3 Keys Brewing of Manatee County
In 2019, Tina Yeung and Gabriel Schmitz purchased 3 Keys Brewing from its previous owners and transformed it into a local brewery with live entertainment, outdoor dining, and more than 20 beers on tap. Voted “Best Brewery in Tampa Bay,” 3 Keys Brewing became a staple in the community. But in March 2020, things took a turn for the local spot as the COVID-19 pandemic caused a statewide shutdown for indoor dining.
“We did shut down for a very brief time, but then when we came back out, we had a much better menu to offer,” Yeung said. “We had a different way of how we were operating internally and serving our guests. Really, it was the most stressful time, but it was a good opportunity to kind of reset and start over.”
As the pandemic progressed, Yeung and Schmitz began realizing they needed some expert advice and guidance. That’s when they came across the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida, specifically Scott Carpenter, certified business consultant specializing in marketing, branding, and strategy.
Carpenter was instrumental in helping the duo get the Florida Emergency Bridge Loan, which helped the brewery get through the worst months of the pandemic.
“Since we’ve worked with the Florida SBDC at USF, our business has really flourished,” Yeung said. “We’ve used a lot of their resources that they have at their disposal.”
Recently, they signed up to work with a student team from University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business. “They helped us with some marketing ideas and strategies on how we can grow our business even more,” Yeung said.
“More recently, we worked with a consultant on the DISC assessment, where we were able to give a few of our managers, myself, and Gabe the assessment to see how we can better communicate and work alongside each other, as we continue to grow the business.”
Yeung and Schmitz are grateful for the Florida SBDC at USF, and Carpenter’s assistance throughout the expansion of 3 Keys Brewing. Throughout the consulting relationship, the duo was able to access capital via the Bridge Loan program and have grown sales at the brewery considerably.
“As we continue to grow the business, we really value our relationship with the Florida SBDC at USF,” Yeung said. “We’re really appreciative and grateful for the support that the Florida SBDC has provided to us so far.”
The couple plans to utilize the Florida SBDC at USF moving forward to continue growing their business.
“Their team has years of experience, from marketing, to management, to organization and processes, they have more resources at their disposal than an individual or a couple would have,” Schmitz said. “Business is a confusing thing, and when you can bring more people in on your team that’s a free resource to you as well, why not take advantage of it?”