Thursday, March 01, 2012

Tommy Two Scoops

He used to sell carpets. Then he opened a fastish-food place, concentrating on his ice-cream made on the premises. He called it Tommy Two Scoops.

It stuck. On him as well as the business. He doesn’t mind. Tommy is good on marketing, and he knows good marketing happening when he sees it.

He opened a new place last fall. The Brightside Inn is a different place entirely. Not far from the original, but in a slightly more secluded area of Jersey City. Classy, so the Brightside is classy. Though not in any excluding way.

He gutted the original pub to make it the way he wants it. There’s a nice American bar. The usual sports-mad screens, but not as obtrusive as they often are. Music in the background of the restaurant area where you can go if you don’t want to eat in a bar environment.

The menu is good American. The house burger great, and all the other stuff equally so, especially the pastrami sandwich. Nothing is set in stone, so you can have your meals with or without any component and there’s no hassle.

Tommy knows the value of the personal touch. He turned up to say hello in both places at the times we were in each.

He collects people. Digitally. He gets your email, your birthday if you’re not fussed about it. He taps the details into his smartphone, and you know that someday you’ll get a message that might invite you in for a meal with a birthday surprise, or maybe a discount.

In the Brightside, he manages the music with an iPad. A party comes in, like us, with a Mother in Law, and he taps it for the classic 1961 hit of that name to celebrate the event. Or, learning we were Irish, what did we want to hear from home? So we had Christy Moore in the background for the duration of the meal.

Tommy reminds me a lot of my late Dad. He’s a goer. Tries things. Takes a flyer on a whim. Probably has had as many, or more, failures than successes. Failures aren’t the point. Having a go is. If you don’t, you’ll never know. If you don’t you never will. If you do, you might.

Either way, Tommy’s the kind of guy who, once met, you figure as a friend. Like it was with my Dad, Jim Byrne, it’s personal.

Jim Byrne of Kilcullen made himself, and his 'The Hideout' pub and restaurant, an internationally-known brand in the middle of the last century because he made it personal. Like Tommy Two Scoops is doing today in Jersey City.

Tommy’s real name? Doesn’t matter. Tommy Two Scoops works. Many of his customers in the original ice cream parlour are schoolkids from the nearby St Peter’s Prep School. Some of them, maybe even more than that, will eventually, years down, graduate to the Brightside.

In the meantime, their parents are going there. It’s probably called something like vertical marketing. For Tommy, it’s personal.

He has the emails.