you've also seen, like the direct impact on your business. Probably the mental health of your staff. And you and things like that, like in the lens of hindsight and with even conversations with your sister and others, that research that you've done and things, did they do it right? Like, to me, there was wasn't any covid around in our county until September. So the whole lockdown thing probably made it worse because it kept people from getting sick and therefore protected that whole summer Right. You know, it probably would've been better for most people to have. Anyway. I digress. That's a, it's a loaded question, but what, what do you think about that? Like, what did they do the right thing? Did they, in light of the circumstances and who was the decider? That was a big part of my challenge. That's, that's the thing. Like who was really the decider on that whole thing? Yeah. I don't

Ty:

know. Right. I still

Curt:

don't, I mean, I, It wasn't Donald Trump. No. Who was the president at the time?

Ty:

No. It, it would go, it seemed like it would go smaller and smaller and smaller. I mean, it got down to. It's a county, but then state could say, so I'm, I don't know what the, the hierarchy of how it went

Curt:

down. I guess governors ultimately were probably the main deciders on the state. I'm sure. I'm

Ty:

sure they were still influenced in some way, or Oh, I'm sure. Yeah. Or

Curt:

told by, It was fascinating how fast it came down and, uh, I'm a liberty guy and I was like, Holy shit. I thought people would be marching in the streets with their weapons. I,

Ty:

I literally wrote, um, civil unrest, prepare plan, Right. For the restaurants. Cuz I didn't know what was gonna happen. Like, it literally, like, here's what we do, here's how to pour things up if, if people start to go crazy or stir crazy, right? Like, what's the plan? And so I had all this down that everyone needs to have a copy of every employee's, um, phone number, a picture. The employee list with phone number and emails on their phone, updated as it changes during all this thing. So that if for some reason we can't get into the buildings. Right. Cause something's going, like I, we just didn't know. So it's like, I mean, Right. I was writing like these zombie apocalypse type right plans cuz I just, I didn't know anything cuz I was, so every single thing that would happen was such a surprise, Right. That I'm like, well how much crazier can this get? And it's, I mean, yeah, it was, it was something, It was, it was a crazy thing. And I mean, we're still dealing with it this many years later. Mm-hmm. not in the aspect necessarily of, of Covid so much, but the, the changes that have Oh, the

Curt:

cultural and psychological

Ty:

impacts that side and then, uh, distribution side. Oh right. Of, of just anything. You know,

Curt:

I remember you have supply shortages and stuff like that. I'm

Ty:

still waiting on bar stools on a year and a half after I ordered them. Oh damn. And I call them once a month and they're three months. Three more months And so I, I call 'em once a month, but I started replacing all of them at social and I got halfway through and then we just lost them. Like, we can't get 'em. And it's, I don't know if it's the wood or at one point there was something else I was trying to get and they had a shortage of maroon ink for, for the leather. Right. It's like there's a maroon shortage. Right. It's like, like what? So we couldn't, there was nowhere to get this maroon, um, leather, tufted leather furniture that we wanted cuz you couldn't get maroon it. I mean it was, it's been some of the weirdest

Curt:

type of things. Jill and I were, uh, we went on a road trip in, uh, June of 2020, basically as soon as things opened back up. Her sister is a twin in Tacoma that I already mentioned. Yeah. And it was their 40th birthday party on June 11th, 2020. So we rented my friend's 32 foot rv and we drove it out there and. We call it the free and Empty National Parks Tour. And, and there's a point to this story. We went to the Grand Canyon. We were one of like 65 people at the south room of the Grand Canyon that day. That's it. And they didn't have any annual

Ty:

that, that's a

Curt:

lower amount, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's the south one. Yeah, it's the big one. But I mean that's

Ty:

a small number

Curt:

of people. Oh yeah. There should be 6,000. Oh Jesus. Or something. I don't think I've actually ever been a great, It was almost empty and they didn't have any annual passes cuz we were gonna go to a bunch of national parks cuz our exchange student at that time from Poland, uh, Mr. Bus trip cuz it was supposed to be during Covid Nation. And so we were kind of trying to replace the bus trip and hit a bunch of national parks. They didn't have any annual passes at at the Grand Canyon. And so they let us in for free and they did that twice more at other national parks. They're like, eh, we don't have any annual passes yet. And I'm like, Well, I don't really wanna pay 30 bucks when I'm gonna go to five more national parks. And they're like, We, we'll just let you in for free. Okay. Like, how hard is it? Could you, could you mail some things, you know? Anyway. Yeah. It was just, it was fascinating to see the level of we haven't done shit for three months in so many areas of the economy. Yeah,

Ty:

no, I, yeah. I mean, still

Curt:

right?

Ty:

Yeah. Like, I mean, some of the, the little, there's, there are things that came out of it, um, that, things that, that I found useful. Um, but I don't know if everybody necessarily likes them. There's

Curt:

some silver lining. Oh, I love QR codes. Yeah, that's, Look at my podcast sticker there. This yours by the way.

Ty:

Um, Oh, cool. Yeah. No qr QR codes for restaurants. Um, you know, still having physical menus I think is a thing, but yeah. Um, the QR code. For us, with all these dis distribution issues and everything going on is so vital, right? I mean, it costs us a couple thousand dollars to re reprint menus, right? And when I have certain spirits or wine or food that are just go outta stock for four months at a time, right? I can't keep spending three grand, right? Every time something goes, gives

Curt:

a Sharpie out, like,

Ty:

Yeah, I'm not gonna do that So the QR allows us to update our menu

Curt:

on, Right? Or if you run a magazine, a, you can be like, Hey, check out our new menu offerings back. Yeah. And here's a list list of the four things we just added. Right? And we

Ty:

actually did a, did a test, um, with unions menu on, okay, our physical menu, let's run with this. And then with our qr, which happens to have more like some bright pictures. Oh yeah. And you have to scroll through it. So you're going through all the drinks first to get down to the different food. And so you're seeing. Section as opposed to a physical menu where Yeah, you could just lock in where you want. You're like, oh, there's, oh, there's sandwiches. That's what I wanna see. You don't read the other stuff. And our per person average is higher with QR than it was with regular menu. Interesting. It wasn't,

Curt:

yeah, it was fascinating. It's probably cuz old people use the regular menus.

Ty:

That's okay. we were retirement home just right next door,

Curt:

So, um, like from a, like how did, how did, how did that work for you guys? Are you back to some semblance of where you were before? Yeah. And how long did it take you to recover? Is, is certain certain of the concepts melting pot, social more and less popular?

Ty:

No. Everything, everything just started booming really? Yeah. We had, um, 2021 was, um, record sales year for a lot of replace even with minimal capacity at times. Right. Wow. Um, Now profit margins not necessarily the same because expenses higher, food costs, higher labor went up, you know, labor went up, just trying. And, um, it became such an employee market, right. Where, and I was telling, telling friends, um,

Curt:

in other you try to coach somebody how they can do something better. Like I quit.

Ty:

Yeah. No. Like, like other friends who, um, didn't necessarily work for work with us or anything, but, um, were around. I'm like, this is the time that you guys can kind of pick your job. Like if you want, if you've always wanted to work at this bank, like everyone's trying to hire, right? Everyone's having trouble. You can literally choose what bank and nearly the branch you want. Right. And almost dictate your pay a little bit. A little bit. Because they're willing to pay more right now to get it. So it's like the people who, who came back right away and grabbed the jobs that they could, I think got the cream of the crop. Yeah. And later, longer and longer it goes, were. It seems like find

Curt:

the lower jobs. It seems like there's a haves and a haves nots a little bit in the restaurant scene. Like some people are still struggling to move their crowds back.

Ty:

Yeah, I, I don't fully understand it. Yeah. Personally, I, um, I, I mean I hope it's not for a lack of trying, but we see applicants all the time and maybe it's, you know, I had, I did learn something that, um, post Covid Craigslist died for, for hiring. Oh really? It's so not a tool that we use anymore. Interesting. And indeed became, hmm, became the avenue. Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, we'll put it, you can put up an ad for bartender, barback, something like that, and within a week you'll have 50, 60, 70 applicants. You know, you gotta weed through this and some of them are, aren't qualified or something. And

Curt:

you've got a first choice. Like people wanna work at your places cuz they're busier. Yeah. Could be, You know, that's part of the, the, you know, that whole phrase, the rich get richer. Well, you know, when you've got a profitable restaurant, a profitable bar, cocktail prohibition era, right. Craft cocktail lounge, you know, and people know that it's busy and that they can make good tips there and that they, you know, then you become the employer of choice. It, it's just, everything's easier when you're doing okay. Everything's harder when you're not, you know, whether you're a bank or a restaurant, Right. Or whatever.

Ty:

Yeah, no. So we, we've stayed busy. Um, and of course busy enough through this year has been, has been equally, um, strong. So it's just keeping up on hope and food costs and distribution gets Right. Sorted out at

Curt:

some point. Yeah. Our sales are still strong. Our expenses are still up a little bit then compared to where they were. The labor market. Yeah. Fair enough. Well, hey, I need to take a quick break and we'll come back and do our closing segments. Cool. Right. So we were talking about, we finished up the kind of covid season and all that. You mentioned your wife, uh, during the break here. And so I thought maybe we should start with family, uh, in the, the faith family politics segments. And I wanna hear the love story where, where along that journey that we traveled so quickly through, Did you find her and what's her name? Uh,

Ty:

Emily. Emily. Um, we met in training on day one at Melting Pot. Oh, really? In server training. Oh. Um, yeah. No, it's, Which is pretty cool. And that's also part of the nostalgia of, of, um, taking in some ownership of the places that maybe it's where we met, um, But yeah, we, we met there and, and kicked it off pretty instantly. And that was 16 years ago. Wow. Um, married for 11 of those. Okay. And so she was industry forever, so it always helped as, as I've gotten further and deeper into it, she, she knows the industry that I'm in. Right. And what's what She

Curt:

understands your world a little bit. Yeah.

Ty:

Yeah. So it's not like going back to banking or something. Right. I'm in that she doesn't understand cause she's never been in it. So she gets some of the struggles that we deal with and Yeah. And, uh, issues and things like

Curt:

that. And, and where did, uh, what, what did she find compelling or interesting about you? I mean, look at you. Duh. No,

Ty:

I don't know. Um,

Curt:

and vice versa too. Like what was it about her that caught your eye? Or was it just instant, instant attraction and boom, you were

Ty:

carriage. She moved, We had to move our cars after two hours and she moved right next to me. right then. Um, but no, Emily's hilarious. She's, she's very high energy. Um, lot of fun. uh, and we just kind of clicked right off the bat, so, Yeah. Yeah. And then we had our son in 2014, Uhhuh, um, named Tristan. Okay. And he's now what? Seven? He'll be eight. Yeah. He'll be eight in December. Okay. Um, but yeah, he's, he is a, he is a trip, uh, loves sports, obsessed with cars right now. Nice. So, yeah, he's constantly looking at not just any cars that drive by, but always on the lookout for, uh, Maserati, McLaren Like he, he's decided that his first car, uh, is gonna be a Bugatti. Oh. I'm like, okay. Okay. Better get a job soon, buddy. maybe buying a 3 million

Curt:

Bugatti. Right. Or you're gonna be 45 when you get your first car. Yeah.

Ty:

Right. Um, even if, even at that at 45, I'll be impressive if he saves that. But yeah, so he's, he's super into cars, uh, which is, which is the last,

Curt:

And you got a little one too, or a couple more? Just, just just the one. Okay. I was thinking there was another No, just, Okay. The one down. And you met him at the wedding. Yeah, I did. Yeah. I was thinking there was a small child there too. He was younger then. Well, they're

Ty:

all small, but yeah, he was up. Remember singing with

Curt:

Elvis, right? Yeah. Yeah, I do remember that. Um, and I always ask for a one word description of your children, in your case. Smart, smart, boom. Nailed it. So, yeah, you and I, uh, maybe creative of you, you and I got, uh, acquainted really, like we'd met before. I remember Patrick introduced us way back and social was relatively new and things, but we met at Russ and Anissa's wedding. I was just at Anissa's 50th birthday party a couple weeks ago. Yeah, I missed it. Yeah, I'm sure. It was a lot of fun. And the, uh, the owners of Choice City, Butcher and Deli, and I fell in with some, uh, O H I O people when I first moved to town, and, and Russ was one of them. So I've known him for almost 20 years. And, uh, it was really quite the affair. Was that August, 2020 or 2019? It was before it was 19. It was pre Covid. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Must have been 19. Must have been. Okay. Hard to say. I couldn't, if it was pictures, popup energies. I, not the other, not too long ago. Yeah. Of it, It feels like it was in August. Anyway, Anyway, Yeah, that was fun. Probably the most, uh, outlandishly fun wedding that I've ever been a part of. Yeah. Like two days of Lazy River, followed by an Elvis wedding. Yeah.

Ty:

Yeah. And it, God, it was a fun trip. I'm just remembering going out and, uh, taking Aaron Gonzalez, who, Well, I don't think his, his first time to Vegas, but maybe it was. And just going out to Aria and all the casinos and just gambling and having a blast. I, I, I just got back from Vegas last Nice. A Wednesday. So, um, I love it out there. It's so much fun. Is that right?

Curt:

Yeah, it's so much fun. See, I don't as much, I think it's, yeah, it's noisy and weird and gross and I do, there's certain parts of what I'm attracted to, but

Ty:

yeah, there's, there's parts that I am and parts that

Curt:

I definitely know. I feel kind of guilty for being there. I don't feel guilty much like just starting right there. No, I feel even if I'm with my wife at the craps table, you know, whatever, I still somehow, I don't know. Yeah, the old North Dakota

Ty:

roots, we have our same kind of things cuz we take, like, this was a, a trip for, um, a team of four for melting pot who won a contest. Oh, that's fun. Um, so we went out there, um, to kind of spoil, spoil down. That's pretty fun. So those trips are fun cause we, it's kind of go big for sure. Make it special for them. So Yeah. Yeah. Big dinners and, um, take them on the high roller and yeah, let them do some gambling sponsored by us and. Um, take him to a show, like those type of things. So you're doing Vegas big, which is Yeah. Yeah. Makes it more fun. Of

Curt:

course. So before we leave, like the family conversation and, and close friends and whatever, um, you mentioned your dad just retired Uhhuh, are they, they still out in Gig Harbor or Yeah, they're still out

Ty:

there. Yeah. Yeah. He, um, God, how many years was he? Er, I think 40 something. Wow. Um, and then his little midlife crisis was joining Pierce County Sheriff Swat team. Oh. As their, um, The medic and doctor. Interesting. But his role was, he didn't wanna be standing on the sidelines waiting for someone to get hurt, so he was on entry. Wow. And just had a blast. So he would, he would do the full on training with them as much as they, as, as the normal person would. He would also, And he had a blast and then did it for 22

Curt:

years. So a lot of people I meet that have just moved to Fort Collins are following their grandchildren. Is that a prospect in your world or not really? Probably not for

Ty:

them. Yeah. Um, my in-laws did. Oh, they did? Yeah. So they're in Fort Collins now. Um, Where'd you bring them from? They were down in Chi Oh oh, East of Denver. Yeah. Yep. Yep. Uh, so yeah, they were out there and then it's an easier sell. Yeah. Yeah. Um, and it's great, you know, it's, it's, it's nice to be able to pop over and see them. Um, they're just over in Jessup Farms. Is

Curt:

Emily from like an Eastern Colorado family. Yeah. Is she?

Ty:

Well, yeah. I mean, so she grew up, grew up there, adopted from Korea, um, very, very young. And all the, all her siblings are also adopted. Oh, really? So there's three, um, separately from Korea and one from India. Oh, wow. Um, and so yeah, they, they came up here and three of the kids live up here and my sister, uh, and one of her brothers and then the other brother's out in San Diego. Yeah. Um, so that's, I think also part of the, them moving up is that three of their kids are here. Right. That's, Yeah. That kinda works out. Yeah. Cool thing. Yeah. And then having the grandkid here. Yeah. That doesn't hurt. Yeah. He loves

Curt:

playing with them. Yeah. I bet her other sisters. No, no littles in their worlds yet. You the only grandkid in her. Yeah. Only

Ty:

grandkids so far. Yeah. But Emily's the oldest also. Well, second in line I guess in old. Fair enough in age. But

Curt:

so would you rather talk about politics or faith next? Uh, let's see. Politics. Okay. Um, I just saw that the Denver Gazette editorial Board said that Heidi Gnal clearly won the debate with Governor PUIs the other day. And I was a little surprised as in

Ty:

possibly taking Pullis out.

Curt:

I, well, I mean, she's four points down in the most recent poll, but the, the Denver paper said she clearly won, won the debate and it, I watched it and she kicked his ass. Huh? He grew the government 23% in four years. No way. 23% in four years. And he made Fentanyl not a felony, which is aide crazy to me. What the fuck? So, yeah. Anyway, we don't need to start there, but I was uh, I was showing my staff that earlier, cuz Heidi came on my podcast. She was episode 56, I think. Oh really? And I was super honored cuz I don't know that many candidates for governor, you know, she's my first Right. So, and she was definitely a dark horse, but she created Camp ba Wow. What's that? Camp Bawa was a doggy daycare. Um, it's, she's got a great story. You should listen to the show. But, uh, she lost her first husband when he was 25. A birthday present from her parents, was a stunt plane ride. And the pilot crashed. Whoa. And killed him both. And she got a million dollars and spent it down to 81,000 on bad loans and bad business tries as a single mom. Geez. And then she started Camp Bawa in an old American Legion in Denver, and it became the doggy day of choice. 10 years later, she had 150 of 'em and 50 more on the way.

Ty:

150 locations? Yeah.

Curt:

Oh, wow. Yeah. She was on all the, We just got a dog and stuff like that. Yeah. Camp Bawa great. We're, we're a year into a dog, so Camp Bawa was a great resource if you don't have friends that love your dog and wanna keep him. Anyway, we use

Ty:

dog, I think it's called Dogtopia.

Curt:

Yeah, that's good one too. Or by Whole Foods. Yeah. Yeah. Is there Camp AO up here? I, I don't even know. I used it in Colorado Springs when we lived there, but I've never used it here cuz. We just have neighbors that like, watch her gone. What's a cool story? Yeah. So yeah. She's a real, you know, a business lady that, that been through hard knocks. Right. Well, and anyway, so what do you wanna say about politics with that grounding?

Ty:

No. Yeah. I, I like, I like a business mindset. Yeah. When it comes to any of them, um, for, for my own reasons, which I think what people normally will have their opinions on anything is because of their interest Right. And cuz there are a lot of moves that can be made without taking into account how like, so many people see businesses as, if you have a business, you're fine. Right. Where it's like, Yep. It's like that. You can't see any of, you can't see the pn Ls of these places. Right. You, you can't say that. So, Different benefits for small business owners or, or things like that. Sometimes, like, well, they don't need the benefits. Like how says who, Right? Like, have you looked at this? You, you don't, you just don't know the answer to

Curt:

those things. Well, 80% of the small business owners, I've known, at least the entrepreneurs that started something, took a gigantic pay cut for many years, at least a couple years to make it work. Oh, without a doubt.

Ty:

Yeah, yeah, no, for sure. And well, and the risk to reward is totally, I mean, the risk is insane, but, but the goal is to create jobs, you know, That's,

Curt:

that's, that's why I think everybody should be pro-business. Yeah. I mean,

Ty:

the goal literally of, of building a business is of, of course to hope that it profits, but it's to create jobs and you won't profit, you won't create jobs if you don't profit. Right. And vice versa. Right. So it. Small business ownership is a job creation position. Yeah. And, and it's great to think of that cuz so many, uh, people have been hired and, and become employees through the time and have worked with and become best friends. Yeah. And so it's, it's, it's why one of the reasons I love to go to work every night is that I get to hang out with my friends. I love how you ring

Well,

Curt:

we work longtime employees into ownership or giving them a opportunity with this transaction on melting pallet so well deserved. Right. Well, and people need to have that opportunity, you know, and, and, and, and not everybody has a business mindset or an ownership mentality. You know, there's a lot of challenge because it isn't, it isn't practical things that were taught anymore really. Right. Even home ec, like in home budget budgeting. I know, right? Did I bring that up all the time? Junior Achievement, If you wanna volunteer for those guys, they do a pretty job. Home EC is not a class in high school. Right. It's silliness. It just should be. Yeah. So, Um, I wanna ask a specific question about politics and that is like, how has your politics changed maybe over the last 15 years, uh, since that young man was traveling around, learning how to som and stuff like that,

Ty:

Um, hasn't really changed a whole lot.

Curt:

Yeah, Yeah. I've, I've always How would you define yourself? Or do you charact you, I, I fall

Ty:

more, more conservative, um, on a lot of things. Um, I'm a huge law enforcement supporter, um, huge military supporter. Um, but, but yeah, other than that it's that everyone like you do, you

Curt:

totally. You know, So you're, you're, you're a closet libertarian like a lot of people I. Yeah, I've heard they vote r r d, but you know, there's a whole bunch of people that would vote L if there was a viable candidate. Kind of. Yeah.

Ty:

I don't know. Not quite. I would Fair enough. Not there. Not

Curt:

there yet. Yeah. Um, well I think everybody should do their own research on every candidate. Like that's one of the things I hate about our system right now is if you don't fall in line with the party's positions, you're not gonna get any support and you're not gonna get reelected, period. Right. And so now we're creating two monolithic, ideologically compromised parties. Like you can't be the party of liberty and also be the party of restriction. You know, there's just all these basic faulty platform planks, Right. That from a principal's basis don't really jive.

Ty:

Yeah. Everything just, it changes. So that's why one thing I just hate about politics is I just never trust anyone fully Right. Cause I know there's just too many agendas. Going on where it's like, say you're for this, but are you for this to get that vote and then you're gonna switch right on it. Or you actually, do you have a history of this like long term and now I have a reason to Yeah. Actually

Curt:

trust you. So on a national level, like the things that are,

Ty:

the Christy known, for example, Christy has, hmm, a lot of, a lot of, uh, second Amendment support and things like that that she's done forever. Right? And then I don't see that ever changing. So it's like, cool, you're actually, you're real, right?

Curt:

So yeah, I can appreciate that. Uh, if you were gonna look at like national issues that are on the radar right now, like what do you think is really important? Cuz I think like if you look at surveys recently, people are like, 58% of people don't think we're on the right track, or 75 or something. Like what do we need to do different and better as, uh, let's start a little more locally. and then kind of rate it out from there. Like what, what are things that Fort Collins, especially in Northern Colorado, can do different and better than they have been?

Ty:

There's, there's one thing on there that's in discussion in council that needs to be a bigger issue than, than it is right now. Cause if they make this decision on their own, it's gonna be crazy. Which is, um, the minimum wage increase that they're talking about cuz they are going to s shutter some businesses without a doubt. Oh, no question. And it's, there's, there's ways that they could do it. Um, and I'm, I'm not necessarily opposed to, to it happening, but go into like a, when Kelly's talking 18, 19 right Dollars, it's like for what positions is more what it is, you know, I think 15 totally supported, totally fine to do it. We're above 15 on nearly every employee aside from tipped employees. Right. But they're always 3 0 2 below, um, is what kind of federal has it. I see. Yep. But as it as everything keeps increasing and they're always at this 3 0 2 below, there becomes this economic stratification where from our industry, front of house is making great money and great hourly. Mm-hmm. So through tips and as this number keeps increasing on hourly, it's taking away the amount that you could spend on hourly for back of house.

Curt:

Right. Because the tips are

Ty:

still, they're still getting their tips and they're still getting a raise also on that side.

Curt:

Yeah. Cuz I used to make dick on my wage, like it didn't even matter. Like Yeah. No, I started,

Ty:

it was two 13 an hour the same.

Curt:

Yeah. Um, but now you gotta pay whatever, $9 an hour wage. Right. Cause car 12 or whatever. I've 10 11, 10, 11 base wage plus. Then they make twice that, or probably four times that. Hourly, average if they,

Ty:

Yeah. You'll see an hourly kind of average is out with tips between 35 to 45. Right. Um, but then back of house position is, is still bogged down. Yeah. 16, whatever above there. Yeah. Between 16 to 18, whatever. I'd

Curt:

say. Yeah. Well, in a good, but we could,

Ty:

it could be higher if we don't like Right. If you, I don't like someone telling us what to do, you know, like Right, right. We're gonna take care of our people, but I don't like Yeah.

Curt:

The restrictions on this. Well, and, and like people talk about restaurants being impacted and it's definitely true. You know, if they change it, say they pick a $19 local minimum wage, the big problem with that is all your $19 an hour, people now want 24. And all your $23 an hour, people now want 26 because, Well, the bigger thing. Right.

Ty:

And this is what's happened before, You know, the, the very first minimum wage increase. God, What year was it? I wanna say it was 1930s or something. Um, well, here, let me skip from that on that one. I'll go to more recent, oh seven to 11, I believe it was. They did a study and watch minimum wage as the increase happened and by forced ones, and they kept watching, um, the jobs drop. Yeah. The amount of jobs drop. Yeah. Because,

Curt:

and especially, especially on, uh, underserved classes.

Ty:

Yeah. Well, and what you'll see is some of these employers, this is not in our, necessarily our industry, but in any industry, they'll start to find ways to automate it. Mm-hmm. they'll start to find people and it's like, well, hey, I could pay this person 25 and they're gonna have a higher output Yep. Than this new person. At 18. Right. And then the group that it hits the hardest is new workforce people. High school people

Curt:

just come, they're market, they're at first.

Ty:

It's like, you, you, I'd rather pay 22 for someone who I know is gonna crush Right. Than 18 for someone who I still have to train

Curt:

and find out if it's good. Right. Cause you might have to have spent $5,000 training before you even Right. And

Ty:

I'm not saying that that's like, that I want to do then that's how it's gonna happen. But that's what, Yeah. Yeah. That's what happens. That's the moral

Curt:

hazard then there. Yeah. Yeah.

Ty:

That's, that's just what happens when this goes on. So.

Curt:

Well, it'll be too late by the time this podcast airs, but I'm, I'm with you. Yeah. I don't know when it, when it, Well, and the other part about that is, is you also drive, So we have climate goals and like you drive people to other places to go get jobs or to come in from farther away and stuff like that too. Like it, I don't know. It's a challenge. Right. So anything to say on politics on a state or national basis, uh, that's, Relevant to your world, especially, I guess, What are you, what are you passionate about? Stop spending so much

Ty:

money. Right. stop. They're throwing money at everything. It's like, I don't know how it keeps

Curt:

happening. The, I'm, I'm writing my monthly blog right now. You're probably not a subscriber, but it's a Scary Times is my title. I always come up with the title first and it's always seasonal. So we got Halloween coming and the Congressional Budget Office based on current projections and mild inflation concerns projects that the federal government budget could be 40% taken by interest payments by 2040. Jesus. Right? Like we can do better things with our money than pay interest on our debt. Yeah. Like I'd rather have us bombing people well, maybe not but, but like, like do something useful with it. At least like servicing debt from when you. leverage your balance sheet unnecessarily is not a good use of federal funds.

Ty:

Yeah. But it, there's just, Yeah. There was so many different things, you know, um, when we watched the Restaurant Relief Fund Mm. And it was, it was up for vote and everything. Um, and that would've brought so much cuz there were so many people that applied for it. And only about, I think a quarter of them actually got the first round before it ran outta money. Wow. Before it ran outta money. And there were so many businesses that that could have kept their doors open to, to this day, but they didn't get it. And it, which took so long to have, for it to get

Curt:

voted on. Yeah. A slow a a quick no is better than a slow maybe. Yeah. Is what my, one of my early bosses

Ty:

said. What ended up happening was they started lumping in all these other, um, things like minor league baseball teams and, um, different venues and stuff started to jump into the same. RF group. Oh, right. Where it's like, wait, what? No, no. If you guys were voting on restaurant stuff, then you totally, this could have passed. But now it's like, why are you putting in like these random different things? So it started to get kind of just busy and I think that's where they kind of missed the ball on that. But then they're go off and spend an insane amount on something else right. Afterwards, like, Yeah, you just missed the, your actual people here. Right. Your businesses in the country. Yeah. And now you're spending it on some move in Venezuela or

Curt:

something. Yeah. It was interesting, even the way PPP was designed, I barely, I got $9,200 because that time before that my salary was so low and so was my one staff person's salary. But by the time it actually happened, I'd grown local, think tank a fair bit, and my salary was higher. And so it was hers. but it didn't matter. It was looking back. And so it was kind of like the old principle of banking. If you need money, you don't get it. If you don't need money, then here's some.

Ty:

Yeah, no, and that was a PPP was a weird thing. I saw a lot of, um, uses of, Yeah. And there's been a lot of, like, I know there was just the other day I didn't, I haven't watched it, but there was an American Greed episode. I saw being advertisers, a bunch of fraud. Oh yeah. From just millions of different covid funds where I'm like, my god. I know, I know. I'm sure it was happening

Curt:

it a lot. I think there was a study in California that like 35% of unemployment checks in California were fraudulent during wild an audit.

Ty:

We, we get unemployment things still to this day. Um, Somebody trying to go and it's, in fact, we had one for, one for Ryan, came through to, uh, social and it's like obviously he did not file for an employment. Right, Right. Um, uh, but it came through and his job position was psychiatrist So it wasn't even like our industry, but it was like, I'm like, well, you know, I mean, granted he has done that at times for sure, but as

Curt:

of all business owners, but

Ty:

yeah. So it's like, okay, these stupid things need to stop happening.

Curt:

So, uh, let's talk about faith. I haven't heard much mention, uh, has that been a part of your life?

Ty:

Not, not a whole lot. You know, I grew up, um, in private Catholic schools. Okay. Um, but was never. and maybe it's, it's the same feeling that I had where it's like almost forced down your throat. Don't make me do stuff. Yeah. Yeah. And so it's like, like I'll find stuff on my own if I have interest. Right. Um, so always been around a lot of discussions of it and stuff and Yeah. But just never been, um, never been largely focused on

Curt:

it. So what it sounds like is you haven't, I guess you haven't embraced Catholicism at least, but you also haven't rejected Christ or God necessarily or the Bible. No,

Ty:

I haven't really, I haven't rejected anything, um, haven't fully really accepted anything. I'm just, Yeah,

Curt:

I haven't looked into it too much yet. Yeah. Yeah. I just kind of, is it something as Tristan gets a little older that I know that happens to a lot of couples, they're like, you know, we're fine, we're good, and then they're good

Ty:

if he, if he has questions or he has interests, he wants to learn about it, he's more than welcome and I'll support him through it. Yeah. Um, absolutely. I mean, that's the other thing is like, I wasn't raised. Uh, we would go to church here and there and stuff. Yeah. But it wasn't, uh, every Sunday without a doubt we're going Right, right, right. To this type of thing. So it was never, um, forced on my throat growing up

Curt:

either. If you have, uh, an impression, like if I say the word Catholic or if I say the word ca a Christian or church or things like what, what thoughts come to your mind first? Is it positive or negative or neutral? Neutral. Yeah. Makes me think of childhood real quick. Yeah.

Ty:

Yeah. Fair enough. If I hear Catholic, I just instantly think

Curt:

high school. Really? And were you, was it like all boys cool too? No,

Ty:

we were co-ed. Um, it was a Jesuit. Oh yeah. Um, so we

Curt:

were What does Jesuit mean? I don't know. Okay. It definitely seems like a little bit more set apart and serious way of the Catholics or something. I have no idea.

Ty:

Okay. I really have no

idea.

Curt:

I'll ask somebody else. The future, I guess.

Ty:

Yeah. I just know a lot of our, our students would go from Bellerman where, where we were at, which is a high school and would go off to Gonzaga. Right. Which, which is also Jesuit, so that's the only thing that I knew. Yeah. Is they, they both are the same in some run. I don't know if know

Curt:

who that run is, whatever Jesuits means. I don't know for sure, but we, we

Ty:

had math at school and we'd have to go to that. Yeah. It's about the extent of my knowledge

Curt:

and any, like, my sense is, is that you're like me. I'm kind of good. Like, you don't have any intrigue on that element. How, how old a guy are you now? 39. Okay. So yeah. Any, any like developing thoughts or more intrigue or just kind of not really

Ty:

open for it? Something, something could change. Okay. Not actively pursuing or trying to do anything right now. Yeah. Yeah. Just I think, yeah, just left foot, right foot. Yeah, just kind of the focus it's

Curt:

been right now. I think that was, I don't know if it was, like I mentioned earlier, during the kind of early politics, or maybe even earlier than that, like I was surprised there wasn't like armed protests almost against some of the shutdowns and things. Right. And probably the group that kicked the hardest was the Christians. And as a matter of fact, one of my longtime friends, single gal, that's always pretty and pretty resentful of the church because of frankly a, a Catholic background go sour. Um, yeah. And I never went sour. I just never, never really, Yeah. Never had that much interest. Yeah. But she's becoming increasingly curious in part because she has kind of those conservative values kind of, that don't tell me what I'm need to do kind of mentality and some of that stuff. And she just didn't have anybody else thinking like her ex expressively, except for certain church elements that she saw. So, and I think that's happening a lot. I've met a lot of people, at least in our little church, that have kind of come to faith during this kind of weird covid time in part because of, I dunno what you would call it, like the light on the hill was shown in some ways mm-hmm. for that at least attempted pushback, you know, that that phrase, you know, we kept the liquor stores and the weed shops open, but closed the churches for three months, you know? Right. It stands in the restaurants. Did churches get closed? Oh yeah. Oh, oh yeah. Our church was one of the first to open a couple weeks before it was officially Okay. But yeah, they were shut down for that whole time. Just about. Yeah.

Ty:

Yeah. No, that, I mean, it's a great argument,

Curt:

Yeah, I totally get it. Um, The Loco experience is our final segment. It's the craziest experience of your lifetime that you're willing to share. And it could be a moment we go back to Covid, a day, it could be a year.

Ty:

Um, Yeah. I mean, I don't know. It's been a lot of crazy, crazy times. I

Curt:

mean, anything that changed you, like any moment in particular where you can look back and be like, You know what? I was kind of a different tie after that.

Ty:

I'd, I mean, opening a business is definitely a big one. Um, there was a five year segment that we, um, bought our house, got married, opened a business, and had our child Yeah. Within five years, So it's like we got everything done. So that was all crazy when Tristan was born. That's, that was definitely like, okay, you already have your focuses and, and responsibilities. Now you have very big responsibility. Yeah. On here.

Curt:

And um, and has she been full-time mom mostly

Ty:

since then? Yeah. Cool. Yeah, she's stayed home, um, with him. Uh, which is probably one of the main reasons I put him as so smart is that she's, she's constantly teaching him and, um, playing with him and interacting. So he's, he's a trip. But yeah. You know, you never realize, you think you love something and care about something, but then once you have a kid, it's like a, it's like, oh, I thought I knew what protective and caring and what that was, and now it's like a whole like, yeah, yeah. Like, oh, this is actually what that is. Right, right. So yeah, watching over him, um, I'd say that was probably been one of the craziest experiences. But then other, I mean other things like, that's such a broad answer. You know, during covid we had, there were, aside from the no income for all that time, six months um, the. There were a lot like being down there, making these different bottle cocktails and stuff at night, uh, was fun seeing Old Town in a complete least completely empty state. Oh my God. Was just, uh, I mean, you'd walk outside and there's not a car driving by. There's not a car in the road, and it's 10 o'clock at night. I did

Curt:

a Facebook Live video one time at 10 o'clock on Friday night, and I was like, Well, there's no line at the Trailhead, and if there's no line at the Trailhead, you know it's dead at the stakeout Right. You know, and, and it was just like you say, it was so surreal. Yeah. To be down there. Just the lights are on, but there's nobody home. Not a

Ty:

single soul down there. Right. So we, we would set up, uh, we had some like bird scooters, and we set up like little tracks, like including College Mountain through the Square, and we we would just do races down there. I wish I would've known about that. I would've went down. It was, yeah. That was pretty fun. Um, so I, I mean, just the whole. That whole experience was absolutely crazy. You know, there's, there's a million crazy stories I have from, from the years in restaurants and, um, Have you ever had a

Curt:

time when you just wanted to quit it?

Ty:

Quit the industry? Yeah. It times I wanna quit for the night. Right.

Curt:

I'm like, like, it's just even during the hardest times of Covid and stuff, you still know you wanna be around this. Yeah. Oh

Ty:

yeah. Forever. Well then it's, it's not just me. It's like during Covid stuff, it's like, Yeah, could we give up and somehow cash out and go Yeah. But now I'm

Curt:

screwing all of my employees. Yeah. 60 or 150 employees. Yeah. Something. So it's like

Ty:

they rely on, on us to make sure that they can come back to a business as much as I rely on them Yeah. To hopefully come back so we can operate. Yeah. You know? So, So it's, it's like having so many dependents on you as well, that there's a lot, there was a lot of pressure on it. Of course. Yeah. It's like, are we gonna be able to get through, open this back up and. And bring the family back in. And how

Curt:

was that for you guys from a, from a political standpoint, Like I imagine it was in some ways easier than some businesses because, because of the food service things you were kind of required, you're, it's mask on. And I don't know, did did you have like, uh, vaccine mandates or things like that? You were big enough to have that obligation? No, nor but, but there was a lot of people that were like, I don't want to be in a room with anybody that hasn't been vaccinated. And other people that were like, Yeah, and I don't wanna wear a mask. I

Ty:

know, I know some, some I know people who won't go to places that had band-aids even to this day. Yeah. Oh yeah. Um, we, we were doing what was asked of us by the government and we, we would keep our personal opinions out of it. Um, and that's, that's kind of just normally a business practice that we've kind of stayed. You know, we don't. We don't, just, like you say at a bar, you don't argue sports, politics and Right.

Curt:

And religion. Is there some of your staff that's gonna be surprised when they hear this conversation and

Ty:

No. Not necessarily. Yeah. Um, our stances are clear, but, but we, we were doing exactly what was asked of us by Laer County Health. Yeah. And we were following all the guidelines and the second they would stop it, we would stop it. Right. And the second they would mandate it, we would mandate it. You know, we're too big to push to as backwards, You

Curt:

couldn't sneak under the radar.

Ty:

Yeah. And, and too big to sneak under the radar. Too big to, to push back, you know, have our guests maybe offended by that half of them may be poor. Right. So it's like, which half do we wanna attract? How about we just do what we're being told to do? And I mean, anytime someone says You shouldn't be doing this, it's like our hands are tied. Yeah. You know, we're just trying, we're just trying to operate. We're doing our best. We're just trying to stay open. Right. So like, Help. Help me. Help you. Yeah. Like let us, we're gonna do what, what they ask of us so that we can stay open and operate. Yeah. And keep everyone employed. That's fair enough. All we're trying to do,

Curt:

Do you know, um, what local Think Tank does

Ty:

not fully? I'd love a little pitch. I'll give,

Curt:

I'll give you a little more. We're, uh, we're gonna start another chapter here soon that could use somebody like you. Cool. But I'll leave that for another time cuz these guys have all heard me tell that before. Um, any last words? Oh, how do people find you? Or you wanna give the, like the websites for all the various foodies and eateries and prohibition aircraft, cocktail lounges. Yeah.

Ty:

Um, okay. What are we even on? Social and Instagram are, are main things. Is

Curt:

it just social? Not the social. It's just social. It's just social.

Ty:

Yeah. Social. Fort Collins. A lot of people call it the, a lot of people call Union The union also. Yeah. Um, yeah. Union Fort Collins. Social Fort Collins. I think Melting Pot is FC Melting Pot and FC Redio Grill. I think you're the one that,

Curt:

that easy one. Rudi Grill's also a franchise. Yep. Is it related to the Melting Pot franchise?

Ty:

No, but it's a, it's a cool story. Um, so Ryan was the very first franchisee for Rusio? Yeah. Oh really? So there were two, There was Denver one and there was Salt Lake. Okay. And those are owned by Ivan Who, who started Rodicio. Oh. So he was the original guy and Ryan's calling me right now, Here's a burning. Um, and so he actually approached them. Oh really? If they've have never thought of, Hey, loved your concept. Yeah. And so, uh, they said, Yeah. So you kind of taught 'em how he opened this one, realized that there's no cannibalization between the two, Right. Um, being so close Yep. And decided to, uh, ask Ivan like, You wanna open more? Yeah. And he was like, Cause I got a bunch of melting pug guys who are waiting for a new concept. Um, with that of course is a little side deal. Right. Um, like kick me back a little if I, if it's a melting pot person. Right, right. And he's now, I think there's 28 of them. Oh, that's so cool. So now that are all by melting pot owner people. Oh, that's so cool. So there's no direct connection to him, but. uh, the owners oftentimes are for DIO owners and multiple owners as well. Yeah, Yeah. Oh, that's so cool. So yeah, it's, it was a pretty, pretty cool move. Do you know

Curt:

the, uh, the Chibo people at all? No. I got some connections for you there cuz they've been franchisors for forever. Right. And I, frankly, I could see social or union becoming a potentially franchisable concept. Yeah, there's,

Ty:

we've talked about it

Curt:

so, um, and I got nothing else. Yeah, no, I appreciate it's, but a fun conversation. Yeah. Thanks Ty. See you next time. Deal.