“It just happens sometimes that someone knocks on your door and says, Hey, we think you’re great. Are you interested in another location?'” says TAPS owner Joe Manzella about the Corona location of TAPS Fish House & Brewery. Of course hard work and continual problem solving go into the success of their first, second and third restaurants.
Manzella warns, “Get ready to get spread out and be turned upside down.” He found opening the second restaurant to be quite difficult, and the original location often suffers. He recommends “Having a staff that can stand on their own when everyone turns their attention to the new location.”
An eclectic mix of fresh seafood, steaks and house-brewed beers characterize the menu at TAPS Fish House & Brewery with locations in Brea and Corona. Manzella opened in Brea first in 1999, followed by The Catch in Anaheim which was purchased in 2000 and reopened in 2002. Regarding the menus Manzella says, “They are similar but have their own unique demands. What people in Brea will eat does not necessarily translate to Corona. We’ve learned over time toread guests and give them what they want.”
As an active business on Facebook, guests are able to provide feedback and participate by naming dishes, giving brunch suggestions and offering recipes. “We give them gift cards as rewards,” Manzella says, “It’s a lot of fun to interact with the people who are responsible for your livelihood.”
Manzella learned other lessons with each opening, “We paid attention to design features that caused problems with the first location, especially the service stations. You’ve got to give your service staff the ability to be successful. We also changed small things behind our bars to help the bartenders with glass washing.”
Brea was forced to open without a parking lot as the development was not fully completed. “We had to have 100% valet service parking BMWs and Lexuses on dirt,” he shares, “and then it rained in October through December and guests were just floored at how muddy their cars were. We just apologized and handed them a business card to call the city of Brea and ask where the parking lot was.”
Manzella offers one final tip: “Get organized and systematized or else lose your mind and your bank account. This business just gets more and more challenging every year, especially in California.”
TAPS and The Catch are part of our series highlighting restaurant groups and chains founded and flourishing in Orange County that were featured in the May|June 2013 print issue of Great Taste Magazine. Click here for the entire article.