After working for 25 years around the world in the restaurant industry, Brandon Moore has returned home to Tyler to open his own business.
He started as a bartender in college and has worked for franchises in Central and South America, the Caribbean, Europe and the Middle East.
About a year ago, Moore, 46, returned to Tyler to serve as director of operations for a local investment group opening Steak ‘n Shake and Scooter’s Coffee franchises on University Boulevard. He also is one of four investors opening a Republic Icehouse in the same development, across the street from The University of Texas at Tyler.
There also will be a Watts Real Estate office and Boba-loompia!, which will offer bubble teas, spring rolls and Filipino takeout, in the retail center.
“This corridor has been underserved for years,” Moore said. He noted that the growth of the university, as well as the Woods subdivision, the nearby lake, New Chapel Hill and several businesses and apartments along University Boulevard will be served by the new businesses.
“Tyler is a great restaurant town,” he added.
Jack Morgan developed the land, which has been under construction for more than a year, and sold the land to the investment groups. There is one additional plot available.
In November 2012, Morgan, a partner in Dallas-based CHM Development, announced his plans for a 7-acre retail center called Patriot Commons.
“We’re very excited about it,” Morgan said. “We think it will service some real needs to that part of the community.”
The Tyler locations will be the first in East Texas for Steak ‘n Shake and Scooter’s.
Steak ‘n Shake was founded in 1934 in Normal, Illinois. Now based in Indianapolis, there are about 520 stores, Moore said.
On Tuesday, employees were being trained at Steak n’ Shake and Moore was waiting for the last bit of equipment and furnishings to be delivered.
Steak ‘n Shake has almost 150 employees and opens today.
Moore said it is a classic brand that has been around for years and offers high-quality steak burgers, milk shakes, salads and sandwiches.
The first drive-thru Scooter’s Coffee shop opened in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1998 and there are now more than 100 locations.
“We really loved Scooter’s concept and the quality of the coffee,” Moore said.
Scooter’s has 15 employees and offers pastries, coffee drinks and smoothies.
Moore said since opening Aug. 8, the response to Scooter’s has been great and two days after opening, they ran out of product and had to get a truck in from Omaha. So far, sales are on pace to make it one of the top stores, if not the top store, in the Scooter’s system, he added.
Moore said they already have plans to open a second Scooter’s and a Steak ‘n Shake next to Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe and Braum’s Ice Cream & Dairy Store on South Broadway Avenue. Dirt work has started and they hope to open the stores within six to eight months, he added.
“They’re totally opposite areas,” Moore said when asked about the second locations opening so quickly after the first stores. “The community over here needed new restaurants … and the traffic counts on South Broadway are incredible.”
Moore said they are looking at the Longview area for additional Steak ‘n Shakes and Scooter’s stores and believe the Tyler market would work for three to four Scooter’s. The investment group has an area development agreement for eight Scooter’s and five Steak ‘n Shakes in a nine-county area in East Texas.
Republic Icehouse will be the first of its kind and is the creation of Moore and three partners. It will be a sports bar and live music venue and with a 9-by-16-foot high-definition projection screen, will offer what Moore believes is the largest television from Dallas to Shreveport. There will also be 18 additional large flat-screen TVs for sports events. On the weekends, there will be live local and regional bands, such as Texas country classic rock, blues and today’s country.
The menu will include thin, crispy-crust pizzas, tacos, burgers, salads and a variety of appetizers. With 40 to 50 employees, they plan to open on Sept. 21.
The 5,200-square-feet building, still under construction, is a blend of brick, stone, concrete and wood and offers an outdoor patio with retractable garage doors. Moore and his partners designed it themselves and handed their ideas off to an architect.
“There has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears going into this thing,” he said.
Moore said they could eventually open additional locations but are focusing on getting the first one right.
Alfred Llave is bringing Boba-loompia! to the center.
One lease space remains available in the developed center.
Moore grew up in Tyler and started bartending while at Texas Tech University and got into restaurant and hotel management. He did international operations for one franchise for six years, worked as director of operations and director of field marketing for Pizza Inn for six years and as director of operations for Papa Murphy’s.
He said he loved the international work when he was younger and especially enjoyed the Caribbean, Brazil and London.
Moore said what he likes most about the industry is starting with zero and building it up to opening the doors to the public and watching them enjoy the “fruits of labor.”
After living mostly out of hotel rooms for the past 20-plus years, he is glad to be back.
“I’m very glad to be home, out of the rat race,” he said.