Episode 19: Matt LeMond from O’Daly’s Irish Pub

Transcript:

Welcome to Podcast episode number 19 with Matt Lemond. My name is Marcus Neto and I own Blue Fish, a digital marketing and web design company based in downtown Mobile. We’re located on Dauphin Street (in the old Mattress Factory building) so come by and say “Hi!”. I’m the host of the Mobile Alabama Business Podcast where we talk to local entrepreneurs, business influencers and business owners about business and also just some background stuff, what they like to do in their free time, how they got started in business, things of that nature. I’d like to thank you for spending time with us today.

In today’s show, as I mentioned, we’re talking with Matt Lemond. Now, Matt is roughly 30 years old, has owned about seven businesses and is not stopping there, he’s the current owner of O’Dalys Irish Pub on Dauphin Street, he also owns a t-shirt printing shop and he also ran the Pita Pit downtown on Dauphin Street, as well. This was a really great interview, Matt’s an exciting guy, so without further ado, here’s Matt Lemond.

Marcus: Today I’m sitting down with Matt Lemond; Matt is the owner of O’Dalys down here on Dauphin Street. Welcome to the Podcast, Matt.

Matt: Hey, thanks for having me.

Marcus: Yes, I’ve been excited to sit down with you. You and I just met so we don’t know each other, but I did a little bit of research on you and you seem to be quite the avid entrepreneur, even at such a young age, so I’m really excited to hear how this goes today. So, tell us a little bit about yourself, give us some background just about, you know, did you grow up here in Mobile? Where did you go to school? Give us something to start with.

Matt: Actually, yes, I actually grew up in New Orleans, born and raised in New Orleans and played a lot of sports in high school and I was looking at going to California for college and somehow trickled my way over here to Mobile. I went to Spring Hill College, graduated from there, ironically with a biology degree. Out of college, I started working for Red Bull, as more on the marketing department, which I kind of, I guess, I can attest like most of my business too is more of the marketing side of running the business, but I kind of flipped a bunch of little businesses into our small business now that and I ran O’Daly. I was looking for more opportunities.

Marcus: Very cool. You said you played a lot of sports, what sports did you play?

Matt: Man, in high school I played basketball, ran track, swam, ran cross-country, and then I finished with triathlon and that’s what I was looking to do in California. It was a little bit too far from home to travel back for the holidays and family things so…

Marcus: I’m sure mom and dad were not excited about that idea.

Matt: [Laughter] they were very grateful that I went to Spring Hill. I went there, swam at Spring Hill and ran cross-country on a scholarship.

Marcus: From what I understand, they have a pretty good sports program over there even for what I would consider a smaller school, but I went to James Madison and there were like 10,000 students in my graduating… well, not in my graduating class, there were 10,000 students at the school at that time and it’s roughly doubled that now or more, if I remember correctly.

Matt: Spring Hill has like 2,200 students. [Laughter]

Marcus: Exactly, yes, I had 3,200 students in my high school. There were 725 students in my graduating class in high school.

Matt: WOW! Yes, okay, my graduating high school class was a little bit bigger than my college class but not that big. [Laughter]

Marcus: Yes, they have some big schools in Northern Virginia, but that’s really interesting to me that you were so involved. Now, do you stay involved in sports?

Matt: Yes, I still... currently, I do crossfit about five or six days a week, and I stay in shape. I enjoy running, but I kind of enjoy the more like the group personal training of crossfit, but I’m very active. We do the social activities with kickball and we have a wiffle ball league behind O’Dalys and stuff, so I try to stay as active as possible.

Marcus: That’s only two blocks away man, we may have to get involve in that. [Laughter]

Matt: You only need five people on a team man. [Laughter]

Marcus: Yes, we may have to recruit a couple of people so, that’ll be a lot of fun. Well, how did you get started in the food services industry? You mentioned Red Bull, was that kind of your entry into this?

Matt: Yes, so when I graduated from college, I was like between jumping on board to go to medical school or I was working for Red Bull part-time. They offered me a full time position which I’d say strategically like two weeks before I had made any decisions about graduate school and I was 22, full of energy and the job was still in Mobile. So I was covering from Biloxi to Panama City and I just couldn’t turn it down, you know, it’s one of those things that I felt that I could always go back to graduate school if that’s what I wanted to do, but I was just too active.

Marcus: I remember, it’s just a side tangent, but I remember when Red Bull first started coming out and I was reading some article about them and the discussed Red Bull as a marketing company and I had always, up until that point, thought of them as a product company and then it clicked, I was like, “Oh, my god, they’re brilliant” because everything that they do is geared towards that marketing, of the lifestyle, the extreme sports and stuff like that, so I imagined that was a great experience.

Matt: Exactly. I single handedly can, you know… my co-worker’s boss’ company is what I give a lot of credit for what I do now because a lot of people ask and say, that I meet, they say, “What do you do for a living?” And I usually tell them marketing, just for the sake that an entrepreneur has so many different definitions to that but for me marketing… I’m marketing the brand of O’Dalys, some people may think it’s a bar, but to me it's the brand, that people talk about it, think about it, then it's going to continue to grow versus “it’s just a bar”, there are a lot of bars, you know.

Marcus: Yeah, exact words, you're more than that.

Matt: I want to give it some character and some life.

Marcus: Absolutely, so tell us… that was a great segway. Tell us a little bit about O’Dalys, where did the name come from? Where the idea come from? Are you Irish? [Laughter]

Matt: I am Irish, my great-grandmother is from Cork, Ireland. I’m probably more French than anything, Lemond.

Marcus: I was going to say it, that’s why I was laughing because I was like, “With a name like Lamond”, maybe O’Lemond, you should…

Matt: [Laughter] I’m from New Orleans so I have a little bit more of Creole than anything, but I had a college bar prior to O’Dalys. I had a business partner then and we were looking at an Irish pub downtown. Every time we went out of town, we found Irish pubs, it was fun, slam your drink down and the staff was always fun.

Marcus: The music is always excellent.

Matt: Yes, we wanted that kind of energy behind a place and found this spot over here and it was cinder block walls and cement floors, and I was like, “I just don’t know.” I open the back door and here’s this big lot, weeds over my head and I could just picture Saint Patrick’s Day and all of these events and I was like, “This is it,” and that was it, you know, we jumped straight in. Funny enough, his wife at the time, her family’s maiden name was O’Dalys and I was very… I wanted a name that something like “Fiddlers Green” “Murphy’s Law” something like that, but I looked up O’Dalys and it meant “a place of good assembly” and I was like…

Marcus: Done.

Matt: We’re done! This is it, it’s over. I since bought him out, they’re no longer married. [Laughter]

Marcus: Oh, gosh. It’s a sad remembrance for him, I’m sure.

Matt: We still have the “place of good assembly”, so…

Marcus: So when you’re asked, as a marketing person, what is unique about O’Dalys besides it being probably the only Irish bar in Mobile?

Matt: Well, there’s Callahan’s...

Marcus: Okay, yes, you’re right. I'm sorry, no offense to Callahan’s and then you've got McSharry’s over in Fairhope. But those are really the only three in the area, am I correct in that?

Matt: Yes.

Marcus: Very cool, so what else? What else sets you…?

Matt: You know, when I first opened it up, I wanted O’Dalys as an Irish pub you already have a niche, you’re Irish, that’s your niche. As an American Irish pub we went after the Irish Car Bomb which is a very popular drink whatever, and it's funny, when I first opened it I said that “I’m going to do the Car Bombs at cost” - we want people to come in and have a good time, get a Car Bomb and they’re going to enjoy it and stay for a while, so we’re going to center it on this theme of camaraderie, the fun, we’ll never put it in a cup, you always have to drop the glass in there, it explodes, it makes a mess. Well, $3.25 Car Bomb doesn’t sound very good, the hum of the $3.25 Car Bombs was like a change nightmare so after like a week, we changed it to “home of the $4 Car Bombs”.

Marcus: Before you go too much further, for those that aren’t familiar with what a Car Bomb is, because man I have to tell you it’s been a long time since I’ve had one, I don’t remember what’s actually in the Car Bomb.

Matt: It’s a half of pint of Guinness and then a shot that’s half Bailey’s Irish Cream and half Jameson Irish Whiskey, you drop the shot into the Guinness so… but it’s the experience of it and that’s where, to me, the marketing aspect of it is. It's the experience of it dropping in, it's splashing, you drink it, you’ve got the Car Bomb mustache, you get it on your shirt, you wake up the next morning, you still have Car Bomb on you and that’s the fun part about it.

Marcus: That’s really cool. Tell us what… I mean, obviously you have other experiences as well, just for the record, tell us your age.

Matt: I’m 30.

Marcus: Okay, so keep that in mind folks, as you’re listening to this, this gentleman that we’re talking to today is only 30 years old and has a ton of experience and has been extremely successful. So, you run several other businesses, why don’t you give us a kind of a run-down of just some of those, you don’t have to list them all.

Matt: Right, I have O’Dalys, after about two years of O’Dalys, we expanded to the buildings next door and added two other bars, which Draft Picks Tap Room, more of a draft beer, sports bar and then Dauphin Street Blues Company which is kind of my New Orleans roots of daquiri, live music place, and then I actually had a screen printing business prior to the bars and it kind of feeds off of each other, it allows us to be able to have our own promotional items on site and we can sell them at a reasonable price so that it's not hanging on the shelf, people are actually wearing the items. I did open Pita Pit here and since I have sold my part of that, and I have just kind of recently got into the rental property business.

Marcus: You have more experience than most people even twice your age. As an entrepreneur, what’s the most important thing that you’ve learned?

Matt: You know and we’ve actually talked about this ourselves, like I said... it’s kind of the fall on your face method. You’re going to make mistakes, but I don’t ever make the same mistake twice, so I very quickly learn from that mistake, but I guarantee you I make plenty of them. [Laughter]

Marcus: I was going to say, there’s a sailing note that saying “Nobody cares how many times you fail, they only care how many times you get up” and make sure that it's more, that you’re getting up more times than you’re failing, right? That’s interesting. So, what area of the business are you putting a lot of effort into?

Matt: You know, I try to focus a lot of my time into growth and it's not necessarily how I can build another O’Dalys in another area. Very frequently, I get asked that question, “When are you guys going to open another place?” “When are you guys going to do something else?” and to me, when I mean growth it's more of making it a well-oiled machine so that it grows into its own personality, that it can essentially run itself without me. I know that'll never be the case but I want it to be able to have that opportunity to grow so that I can look for other opportunities, and having the right people working with you is the biggest challenge, and I’m grateful to have the crew that I have.

Marcus: That’s a recurring theme on the podcast that people seem to be the most important element in any business. Making sure that you have the right people in the right positions and that you’re enabling them to do the jobs that you’re asking them to do. It’s interesting that you’re asked about kind of this franchise or this expansion method and I think every entrepreneur’s… maybe my idea of the ideal is having a business that kind of runs itself, that you’re kind of involved in and provide direction for, but not so mired-down in the day to day operations of, so what are you kind of doing to get that rolling? Because that’s really just a hard kind of balance to have.

Matt: Right and people that know me, maybe, know I'm a very, I guess, type A, I like to call it…

Marcus: I would never have guessed.

Matt: [Laughter] I like to call it particular. Some of the other words I feel would use a very particular. One of the things I’ve done within the past two years that I started, is that basically I've started to make our own manual of running the business in, things that you should do each month, events that come up “we’re three months out on beer fest.” It's... okay now it’s time to start getting our promotional items for that, what can we do? Like book your vans. I guess to the point that when I’m not there I have someone that can look at that and I know “okay, I’m supposed to be doing that this week”, on top of the other items that we do every week to keep the place clean and in order, and replaced. I mean, things do happen, it is a bar and, you know, we have those ten percent of customers. It’s our job to make it look on Monday or the next week when somebody comes back that is the same as it was, as always. We’re just not a dive bar. So that when we do have the opportunity to have that growth, I can focus on the events, that is what I enjoy doing and I think that’s what helps to set O’Dalys apart, is the continual events that we do as opposed to just opening our doors, selling some booze and closing our doors.

Marcus: Right. Now that’s awesome because I think people don’t quite understand that you can apply process to just about any business and so that’s really helpful. What are some resources that you’ve found helpful? Are there any websites or books or any organizations or anything along those lines that it kind of helped you in this?

Matt: Yes, I kind of get made fun off because I read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” probably about 15 times.

Marcus: That’s fantastic.

Matt: And it’s a gift that actually for my wedding, my wife… we had a deal that if she read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” I would read “Harry Potter”, so... it was a good trade, I enjoyed it, but it is a book that every time I read it is just like a good movie that you see parts of it and you don’t pick up things the first time that you watched it. The different times that I read that book, I read it… and they have a series of other books that he’s written and his comrades have written as well that are very knowledgeable, but that book specifically is so incredible and teaches you so much on the basic level because so many people think that they have such a great concept of how it works and we’re just not taught that as kids.

Marcus: Right, it’s amazing that we go through school… I didn’t really like school, quite honestly, I didn’t see the practical application of a lot of the things that we were learning, but I get out of school and I read books like “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and the idea behind it, and correct me because it’s been awhile since I’ve read it, correct me if I’m wrong but the idea behind it is that the author, and I forget his name, he invests in real estate, and he uses that as a mechanism by which to build his business so he has not just one or two properties, but he may have several hundred properties and not all of them are generating thousands of dollars a month, but by having a larger group of folks, a larger group of properties, then he can sustain the business, he can have processes set up in place and he looks at it as a way of building his empire but it was really… I need to go back and regroup again because it’s really good stuff.

Matt: Yes and, you know, it’s about financial intelligence and he uses the rental property as an example, especially when he was getting into business because that was an available market that he saw an opportunity, but that’s not necessarily the opportunity for everyone right this second. One of my favorite things that he says in the book is it says he retires at age 46 and it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t work, he just works when he wants to work, his assets are higher than his liabilities, but it’s a good book.

Marcus: You’ve just moved that up on my reading list again, and I’m going to go back and read it.

Matt: [Laughter] It’s very good because, like I said, you brought up in school, we’re taught in school “get good grades, stay out of trouble, you’re going to be successful” but we’re not taught about how money really works and to get money to work for itself.

Marcus: Yes, and the definition of success there is not necessarily yours and mine definition of success.

Matt: That’s it exactly. Everyone perceives success a very different way because mine is not wealth, but…

Marcus: I guess let’s go down that path; you opened it up, what is your definition of success?

Matt: I enjoy what I do and I find happiness in the work that I do and to me the success is the happiness in your job every single day, and it’s kind of like the pursuit of happiness, you know, some days are a little bit more challenging than the others, but if I continue to challenge myself to grow, the money… that’ll come with hard work and effort, and everything like that, but that’s not going to make me feel like I’m successful by just having a paycheck.

Marcus: Is there, and I’m stealing this one from Lewis Howes, for those of you that listen to a lot of podcasts, if you were to look, who would you look to and say they’ve achieved the success level that you’re looking to achieve?

Matt: Man, that’s hard to say. [Laughter]

Marcus: I’m so glad that I don’t get asked these questions, folks [Laughter].

Matt: That’s hard to say because, you know, everybody is so different, and there’s probably a few different people that I can see in that level of success... but that’s a tough one to answer, I’m not sure. I’ll have to come back, I’ll have to do some homework and come back on that one.

Marcus: Yes, there you go. Let me know when you have a name that you want to throw out there so… I find that many business owners are really focused on their businesses, but they also have hobbies that allow them to stay balanced. You mentioned crossfit, so I’m assuming that’s one of them. Do you have any other hobbies that you…?

Matt: Yes, crossfit is probably like my daily hobby that I do. I do have a lot of energy so I don’t have… I’m not a big “sit around watch movies” kind of person, so a lot of them are a little bit more active and stuff. My wife and I we went to Greece for our honeymoon and we do... traveling is amazing, everyone wishes that they could travel more, I can imagine, but we have such a great family-base around us. Her family is in Atlanta, New Orleans and we spend a lot of time in New Orleans and, big Saints fan, so...

Marcus: Going to the games?

Matt: Yes, we have season tickets...so, yes, that is a big part of fall and winter of our lives.

Marcus: That’s very cool. Well give us a look at an average day, what does that look like for you? What time do you get up? Are there any rituals that you do every day? You mentioned crossfit, I’m assuming that it fits in there somewhere; do you check on specific things every day?

Matt: Yes, so every day is different. Working for yourself, I’m fortunate that I have the energy and the will to not stop working, I know it’s nice to be able to turn it off but every day is different for me so… Mondays are probably my busiest day as far as like getting stuff done, get up about six o’clock, go to the gym, seven to eight fifteen, shower, eat breakfast, come back downtown, and Mondays kind of going through the weekend, it's just me and my manager, she does inventory, I go through the list of “to dos” that I’ve put on my phone between last Monday and this Monday that we try to take care of, we walk through each bar, we try to update, try to get rid of any lurkers, alcohol that is not moving, talk about events, we mix lunch in there. Like I said, each Monday can be very different, where we have a lot of things that we have to get through and then once we get through that, it's talking about future events. We’ve got a big event coming up at the end of the month with the Revivalist playing so we’re talking about how can we make that unique for us. The rest of the week, days during the week are… I sometimes joke and say that I can have a book that is like, “My life is an errand” because I feel like I’m always on an errand whether it be Lowes or restaurant supplies and stuff like that. Then, with the t-shirt business, I have to find time and I try to find time during business hours to respond to emails because I get a lot of emails with that, so that in the evening time I can spend time with my wife and that it is a little bit us hanging back.

Marcus: Yes, I can imagine keeping that work life balanced. There were some that would argue that that’s a myth, especially when you own your own business, and if you have multiple businesses then it gets even more difficult, I would imagine.

Matt: And I’m so grateful for her because, in a sense, things that can wait until tomorrow, she helps me realize that they can wait until tomorrow, but I’m one of these people that are like, “I’ve got to get through this, I’ve got to get through it, let’s knock this out, one less thing I have to do tomorrow” so I’m fortunate that I have her to be able to kick back and at least, if I’m talking about it, it is with her and we can spend some time with our dogs and stuff.

Marcus: Very good. Well… congratulations on finding that special someone, because I know that’s pretty awesome. Just to wrap up, where can people find you? Give us your website, twitter address, Facebook, physical address all that stuff.

Matt: Ok, so, we’re ODalysIrishPub.com, which is O-D-A-L-Y-S Irish Pub dot com. We have a lot of information on there and it kind of can redirect you to our Facebook page O’Dalys Irish Pub. We also have a Facebook page for our screen printing business which is Lemon Tees, and then I’m on Twitter: @ODalysIrishPub, Instagram: @ODalysIrishPub. So, a lot of O’Dalys Irish Pub. [Laughter]

Marcus: [Laughter] Well I want to thank you again for coming on the podcast. To wrap up, any final thoughts or comments you’d like to share?

Matt: No, I appreciate you guys having me. It’s been great

Marcus: Very good. Well, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a business owner and entrepreneur and it was great talking to you.

Matt: Same to you.