Burgers and Business: The Recipe behind Flipdaddy’s’ Success
Photography by Wes Battoclette and Brian Ambs
Check out the gallery after the story!
Flipdaddy’s Brilliant Burgers & Craft Beer Bar is on a roll, led by co-owners Bob Dames and Ed Biery.
Operating with a fluid and natural synergy, they bring an undeniable zest to their work. The combination of these elements has come to define the Flipdaddy’s brand. Known for the exceptional quality of their product, the proactivity of their customer service and the accessible charm of their dining experience, the restaurant has earned a dedicated and enthusiastic fan base.
Now, having successfully opened its third location in Union, Ky. in 2014, Flipdaddy’s is stepping fully into its stride. Equipped with ardent customer support, as well as an energetic plan for expansion, the Flipdaddy’s team is poised to spread their passion for quality, locally sourced food across the region and beyond. “Since day one,” says Dames, founder and president, “it’s always been my goal to build a national brand.”
In spring of 2015, Flipdaddy’s Brilliant Burgers and Craft Beer Bar will add to that brand by opening their fourth location in Newport, KY. According to Dames the new location will be “bigger and badder than ever!”
Building with the Community
The new 6,000 square foot location will seat 280 guests. The Newport restaurant is the first Flipdaddy’s to be built from the ground up. “We’ve had to retrofit our other locations,” says Dames. “We are excited to make this location our own and have it be the way we want it to run, look and feel.
“We’re excited about the new location because it draws from so many areas. It is a very central location that will draw people in from downtown Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. The new location is a further evolution of our brand. We hope that this location will be close to a prototype of our brand.”
Throughout the process Flipdaddy’s has worked exclusively with local vendors such as Linked Solutions, FG Schaefer Co., Madison Design and Phoenix Architecture on the construction of the new location. In addition, Flipdaddy’s continues to work with local food and beverage vendors such as Listerman’s Brewing, Mad Tree, GFS, Giminetti Bakery and Brand Populace.
The Newport location will have a large bar area which will feature 72 tap handles. Part of the bar will feature a garage door which can be opened when the weather is nice. When the garage door is open guests will be able to enjoy outdoor bar seating and a fire pit.
In addition, the new location will feature two private rooms, perfect for hosting a business meeting, family celebration or a night out with friends. One of the private rooms will accommodate 40 people and the second will seat 20.
“We’re proud to say that we’ve used local vendors,” says Dames.
Developing a larger platform for their product, however, is only part of the Flipdaddy’s vision. Dames and Biery explain that they are as passionate about how they do business as they are about the business that they do. Dames says they want to do business in a way that “empowers, activates and invites along for the journey a whole community of folks. Everyone from our employees to our local food purveyors to our customers.”
Dames’ and Biery’s ability to intertwine this philosophy into the practical, day-to-day running of their business is one of the many aspects that continue to set the company apart. (Though if you asked any Flipdaddy’s fan, that might come in a distant second to their extraordinary burgers and vast supply of beer.)
The 'Aha' Moment
“It’s a fun story,” says Dames, speaking about the company’s trajectory from a personal dream to a budding empire. “The concept was based on my experience as a traveling salesman,” he explains. “Whenever I went to a hotel, I’d ask the clerk ‘Where can I go for a burger and a beer?’ And after about 8,000 times... it hit me that I should try that.”
After that initial “Aha” moment, Dames launched into a five-year-long process of researching the restaurant market and building the funding for his project. He also set to work developing a menu and, in the process, settled on what has now become Flipdaddy’s largest claim-to-fame: the proprietary blend of beef used for their burgers. Wanting to give his burgers a “little bit of a twist,” Dames selected a combination of brisket, short rib and ground chuck. “We did a lot of research on that,” he smiles, flashing his trademark mellow enthusiasm. “Grilled a LOT of burgers.”
All of that diligence and creativity came to fruition in December 2010, when Flipdaddy’s opened its doors in the village of Mariemont. Impressing customers with its imaginative twists on perhaps the most classic staple of American cuisine— the burger— as well as its extensive beer list (each location has between 24 and 39 beers on tap, the majority of which are regional craft labels), the restaurant was greeted with an overwhelmingly positive response. This stellar performance paved the way for the second site, which was opened in Symmes Township in December 2011. The response was, again, overwhelmingly positive.
By this time, Dames had brought on Biery as co-owner and Chief Operational Officer. Biery, who originally came aboard as a manager to help open the first location, had extensive operational expertise, gained from years of working in upscale restaurants. More important, perhaps, was his driving work ethic, which meshed perfectly with Dames’ own fiery dedication. Dames emphasizes that “[Biery] had a passion for the concept. ...He saw the potential here.”
Biery shrugs, “I’m kind of an ‘all-in’ person. I took the job and was as serious about it as [Dames’] was. We worked hard every day to make it successful. We both had that same passion for it.”
Biery continues, joking with Dames about their friendship and professional relationship. “I’m the yin to his yang,“ Biery laughs. “His focus is on marketing and growing the company. My focus is on operations of the company. We operate differently, but it works really well together.”
Focusing on Freshness
From the outset of their partnership, Dames and Biery funneled their synergy into the business, working tirelessly to not only expand their restaurant’s reach, but refine its operations as well. From the beginning, their approach was a holistic one, focused on improving all aspects of the business at all times. That same strategy continues to propel the company’s evolution. “I don’t think we’ll ever be satisfied,” admits Dames. ”We can never sit back. We’ve got to continue to innovate and improve.”
Their quest to provide food of the utmost freshness has led them to partner heavily with local farmers and artisans. “We’re very proud of using local purveyors as much as possible,” says Dames. He easily rattles off the names of their suppliers as if he’s going through a list of lifelong buddies. “We have Davis Creek Meats as our meat supplier. They’re right here in Walton, Kentucky. Newtown Farm Market does our produce. They’re down on the market every day handpicking our produce. Giminetti bakes our buns. They’re here in town. Fugazzi Cheese is our cheese guy. He’s local.”
The attention to detail and quality that Dames and Biery apply to their ingredients is also reflected in their focus on growing a company culture that’s specifically positive and professional. Dames jokes, “We’re those guys that nobody else likes because we love our jobs.” Biery laughs along with him. “Our days are long,” Dames continues, “but, to me, it doesn’t feel like work. Because this is our dream.”
It’s this sense of joyous investment that is at the heart of the Flipdaddy’s culture and philosophy. “We have an ‘associates first’ atmosphere,” says Biery. “I always tell everybody— from the dishwasher to the manager— that my phone is always on, my door is always open,” he states earnestly. “We feel that if our employees are happy, then our guests are happy. That’s just an obvious thing.”
Biery elaborates further, explaining that all of these efforts— from growing a positive company culture to being proactive about using high quality, fresh ingredients— is all in support of their ultimate goal: giving the customer a great experience. “The guest experience is number one for us. We’re all about the guest,” says Biery. “We understand that, right now, people’s money is more important to them than ever. It’s really important that they’re spending it at a place where they feel they’re getting value for their money. That they’re get- ting good service, good quality.”
For a restaurant with its eyes on nationwide expansion, Flipdaddy’s exacting commitment to freshness might seem to fly in the face of conventional chain-restaurant wisdom. Biery indicates, however, that it’s more than a deliberate choice or a philosophical extension of their mission ... it’s also good business. He notes that many larger corporations do indeed employ a strict “How can we save a buck?” mentality. For Flipdaddy’s, though, Biery declares that freshness and quality are two “of the biggest things that we focus on. That’s something we aren’t willing to compromise on.”
As Biery looks toward the future, anticipating Flip- daddy’s entry into potential new markets, he doesn’t see any quality-compromise on the horizon. “If we go into a market, we’ll find that local bakery. We’ll find that local cheese purveyor who can provide these really great fresh cheeses everyday. We’d love to help those small [busi- nesses] grow with us.”
Flipdaddy’s Brilliant Burgers and Craft Beers Bar – Mariemont is located at 7453 Wooster Pike, Cincinnati, OH 45227. You can reach them at 513.272.BEER.
Flipdaddy’s Brilliant Burgers and Craft Beers Bar – Symmes Township is located at 12071 Mason Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, OH 45249. You can reach them at 513.677.BEER.
Flipdaddy’s Brilliant Burgers and Craft Beers Bar – Union is located at 8863 US Route 42, Union, KY 41091. You can reach them at 859.371.BEER.
Flipdaddy’s Brilliant Burgers and Craft Beers Bar – Newport is located at 165 Pavilion Parkway, Newport, KY 41017.
Visit Flip Daddy’s Brilliant Burgers and Craft Beers Bar’s website at www.flipdaddys.com.