Brandt Gully Owner of The Springs Cinema & Taphouse on Georgia Business Radio

Brandt Gully Owner of The Springs Cinema & Taphouse on Georgia Business Radio


It’s time once again for another episode
of Georgia Business Radio broadcasting live from the Pro Business Channel
studios in Atlanta and now here’s your host Rich Casanova. Alright we are
locked and loaded for another exciting episode of Georgia Business Radio here
from our brand-new Studios at Serendipity Labs in Buckhead with our
billion-dollar Buckhead view you’ll have to stop by and take a look! We’re on a
podcast so I don’t know if that math really adds up or not. So we’re very excited to hear a new venture and reboot of a business
right the road here on 400 in Sandy Springs Georgia.
I just moved from Sandy Springs to Buckhead recently so very familiar with
that part of the neighborhood and we have Brant Gully in the studio joining
us and he’s the owner of this Springs Cinema and Tap House. So before we get into things you didn’t bring any beverages for us?
Yeah next time next time. Okay yeah we’ll stop by so before we went on
the air we were talking about before you you know talked about the movie business
which he has some background of that but primarily a background has been in the
finance industry yes so I’ve spent my entire career I kind of came about this
a little from a different direction so I started in public accounting so worked
with one of the big CPA firms and worked on one of my clients was one of the big
movie cinema chains then I got into banking and spent the next ten years
lending money to entertainment companies including movie theater chains around
the country lending money to the entertainment interests that can be kind
of a dicey or hidden messer challenges with that right yeah absolutely I mean
it depends on which segment of the industry’s really if you’re lending to
film production which we did some of that that’s definitely spotty and yeah I
have a lot of risk tolerance for that right yeah and and now we’re in what the
second largest in the world are in the US for film and TV production absolutely
right okay so so now talk to us about the theater before you rebooted this and
brought the spring cinema and Tap House into into place it was formerly known in
Sandy Springs as the Lafont theatre right correct what was their claim to
fame er their history yes so the previous owner George the fonts a bit of
a an icon in the Georgia film industry at least he was sort of the arthouse
King one of the top arthouse an independent movie else operators in the
country so he spent a 40-year career you know bringing those types of theaters to
life and and really being a venue that was known for showing not so mainstream
movies but quality films and this was his last one that he had and he you know
it’s an eight Plex and he was doing just that he was showing mostly independent
movies and a bit of a bit of a landmark in the same Springs community like I
said I just lived there for about ten years familiar with the theatre been a
handful of times myself so now how did this come about to say I’m gonna get
into the theater business and and create this new concept yeah it wasn’t exactly
a dream of mine I mean it sounds like a crazy leap to be a conservative
financial guy and then all of a sudden become a proprietor of a movie theater
and bar and restaurant so but it’s like I said I work with for the last 10 years
have had a small investment banking firm working with other movie theater
operators all around the country raising money for them buying and selling for
them and I get to see all the neat innovative concepts that that people are
doing in this space now and that’s a that’s a must in this industry as you
have to find more creative ways to make the experience top-notch for the
customer because there are more more ways to watch movies whether it’s on
your handheld devices or your home theater or
wherever it becomes more about the experience and this this particular
theater is the one that would have gotten it’s the only one that they
really would have gotten me into becoming an operator and I had told my
wife a couple years ago and I know the theater real well from a customer and
also from being friends with the former owner that if this became available to
me then this would be something I’d be really interested in and it just kind of
all all the pieces fell into place and I just saw it as a as a fantastic
opportunity to kind of reformat similar to things I’ve seen around the country
yeah I mean I get the home theater experience I really don’t understand
what people would watch a movie on their cell phone right I mean I’ve never I’ve
never gotten that idea you know maybe at a YouTube video but sit there and watch
it into our movie yeah I mean it’s there are people the younger generations but
it’s it’s there’s just something special about watching it on a large screen
absolutely and it’s it can make a not so good movie good and a good movie great
it’s just an experience that people love to do and when this came across our
table the idea of this this new venture in in our neighborhood I was really
compelled to have this conversation because I remember I went I went to the
first theater of this type I experienced was it at Florida State whenever they
had a mug’s in movie theater never really been done before you just you
pretty much just sat in the theater watch the screen and got your popcorn
left and this was like wow this is like a better experience in a home you have
their food being served it’s entertaining and you get to watch the
movie it’s very experiential right it’s come a long way since then right so so
talk to us about we’ve got a lot of features to talk about that’s part of
the unique piece to this and what do you think people are drawn to the idea of
you know beverages food and combining the movie experience everybody likes to eat everybody likes
to drink and it’s just really combining concepts I mean the one thing time is at
a premium you have people that they have babysitters and they have a date night
so we’re you know they can’t I can’t squeeze it all in so this just makes it
easier and makes it more fun and unique certainly from a business perspective
you know we love to sell food beverages it’s where the margin is in our business
I thought about from the entertainment perspective my experience but I didn’t
think about it of efficiency standpoint you just mentioned right so it’s a a
movie and dinner you know tonight and combine the two and you don’t have to
worry about valet parking and traveling and
different you’re missing the movie start time and yeah just from that standpoint
alone right yeah absolutely and you know it you know we get comments all the time
when there’s a couple they’re watching a movie and maybe it’s a movie that the
husband or wasn’t as excited about he said well you know this cocktail or this
glass of wine I’m really gonna make this movie a little Toggl for me so that’s
true but yeah I mean the the movie industry has changed such that the
cinema industry it’s always been a struggle to how do you combat the being
so reliant on content I mean we can’t control the quality of the movies that
are out there we show the movies that are made you know we can pick and choose
from those but you know we want to make it more insulated from you know being at
the mercy of Hollywood so if it’s a great experience people are more willing
to see whatever I mean we see that all the time okay it used to be that if you
went to see a movie and it sold out you just leave now we see it all the time
where people come then maybe they wanted to see what’s sold out and they’re like
okay now what do you want to see and so it’s again it’s more about the overall
experience than just the film itself you talk about the tap house piece of this
it is that it show you know where’s the line run is there a challenge where
people feel like they’re being disrupted as a viewer you know with the service
and the food and people drinking and eating in
you know how do you control that chaos or is that part of the expectation of
the patron yeah I mean there are a few different camps on this within the
industry where we’re sort of going right in the middle of being a traditional
theatre with traditional food beverage offerings and then there’s kind of full
dining in theatres like there are a few of around town we will not have
waitstaff coming in and disrupting the movie I mean you do have purists right
the customers that they can’t stay in that and then some people they tune it
out yeah and so we’re again gonna be in the middle you’re gonna order your food
and beverages in the lobby when maybe we’ll have our staff run it to run the
food or drinks to you but yeah we want to try to minimize the disruption to the
to the movie experience as much as possible but if you’re completely thrown
off by that then you’re probably at the wrong theater it’s just gonna sit in a
theater that has no food into it right you know okay so you mentioned like the
family experience so uh you have special pricing just for kids as well right we
do yeah I mean we in the Sandy Springs area it’s the demographics are changing
a lot as they are you know a lot of parts of Atlanta it’s getting younger
there’s more families moving in you’re seeing a lot more strollers being pushed
around the sidewalks and we want it to be even though you know we want to cater
to people that are old enough to partake in any of the adult beverages we also
want to be super family-friendly so we’re everything from the content to the
pricing and we certainly you know the last thing I wanted was to come in and
and be the new owner that just gonna raise prices and now I mean we being
very strategic and being you know even though we feel like our product is going
to be stronger than anybody’s around we want the pricing to to be as competitive
and cheaper than anybody around and so yeah we were again very strategic in the
children’s pricing to really you know I love movies as a kid it’s a big part of
a lot of memories I have from childhood going with my dad to see my first movie
of the store and you know we want we don’t want to
price kids now we want kids to love movies and so we made our children’s
pricing really cheaper than anybody around town yeah for the salt for the
holidays I see you have the the dr. Seuss um the Grinch
yeah we’ve had that yeah for the last several weeks and it’s been fantastic
and we have another big sort of rebooted Disney movie that’s coming out as Mary
Poppins returns Oh huge so there’s gonna be something for everybody this holiday
season yeah I saw the whole documentary the back story on that I was fascinating
Dick Van Dyke is is in the his in this reboot yeah a hundred years later
whatever it is right so let’s walk you know we’re a business platform here on
Georgia business radio again rich Casanova here along with Brant Kelly
he’s the owner and creator the the man behind this new concept being brought to
Atlanta in Sandy Springs called the Springs cinema and Tap House so talk to
us about for the business model perspective so what did did you
you got the theater how much did you kind of keep as far as the floor plan
and so forth and what was involved in terms of the investment or where did you
put your your dollars without getting into the you know the exact numbers but
what did you see as a priority what did you have to kind of reboot within the
framework of the theater yeah I mean to really sum it up were pretty much
gutting and redoing everything so we you know I knew again being a financial guy
I did way more than my homework on putting together a number of iterations
of business models and projections and you know determining what kind of
capital I was going to have access to and what it was going to cost you know
have the benefit of working for you know having worked with and being friends
with CEOs of other cinema chains all across the country I’m relying heavily
on them since I’ve never done this right yeah you know in large respects I don’t
know what I’m doing but I’ve you know had access to a lot of resources so I
knew from day one that it was going to be heavy renovations and that was going
to be really taking out and replacing everything I started with the
auditoriums auditoriums and restrooms feel like are the two most important
things in a cinema auditoriums because that’s that’s the experience what people
are paying for and the rep you kept the eight screen footprint
yeah we’re keeping the the bones and that’s about it but yeah eight screens
is is plenty these days and with the way we can kind of move shuffle movies
around more so than the old days but yes we kept the same footprint and the first
phase was gutting each of the auditoriums and putting everything new
in there that’s from floors to walls to news sound system new bigger brighter
screen new lights and you know the kind of the biggest change was adding the
chairs it seems fairly insignificant but it’s not today that’s it’s a big perk
and that was adding luxury connors no I saw them on the website saw the video
and it’s um I mean you can’t get you have to kind of see the visual but full
recline and and the what we’re talking about for a minute on the air you added
the element of heated seats because that’s one of the things you know people
bring they don’t know Eric theaters are many times the air conditioning is so
low you know and it’s nice to have that experience especially during the summer
but people are bringing in sweaters and jackets and that’s a unique kind of have
the heated seats right yeah it was a little bit of a little bit of a gamble
in thinking of that I mean there’s no other Theatre in the state of Georgia
that has heated seats and I have a friend that’s CEO of a movie theater
chain based out of Chicago and he he flew down and checked out my site just
as a friend to make sure I wasn’t crazy right and you know it was a great
opportunity he told me one of the things I want to see you do is put in heated
seats and he had just done it in Chicago and well there’s a you know it’s cold in
Chicago it’s not Atlanta it just trust me and he said just think about it and
so I did and you know started noticing more and more people carrying sweaters
and blankets into auditoriums you know to his point an auditorium in Chicago is
the same temperature inside as one in Atlanta and
you know really the the play there was it was really as much for marketing as
it was anything is that people would talk about it and that’s what I needed
some sort of a hook to my place and you know people can’t go say well that’s the
place with the reclining seats because a lot of competitors have that but we are
the only ones with heated seats and we get that comment over and over and over
again you know in our reviews and word-of-mouth that’s gotten around in
the community and we’ve been our performance has been up just an
attendance has been up 50% he just sits putting in those chairs
yeah so that was that was phase one and then of course gutting and redoing the
restrooms and making those nice into the air-conditioning system well that was
you know that was a major investor bought the place that didn’t have
functioning aircon so that was not a fine expense but that was part of the
business model nonetheless and then the next phase was once we got through the
summer was more of the fun part and that’s redoing the lobby and adding a
full bar and a kitchen so we should be completing that in the next two weeks
and have that ready for Christmas and it’s you know there’s more to it there
was you know changing the facade taking out you know the box office ticket
window changing every finish inside the place adding a lot more technology and
other technology what do you mean by that like the checkout process you want
to make things as efficient as possible so you know we’ll be adding six you know
ticket kiosks place you know the the trend has become is to add reserved
seating which we did yes all that on the nose yeah yeah so all which just allows
people to you know make their decisions ahead of time buy their tickets online
if they choose they can come by the theater and reserve them as well but it
just it people people love that now they just holding a ticket or is it are they
holding they’re actually two picks in there see your actual see yeah yeah
that’s cool yeah because people people are funny about that like I go in
relatives some people like to sit near the front
or on the aisle or right in the middle I’m gonna be you know twelve o’clock
straight ahead and I get family that wants to sit in the very back row
you know anybody around him you know that’s just yeah I mean we certainly
have some customers that that don’t like the process more so just because it’s
major step sir yeah maybe they don’t an older generation that doesn’t embrace
technology as much and just prefers to walk in and they can do that they can do
that you still have to pick a seat and sit in that for the most part people
love it it is it just allows people to reserve their seats ahead of time and
not have to show up 3045 minutes early so that all the you know the technology
includes you know primarily ease of picking up tickets and buying tickets
inside the theater so we’ll be finished with this and its entirety in the next
couple of weeks and you asked cost wise I mean yeah it’s a it’s a two and a half
million dollar renovation Wow but but what’s unique about your
background is not only being in the finance and the money business but you
spent a lot of time that’s just in the film but in the industry of movie
theaters so I mean I think it’s going to be a home run hit okay so in our next
segment we’re gonna pivot here in just a second talk about we’ve talked about the
theater X you know the theater itself and the experience and so forth maybe
kind of we might touch on some of the films where people expect but also we
want to talk about now the food and beverage piece right the the bar the
back you know back end and so forth and again you’re listening to Georgia
business radio with rich Casanova here your host along with Brant gully he’s
the owner of the Sandy in Sandy Springs the Springs cinema and Tap House so
let’s talk about the the tap house piece so what type of food are we talking here
what type of beverages have you aligned with some partners that we might know in
the market here and what’s you know what some you know you anticipate you kind of
claim to fame or what’s gonna make unique or why would people draw people
be drawn from the food and beverage perspective
yeah you know I’ll start by saying I don’t expect our kitchen to win any
award that’s not really the goal in here it’s you know as mentioned earlier
there’s some efficiency to be had and eating while you’re in a theater and
especially as movies have gotten significantly longer you get a three
hour movie it’s you know through dinner time you want something and it’s you
know it may not be for everybody but you know even before we added a kitchen we
sold a lot of hot dogs great hot dogs and we sold a lot of bag nachos so bag
nachos which is which can which can you can get it pretty much any movie theater
around the country so you know now we’re yeah we’re gonna have pizzas
we’ll have sliders and burgers we’ll have chicken tenders fries you know
paninis quesadillas pretzel bites things like that stuff that’s I did here
popcorn though popcorn you better yeah corn of candy and soft drinks are always
gonna be items but you know there are folks that don’t want to eat a meal and
these are food items that are you know there’s a couple of things you have to
look at you can in talking to a bunch of other theater operators you can make the
menus extensive and as fancy as you want it’s still those same five or six items
that just listed that that you know it’s about 90% of everybody’s sales but they
need to be easy to make they need to be quick to make and they just as
importantly they need to be easy to eat you big time yeah you’re sitting in the
dark right here trying to watch you know a screen in front of you
instead of looking down at your food so you you know that’s silly as that might
sound it needs to you know we’ve specifically chosen things that are kind
of finger tight yeah what doesn’t cut the list doesn’t make the list I should
say yeah well we’ve ribs whatever a lot of folks do wings yeah so messy yeah I
mean I just spent $700 on each chair I put in there the last thing I want is
somebody you know hauling their wings and then you know getting barbecue sauce
all over my seat controls so yeah I mean really where we drew the line was not
having to use a fork a knife okay at least to start I mean you know we’re not
at this point doing salads or fish or you know things you have to cut yeah you
don’t want people cutting through their steak and then cutting through the
furniture at the same time going in there yeah yeah and you want to be
respectful of the people sitting around making a bunch of noise I mean I’ve you
know as much as I love the actual dining in cinema concept you also you just
don’t want it disrupting your movie I mean I remember going to a movie last
year and the person next to me ordered fish and I’m sure it was fantastic but I
had to smell their plate of fish the entire two-and-a-half-hour movie and
every minute of that movie I thought about I don’t like the smell of that
fish so that was distracting so we you know again we’re trying to offer our
food almost as a service the the part we’re most excited about though is is
the bar that’s yeah talk to us about that like are we talking what range of
beverages here yeah it’s a full bar I mean we are you know we’ve we’ve had
beer and wine the Lafont had beer in wine but we were a concession stand that
happened to have beer wine we’re for the most part gonna be a bar that happens to
have concessions and food so talking bourbon and yeah we’re talking all of it
so we’ll have you know a wide range of you know with an emphasis on local and
craft beers we’re gonna be working with a lot of the local breweries to feature
their drinks and do events with them we’ll have craft cocktails and all the
staple liqueurs we will have a you know pretty wide-ranging
selection of wines we’ll have frozen you know liquor beverage like this will do
you know we’ll try to run different drink specials that are movie themed
yeah I mean you know again we plan to do a lot more than just show movies we want
to do corporate events next question so uh I know this is the new venture and
you just when did you actually open the doors how
long has this been so I bought it in November of 2017
no it’s been just a little over a year now but when would when did that’s when
you open the doors yeah the doors have stayed open oh that’s right away from
doing the renovations along the way and but now it’s kind of a full force this
holiday season right most of all the parts and pieces will be completed and
up to speed we will be the goals you know and stay on my contractors every
day the goal is to be 100% done before Christmas nice and I was I had written
down that note about corporate events so are you anticipating people would rent
out for special events that’s an option yeah I mean we get a decent amount of
business with that already without trying okay and it’s it’s gonna be a
huge emphasis and we’ve even designed the building and the product offerings
to really lend itself to that so you know Sandy Springs you know in itself is
home to a lot of large corporations and a lot of big business and I took people
are always looking for venues to host you know quarterly sales meetings or
annual sales events annual holiday parties or customer appreciation of this
you know we have we have you know several real estate and you know Wealth
Management clients then it will you know rent out an auditorium on a Saturday
morning and invite a lot of their customers and their kids to come see a
movie like the Grinch that’s cool you know we do events with local schools and
really want to put a huge emphasis on local charities that are important and
important to me and be able to host events there so yeah and we also another
big piece of our model that has already you know started working out is you know
Atlantis up is is is big business and film and television production and so
we’re working you know closely with some of the production companies to to be a
preferred venue where they can screen their independent story but screen
movies host cast parties a television show you name it yeah just
from a listener perspective or not being in the theater business you have certain
restrictions on are you obligated by you know the movie companies to you know
release a certain number of movies or is that all on you to pick and choose
whatever you want or is there I don’t to get into too much of a new show or yeah
secret sauce but I’ve just had this curious thought like are you under
contract to say these movies need to be produced yeah yeah it’s a great question
people always one of the top things I always want to know is is a how do you
get your movies yeah and what do they require the short answer is no we’re not
required to show any certain amount that’s you know the more complicated
answer is yeah what I mean we have to keep Studios happy they or her the right
producers of our content so you have to balance that I mean you can’t you have
to plan for it you can’t knock a while a a a big movie from a big studio might
not be doing particularly well at your theater it’s important to those guys who
are important to me and I can’t just knock it off the screen just in favor of
a 12 year olds birthday party I can’t plan for that and let them know and I
you know so again we can do what we want we just have to manage that relationship
just as you would in any other business you know in terms of how do we get our
movies we I have someone whose only job is procuring movies and forming
relationships with the studio’s he he represents me as several other movie
cinema chains and every single movies and negotiation so that’s why you have
to keep these guys happy I mean sometimes you have to take a movie you
don’t want just in order to get the other one coming down the road that you
do want yeah I mean it’s that business not just the business relationship but
kind of the workings of it in that they have to be on so many screens is what
they kind of count on or sure revenue right yeah and then finally you know I
say what’s next but let’s first be talked about people would find more
information just at Springs cinema calm correct right and that looks
like that’s most of your social media handles as well for Instagram and on
Facebook just check out Springs or in in terms of social media these Springs
cinema but the website just go to spring cinema calm and so for local folks that
are familiar with Atlanta and Sandy Springs give him some geography where
the theater is located in that area yes Sandy Springs these days seems to be
stretching further and further we are right at 285 in Roswell roads we are one
block north of 285 so there’s a Whole Foods and we’re sort of behind Whole
Foods but it’s Parkside shops again one block away from 285 we’re on the back
side of the shopping center if you if you follow your GPS and you pull into
the shopping center and don’t see a theater trust me it’s there yes keep
driving yeah back side of the shopping center so yeah there’s a bunch of stores
out front to pull a and everybody that’s what right and then the hours it looks
like seven days a week you’re not there seven days make yourself there these
days I am working on relief team my wife has given me specific instructions to to
reduce the number of days I’m working but yeah we’re open 365 days a year
eleven till eleven it looks like that was my next question so afternoon
matinees what about during the summer like I’ve always wondered like like on
off nights are there deals like on that you’re thinking about in terms of
marketing a certain night will be a theme or a discount night or for yeah I
mean that’s something you’re always kind of playing around with content but
during the summer we have a summer kids series that we’ll be featuring on a
couple days a week to really again try to promote the fun of going to movies
children we’re going to be doing you know we have a series called flashback
cinema that we showed a lot of retro movies couple days a week a lot of you
know my favorites and just our generations favorite movies
that we can introduce other people or movies that you know for example like
Patton we did Patton on the Wednesday you know people haven’t had the
opportunities and on a big screen certainly not digitally remastered so
you know we’re going to look to looking to do as much variation in content to be
more than just a traditional movie theater okay you know and then we have
you know for this month in particular we’re you know doing a lot of holiday
movies including part of our flashback series we’ll be doing you know favorites
like we just did a Christmas story we’ll be doing l4d next week we’ll be doing a
Miracle on 34th Street well it’s a wonderful life so yeah something for
everybody it’s wonderful like is every once every
family scene you know watches that at home but you wouldn’t think it’s
available the theater yeah we’re actually doing it on Christmas Eve and
Christmas Day oh wow that’s my brother’s favorite is the elf whatever yeah you
can’t alright rant anything else that we
should know before we sign out or and how it folks uh finds you at the website
only gets tougher yeah absolutely rich I mean we just you know once we’re done
with renovations here in the next couple weeks we would love for everybody to
come check out what we’re doing I know that we’re certainly very excited about
it I know that it’s gonna be different than other offerings in the community
and I think it’s you know our goal has been all along to be a little different
we even from the name the spring cinema we were been very careful we want to be
a community theater we want to be V theater for the Sandy Springs in North
Atlantic community all right well well said and I thought that just added to my
short list for the holidays to stop by and check it out that sounds phenomenal
alright so we’ll see you next time on the next episode of Georgia Business
rating rich Casanova we’ll see you next time thank you again for joining root
cast nova and our guests on the pro business
channel use the social media links here to share today’s show and stay tuned for
the next episode of georgia business radio

1 thought on “Brandt Gully Owner of The Springs Cinema & Taphouse on Georgia Business Radio

  1. I worked there when it was still Lefont Theaters two years ago. I still have the Lefont shirts. I hope to come back to Atlanta and see the changes that happened.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *