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Going Back to School for a Really Good Beer

Episode 73

063022-podcast-farm ale brewing

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Farm Ale Brewing Co. stays true to the history of its old schoolhouse, while brewing exceptionally good beer. Listen in to hear how brewmaster Chris and the Farm Ale team are keeping things small and local to ensure they’re using the highest quality ingredients while supporting other local businesses in the area, and why they hire employees for their potential, not necessarily their experience.

On the Yelp Blog: Read more about the brewpub’s hiring practices and how those efforts even resulted in the creation of a special gateway IPA.

EMILY: I’m Emily Washcovick, Yelp’s Small Business Expert. Every episode I pick one review on Yelp and talk to the entrepreneur and the reviewer about the story and business lessons behind their interactions. This week we’re bringing our reviewer and business team together for a chat and learning about Farm Ale Brewing in Eola, Texas. Let’s give our conversation a listen.

JOSH: As somebody who does food and travel blogging with wine, beer, and food as the primary features, I’m always looking for the unique, novel, new, and just different types of things within that domain. And that’s basically what I found when I saw my first advertisement for Farm Ale Brewing—that it’s very different. It’s not being done like any other brewery or ale house that I’ve been to. Not only where it’s at, but just the very deep historical nature of the location. And it’s not just about going to have good beer. There’s so much else around it that made it a really unique story and experience for me to go and do a blog feature on.

And I mean, we’re talking from again, the place that’s in Eola. The schoolhouse that it used to be, the history that has, the upgrades that they’re doing on it now, what it’s being repurposed for as a beer-making facility, the tours that you can get with Chris himself, the food that they have in their old classrooms—the whole thing is just a very unique, one-of-a-kind experience.

And that was something that I was able to just go to town with as a story because that’s something that’s hard to capture anywhere else as a self-proclaimed, non-beer drinker. It’s really awesome. When I can actually find a couple of beers that I can not only say, ‘Oh, it’s okay, but it’s actually really good. I would come back for this again.’ And, you know, I think you guys right now in total have five beers that I’ve tried with the new premium beer, the Amber. But your Windmill Punch and the Big Prick IPA are two beers I truly enjoy. So I not only get to go and enjoy a couple of beers—and I’d rather have it that way, like they have at FAB, Farm Ale Brewing—four or five beers that I can count on versus 20 taps with only two that I like. It’s just, it doesn’t do any good to have all those other ones. I’d rather have a few consistent ones that are  very good.

And the tours of how the beer is made, what the rooms used to be, what they were for. That’s just, it’s awesome, and in so many different ways beyond beer itself. It makes for a very cool experience that you tell people about. And they’re like, ‘Oh really? They have that? That’s in Eola?’ And then they want to go and experience it too. So it’s kept me coming back, I think four or five times now with their different concerts that they put on. And the food is not just, you know, like bar food. It’s very, very good food that chef Matt is putting out there. It’s just a really cool experience. And that’s what keeps coming to me coming back out there: the people, the place, the history, and the beer.

EMILY: It sounds like such a cool place. Could you give me some physical description, too, Josh? Walk me through visually what I would see when I arrive and then come in to experience the business and try a beer.

JOSH: Yes, so when you get there, it’s got this immediately old-school, rustic feel to it. It’s not like a modern school building. It definitely has kind of a hybrid, almost farm tavern—a rustic school type feeling to it—which is really kind of unique because it’s really the only thing that’s in that area.

And then you come in and it’s got a more tavern type feel to it. Then you get the appeal of the old elementary school with the chalkboards, the wooden floors. You walk over into another classroom where the actual dining room is, where you get your beer and place your orders.

Even outside in the patio area, where you can do washers, you can do cornhole, and then they’ve got a big parking area out there, a big old patio with trees. So it’s very inviting just from the get-go because of how open it is inside and outside—a very long hallway that you walk down with doors that leads to, you know, different rooms that again were classrooms.

I believe one of the rooms is about to be an Airbnb, which is really cool. And you can actually stay there as a destination. So that’s coming along, and then you get to the end while there’s the amphitheater. That is now where the brew room is—all of the magic happens, so to speak. And it’s just cool to see these big, you know, hundred gallon tanks where the beer is actually being made in this former amphitheater where plays happen.

And I can’t remember, Chris knows, but there’s a few pretty famous names that have actually walked through there and done plays, which I think is cool to have in our own backyard. And then you go down a little bit further, and you can see where the grain comes in. Chris is really good at explaining how, you know: ‘This is literally what beer comes from when you put it to your lips. This is the grain that it came from.’

And it’s in a way that’s not so complicated that you get lost with it. You actually get it. It’s like, ‘Oh,  that’s where beer comes from the grain.’ So you get to see that room. Then you go down to the gymnasium, which just got its own history by itself. It actually reminds me of my old elementary school back up in Wisconsin—with the redone floor, the ceiling is still original where they do their concerts. And that’s just cool to be in there because you do not see gymnasiums like that anymore. So you’re walking through and it’s like, history is coming alive in this building—all while you’re sipping on a really good beer.

So it’s got this, just a really cool vibe. You can’t find anywhere else there.

EMILY: Thank you for that! I can totally picture it. Chris, the brewmaster, is joining us today. Chris, given everything that Josh just said, how would you describe FAB?

CHRIS: Well, I think he pretty much nailed it right on the head. A lot of what we’re trying to do is not only be a brewery, but we want to bring the school back and kind of restore some of its former glory. Because it was one of the bigger schools in the area way back in the day. At one point, a lot of the area had consolidated into this school, before they ended up consolidated into other schools.

And we still have people coming out here who went to school here because it closed in 1983. I’ve had people who were in second grade when it closed down. And I’ve had people out here who actually graduated from out here, and we can walk them through the building, and they’ll say ‘Oh, this was the science room, this was the home-making room. This was math, this was English.’ We’ve had people offer us letterman’s jackets—which we haven’t received yet, but we hope to—that we can hang up on the wall. We’ve got old pictures of graduating classes from 1938 hanging on the walls in the hallway. And so we’re trying to bring it back to where people can come out and drink a beer in their first grade classroom. Because everybody wants to do that. I mean, we couldn’t be here in our first grade classroom when we were there, but now you can.

EMILY: Josh and I maybe could have in Wisconsin, had we tried hard enough. We might’ve been able to.

CHRIS: So I grew up in Iowa myself, so we’re not too far off. And I actually will bring out a Spotted Cow for Josh every now and then.

EMILY: I love that—I haven’t flown anyone Spotted Cow in a while. But I used to do that all the time.

CHRIS: So my parents still live in Iowa. My brother lives in Minnesota. So they’ll go over to Wisconsin and grab some Spotted Cow every once in a while and bring it down. But it was funny—the first time I had Spotted Cow I swore it was exactly what we make here with the Farm Ale. Being able to compare it side by side, it’s not quite the same. So going into the beer—where Josh was saying, it’s really drinkable. A lot of craft breweries have the stigma around them where they have to go hops, hops, hops. More hops is better. Whereas in my personal opinion, I want to taste the beer. I don’t want to taste the hops.

And so we’ll get a lot of people out here, even with our IPA. They’re telling me they’re not an IPA drinker, but they love our IPA. And people argue that it’s not technically an IPA, but I’m still giving them the flavors, I’m giving them the aromatics, without that kind of kick to the face or the lingering aftertaste. And a lot of people expect that, and so I kind of consider it a gateway IPA or an IPA for people who don’t like IPA.

EMILY: A gateway IPA—I know a lot of people who would appreciate that. Let’s talk a bit about the business history and transformation that you’ve recently made in ownership as well as what you offer.

CHRIS: So the business started in 2006 as a brewery. Like I said earlier, the school closed down in 1983. It went through a few hands in between, and then ended up in the previous owners hands, and he decided to make it a brewery. He ran the place very well for a number of years. And then especially with COVID and all that stuff, the market dried up in this area, and he just wasn’t able to stay in anymore, but he had almost a cult following in this area.

And people would come from 20 miles away just to drink his beer. And my father-in-law actually is the one that brought the canning machine into the plant. So my wife and I were the ones that were doing all the canning here for the previous owner. And then when he decided to sell, the new owner, Jason came up to me. He found out I was retiring from the Air Force after 24 years. He’s like: ‘Hey, I want you to come help us out. I want you to come teach us how to can. I want you to be our ambassador.’ And that kind of morphed into me becoming the brewmaster, even though I had never brewed before. So I’ve only been brewing for one year—never did homebrew, never did anything like that. I’ve learned everything I know here talking to other brewmasters in the area. We just did the first ever Fredericksburg Craft Brew Festival. And I got to meet a bunch of brewers from the larger breweries in Texas. And they’re like: ‘Oh wow, that’s awesome. Who taught you?’ I was like, ‘Well, you know, I ran through it three times and I’ve just kind of figured it out from there.’

So it’s neat, and there’s still—I still have a ton to learn. But it’s neat to see people come in and actually enjoy the beer. The premium that Josh mentioned earlier is actually the first beer that I created on my own. And again, the hops are super, super low. It makes it very drinkable for a large audience.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say, ‘Oh, there’s just too many hops in there for me. We do not get that comment here.’ Not everybody likes the beer, but that’s okay. Not everybody’s gonna like it.

EMILY: And that’s the truth with everything. It’s important to remember that. I want to circle back to this topic of keeping it simple. And like Josh mentioned—not having 30 beers on tap, because I think a lot of places consider that trendy right? Walk me through the FAB approach of doing a few and doing them really well.

CHRIS: We can our own beer here. So we not only make it here, we can it here and then we distribute it out. We did 70 cases just this morning. He was finishing up canning in there with the music on and stuff like that. So I was talking about the number of taps on the wall. We just don’t have the in-town, easy access that a lot of places have, to where you can do a ton of different types of beer. And you’ll actually have the people walking through saying, ‘Oh, hey, I want that.’ So we keep it small. We keep it simple.

And by simple, it’s not just having only a few beers on tap. We keep the recipe simple as well. So I do not use anything artificial in our beers. It’s completely natural. We have the grain, we have the hops, we have the yeast, and we have the rain water that we collect here onsite. We do not bring anything that would give an artificial flavor to.

EMILY: That’s impressive! I want to talk a little bit more about all of the other business elements you essentially have under this roof. What do you guys want to talk about first? Do you want to talk about the live entertainment and the appeal there? Do you want to go down the path of Airbnbs and people being able to bring their campers and trailers? What’s more interesting to you guys to start with?

CHRIS: So really for me, I mean, we are still very much in the development stages of the business itself. So we intend to get 14 full up RV pads out here, like full connection, electricity, water, sewage, all of them. Right now, during this time a year, because it’s just such an old school, we do not have the HVAC systems in place. So the building itself gets very hot, and we’re working on upgrading that and pulling down the building. So we’re not going to do any concerts or any live events out here for at least the summer because it’s San Angelo, Texas—it’s 110 degrees out. You’re not going to get away from it.

And then like Josh mentioned earlier, we have the corn hole boards outside—that, actually, my neighbor built. We have the washer pits. We have the horseshoe pits. We want to put in an old school playground for the kids, which kind of goes hand-in-hand with the gymnasium that we have because a lot of times families come in, the kids all go play in the gymnasium, and the parents sit up here, have a couple beers, have good conversation and don’t have to worry about the kids.

EMILY: That’s awesome. Josh, I’m going to bring it back to you for a second. Talk to me about how you feel as a consumer and a community member when you see a business expanding and bringing all of these other offerings together. How does that make you feel more connected than if you were just able to go there and grab a beer?

JOSH: That’s a good question because that’s part of the appeal that draws me to places as not only like a story feature to tell others about. You know, somebody who curates unique stories and tells them to other people as a reason why you should go. I’m trying to speak like, you know, I went there, I enjoyed this place for X number of reasons. Here’s why you should go too.

And a place like this that is expanding—not only just there in Eola, but to any neighbor. I mean, we’re talking from you know, Ballenger, we’re talking from Big Lake, we’re talking, just anywhere in Tom Green county for that matter. In and of itself, you’re not just, again, going to get a beer. It’s an experience that is more depth and breadth than just beer and because of the different events that they’re doing, because of how they reach out for some of the car shows that they do, the tours that are offered. It’s, you know, family friendly. It’s kid-friendly. The local bands that they bring in for their concerts.

It’s acting as this really nice adhesive for cultural development in people that may be big time beer drinkers and people who aren’t really in it just for the beer. But they want some kind of a  local community outlet that they can go and do things with. At the concerts I’ve gone to, there’s a younger crowd with kids. There’s definitely an older crowd. That’s obviously been in this area for a while, but it’s just got this very hometown feel to it that we have unique to us here. You are probably going to see a lot of the same faces over and over. It’s that appeal, that is you can’t really describe it, but you see it and you feel it when you’re there.

And as this opens up more of the different business domains with the Airbnb, with the RV park that they’re gonna have, with the games outside, there’s so much potential for multiple entertainment, features, and facets at this one location.

To put it in a nutshell: Basically the way I’ve told a few people is I get the feeling this is going to be like The Field of Dreams for a brewery. If you build it, they will come. Where they’re saying, ‘It’s not going to happen, it won’t be that big.’ Suddenly it’s just going to be there, and cars are going to come for miles and miles to see this place as a destination—won’t really know why they’ll just have heard about it and they’re going to come. It’s not going to be next month, maybe not next year, but in the next few years, that will happen here. I have that feeling.

CHRIS: So I’d like to kind of jump on that a little bit. It’s something he said, especially with the car show. So as of right now, we do not charge people to use our venue for different functions. We actually just had a community fish fry happen in the gymnasium a couple of weeks ago.  We’ve done the car show, which we didn’t actually put on. A local car clubs said: ‘Hey, we love your place. We want to bring a bunch of cars out there and just have an event.’ We’ve had local motorcycle clubs come out here to do their meetings out here. And it’s just a place, especially for this community, that they’re not going to get charged an arm and a leg. They want to do something. They have a place to be.

EMILY: And it brings more people to see what you have out there, right? I mean, when Josh was describing to me where you guys are located, like 20 minutes from the base and kind of in this area that isn’t super populated—it made me think exactly Josh’s point. The momentum will continue to grow and build. And when people know they can go there and hang out, it’ll be a spot that they come back to time and time again. But you almost sound like you’re getting ahead of that and trying to spread the word by letting groups use your space and really just letting it speak for itself.

CHRIS: So in addition, we’ve actually had a group in town of graduates from Eola that actually get together every couple of years, and they asked if maybe here the next meeting they did, they could do it out here or the next reunion basically. And they asked how much we would charge them. And we were like, ‘You guys are not going to get charged anything.’

And on top of that, we actually have, there’s a couple that are very big with the business here. They’re not actually employees, but they will be getting married out here this fall.

EMILY: That’s so exciting! Let’s transition and talk about the food a little bit because that definitely sets you apart. Most breweries I’ve been to don’t have food, or if they do, it’s normally something like a food truck outside or delivery from a restaurant nearby. Talk to me about the food you serve and how you decided to have that be a part of the experience.

CHRIS: So there has been food out here almost ever since the previous owner had the place. There were pizzas, burgers, at one point he had chicken strips and brisket and stuff like that. It kind of dwindled as the business itself dwindled. And then when Jason bought the place, he is also the owner of Hye Market in Hye, Texas, in between Fredericksburg and Johnson City.  They have basically a bistro there and their chef Matt Church is very, very good, self-taught, but very good at coming up with new and novel ideas for food.

And he looked at Jason and said, ‘Out there, I want to do what I call my fat boy menu.’ So we have our loaded fries, we have our loaded nachos, we got fish and chips. So kind of what you would think of as pub food almost, but on top of that, we have steak. We have meatloaf of all things. And it isn’t just a normal meatloaf. Actually, I don’t like meatloaf. This stuff is phenomenal. So they smoke their own bacon, they melt jack cheese in there—I mean, there’s chunks of cheese inside that meatloaf. We do a smash burger using our salt, pepper, and garlic mix. it’s just all around really good, really, natural food.

And we actually do here what we call source verification. So we know exactly where that beef came from. We don’t go to Sam’s and get it. There’s a little place in Marfa, Texas, called Marfa Meats that we get all of our meat from, whether it’s the hamburger, the steaks, the pork chops, and stuff like that. And we can trace back every ingredient that we use, not only in our beer, but in our food to where it came from.

EMILY: Wow – that’s really impressive. Can you talk a little bit about why that’s important to the owner and the trickle down effect of sourcing local?

CHRIS: Yeah, absolutely. That is a huge priority of his, because in his kind of the way he’s grown up in the business world. He wants to not only make his own business successful, but he wants to make the smaller businesses around his area successful too. So we use as much from this area as we can. We try to either—if it’s not from a farm, we have our own garden here that we will pull through from and cook it in the restaurant and then he will use whatever he can from the local area. And now bear in mind, the local area for USDA is 500. So it’s a pretty big area, but that gives us the ability to go out and find those places that are up to the level that we want our source to be and to have the best food that we can.

EMILY: That’s so great. Josh can you share from the consumer perspective how this impacts you?

JOSH: I would say, other than echoing what Chris said. is that the quality of what they have is definitely second to none. It’s not just good food for a bar. It’s just dang good food, period, regardless of where you’re at. Whether it’s the meatloaf, it’s the fried fish that they have, whether it’s a good smashburger. Their fries are great. Their nachos are insane.

And I think by going with that, they’re definitely more on the hyper-local side, keeping it as close as possible. Tou’re tasting what’s available in the area. You’re actually getting a taste of what’s right there, not from really far away—not that that’s a bad thing cause you still want to get quality, but yeah.

Even their menu itself, it’s written on a chalkboard, and it’s usually six, seven items long, which tells me we’re going to do six or seven things really dang good every time and not worry about trying to please everybody with everything. We’re just going to do a few items very good every time. And that’s how it’s been.

I think I even did a porkchop one time that was outstanding. And you wouldn’t expect to come to  a brewery and have something that might rank in your top three for a particular dish, and the prices aren’t, you know, absurd by any means either. So that collection of price, value, quality—small, quality menu, consistent ingredients from the local area that stands out by itself to that. No detail is left untouched. ‘Let’s make great beer in a good venue, but then have average food.’ That does not seem to be the case. Everything is well above average. Everything is impressive.

EMILY: We’re going to take a quick break. But when we come back we’ll hear from Chris on how his passion for the brewery shines through and translates to the consumer experience, especially when they’re visiting the brewery for the first time.

EMILY: And we’re back! When Josh and I first started chatting about FAB and featuring them on the show, something that really stood out in his experience was the relationship he’s been able to form with you, Chris. He even mentioned how well you walk customers through the brewing experience, and as someone that grew up in the Midwest, I know that not every brewery tour is interesting and exciting. Sometimes the tour aspect can really drag down the mood, if I’m honest. It sounds like it’s quite the opposite at Farm Ale. Talk to me about that and how you connect with customers and deepen their understanding of the business.

CHRIS: So one of the things—and I don’t want to talk bad about the previous owner—but one of the things I heard from a lot of people that came out here was that somebody who graduated from the school would come out and say, ‘Hey, I went to the school. Can I take a look around?’ And he’s like, ‘No, what do you think this is, a museum?’

And in my mind, it absolutely is a museum. I mean, there is so much history here, so much heritage here that it’s absolutely ridiculous. So when I finally got the chance to actually work out here, I actually started studying the history of the school. I found the write-up that the national historic society did. I read it. And I mean, Josh mentioned earlier about somebody maybe having played out here that was famous. According to  the historic society, there are stories that Gene Autry played on the stage out here. There are stories, and of course, I haven’t been able to verify any of these, but there are stories that Roy Rogers did a performance out in the parking lot.

And I’ve been able to find a few things that a lot of people don’t know about that are not a lot bigger. Like in 1945, I don’t know the source, but the building caught on fire. All the kids were evacuated out on the other side of the football field and all the town folk came and fought the fire. The only part of the school that was not damaged was the gymnasium itself. So, I mean, the building had to be rebuilt in 1945, and you get to think the first part of this building was built in 1929. The second half of the building was built in 1938, along with the gymnasium. And then now they consider it a 1945 building attached to a 1938 gymnasium.

Not every classroom was the same, but like right now we’re sitting in what was the first and second grade classroom. Across the hall was the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. And then it kind of went down the hallway, it broke out into different subjects. So, and I love talking to people that went here and that’s one of the things I do, like the tour that Josh got.

If I’m giving that tour, I’m not just telling people, ‘This is how we make beer, and this is what our equipment is.’ I’m telling them the story of the school, because the school itself is what’s really important. It’s not just the business itself, but that’s part of the Texas FAB experience is everything. It’s an all around experience.

EMILY: I love the integration of beer-making and the history of the building. I also think it’s absolutely fascinating that you’re a self-taught brewer. Josh told me you were in the military? Thank you so much for your service. Can you talk a bit about your experience before working at Farm Ale and how it translates over. I also know Eola is also near a base, so if that creates any connections I’d love to hear about that too.

CHRIS: As far as bringing my previous experience, it’s really the work ethic that the military instilled. I find it very hard to say no to something if there’s any possibility that I might be able to do it. I love a challenge and that’s really where it came from. When Jason approached me, asking me to be the brewmaster, I looked at him, I said, ‘Jason, I’ve never brewed before.’ He’s like, ‘I’m not worried about it. You’ll learn.’ I was like, ‘All right, let’s go!’ Cause, I mean, you can’t grow if you don’t try something outside of your comfort zone. And that’s really something that was instilled in me by the military, throughout all the challenges that they threw at me over the 24 years that I was in.

And just being able to kind of almost identify the military members that come out here. They don’t normally announce the fact that they’re in the military. But just by their mannerisms and some of the things that they say, I can tell. And I’ll look at ’em and ‘Go, what’s your job in the military?’ And they’ll try to kind of—because you got to remember Goodfellows is not only a firefighting training base, it’s also intelligence.

So when you get into the intelligence side of it there, they don’t like to talk about the fact that they’re in intelligence. I can tell them, ‘You know, I got you. I did that for 24 years.’ So I was an airborne cryptologic linguist. The Military Air Force taught me Russian. I’ve flown an RC 135 for many, many years and absolutely loved it.

That’s about the only thing I can really say that I truly miss is the flying aspect because of the closeness that the crews develop when they’re flying for 16 to 20 hours, all in one flight, taking off from one place and landing back at that exact same place. And that’s something that I try to bring into the brewery here, is I try to make it that crew again.

And I know as one of the leaders here at the brewery, that my attitude and my work ethic is kind of going to bleed over into the other people that I work with. Our bartender is 19 years old. She does not have a whole lot of experience in life, but just watching her grow and blossom, not only as a person, but as someone who can talk about the different aspects of the business is absolutely amazing.

EMILY: That’s really cool. And actually lets stay with that concept of team. Talk to me about the team of employees at FAB. I know you’re still small and in the early days, but what does that team look like and how do you ensure everyone creates that experience and welcoming attitude?

CHRIS: Well, so right now in the brewery itself—and granted Jason’s business has a lot of employees that are outside of the brewery—we have four employees. That’s all we have. We have myself; we have Jayden, who is our bartender/hostess, anything and everything you might need out here—I mentioned, she’s 19. She has grown so much. We have Hannah, who is our Army veteran, who is not necessarily a chef at this point, but she’s a cook and she’s developing into a chef. She does have some cooking background, but we’re taking those skills and developing them from where she would go to what we would normally consider a line cook into a sous chef into an executive chef as the business continues to grow.

And then really the beating heart of the place is a guy named Jerry Clark. He is the maintenance guy here. He does live out here on the on-site. But anywhere you go on the property, you can see something that Jerry has renovated. 99% of the renovations out here have been done by him, maybe with help from somebody else. And he’s the one that is keeping the building standing and keeping the building running. Not only that, his daughter is married to my son, and they have our grandson, so we are literally family.

EMILY: Wow! That’s so cool. And Josh, talk to me about how this small team curates and impacts the experiences you’ve had at the business.

JOSH: I mean, Chris is probably the one that I’ve engaged with the most since day one and getting the tour multiple times now. But it’s something that’s a shared characteristic of all the employees where you can tell you are welcomed when you walk in and they’re happy to have you back. They’re ready to see what you’re up to, how you’ve been, what they’re doing, what’s coming up. I mean, it’s really like just coming back into the school house and you just pick up where you left off. You know, it’s that welcoming, friendly feeling where you feel like you belong there, you’re one of the group or one of the crowd that’s got something special there.

They’re all in their own unique ways doing that. You know, it’s a handshake, a pat on the back, just asking you how things are. ‘How’s your son? Where’s the wife?’ type thing. That goes a long way in such subtlety, but it goes a long way to making you want to return again.

EMILY: Creating relationships with your customers is a great way to deepen their connection to the business. And something I’m noticing is you guys seem to take a chance on people and hire them more for their potential or personality than years of a skillset. Can you speak to that briefly and how that may benefit the business?

CHRIS: Well, so it’s always been my opinion that if you are always only looking for the right person, you’re going to pass up a lot of people who could be that right person in the future. There are so many people that are overlooked in this world, and again, it kind of goes back to the military. I developed so many people into who they are today. And I might look back at it as like, ‘Oh, I hope I didn’t screw them up too bad.’ But I can see that they’re doing really, really well.

And that’s what I love here is we take people who might not have been given a chance somewhere else. We give them that chance. We let them blossom into the people who they can be rather than the person that they are right now.

EMILY: Such a great point and perspective that I’m sure a lot of business owners can learn from, particularly now when there’s such a shortage of employees.

In these final minutes, I’d love to talk about reviews. Josh, I want to start with you. When we discussed featuring Farm Ale, you mentioned to me that it’s evolved and was actually bought and changed in many ways. Could you speak to what motivates you to review, as well as your thoughts on a business that’s working to evolve or change their online presence?

JOSH: Yeah, absolutely. In my opinion, they’ve done a really good job of taking the best parts of what was there when it was Eola Schoolhouse, built upon that foundation, and then not trying to reinvent or let’s try to make it exactly what it was. Let’s make it a little, something different, amplify it from what it was and make it better than it ever has been.

Now it’s Farm Ale brewing. Let’s make sure people understand what our mission and our values are, what the purpose is. I like that evolution in that small transformation—keeping those roots, you know, with the school’s history and that kind of thing. But then even like the structural aspects, you know, they’re making it bigger, better, and newer than it was before—repurposing the spaces, not trying to just completely build from scratch, but keep what’s there about historic nostalgia and amplify that, you know, be proud of that aspect.

On the social media aspect, obviously given where they’re at, you know, geographically, not everyone’s going to be driving by it to see it, for sure, but through social media, a lot of people can find out about it. And as we know that stuff can get shared very quickly when somebody has a favorable opinion, experience, or visit. And again, it goes back to why I blog. I want to find these places, share that, and let people find out about them. And hopefully have the same experience that I had.

EMILY: Yea, I love that. And actually for this final thought I think I want to bring in Callie, the marketing director. Thanks for hanging out with us today for this chat. Could you just share a bit of what you’ve been going through as you work to get the digital presence updated and consistent across all platforms? I think what you’re going through is very relatable and can hopefully help some other folks who are going through the same thing.

CALLIE: Yeah. So from a marketing perspective, taking over what was existing and turning it into a new rebranded company, we are still actively trying to take ownership of what was there online.

There are still three active social media pages up. Apple Maps has a hard time recognizing us as a business. And then of course these reviews as well. Even with Yelp and TripAdvisor, we’ve had to go in and upload legal documents to make sure that these platforms know that we’re credible business and that Eola School is no longer active.

And so we’re still having to fight that currently, with cease and desist. And so for example, Farm Ale Brewing company, people can’t check in just yet. This is not a recognized business. It’s still attached to the Eola School. So we’re trying to get that old name taken down. And so it’s causing confusion with Maps and people not knowing where to check in. We try to be very, very,  clear, concise, and our social media, which is our most active presence of how people can find us and what they need to do.

And we have a website up, but our website is under construction. So it’s going to be a minute before we get that where we want it to be. So everything’s a work in progress. And as a team collectively review, you know, we have each other’s backs and we’re constantly looking out for these types of things, but that has caused some issues in getting our recognition and brand out there and online and reviews and whatnot, transitioned over to formula, and keeping it super community-based and a support network for each other.

That also goes into what we’re trying to do with these partnerships as well. And so our social media and our website and what we’re doing—we want it to be omni-channel. It’s the overall experience of Texas FAB, starting from, you know, our social media, our online footprint to when you get here and you get to experience it in.

EMILY: And that concludes our episode! Be sure to subscribe so you get new episodes every Thursday. I hope you enjoyed it and were able to take a thing or two away to implement in your own life. Whether it’s a new idea that you can bring back to your business, or a fresh perspective on how to be a positive influence as a consumer, we share these stores to inspire and create more meaningful connections in your local community. For more information about today’s business, or to connect with me check out the show notes!

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