Fun & authentic British pub concept toasts $4 million a year.
The quaint walkways of San Antonio, Texas’s Riverwalk are a unique locale for an authentic British pub. And for United Kingdom natives Terry Corless and Justin Bentley-Marchant, Texas has proven to be the ideal U.S. backdrop for Mad Dogs British Pub, a full-tilt experience of British-influenced food, beers and colorful décor. As chief executive officer and chief operating officer, respectively, the team of Corless and Bentley-Marchant are poised to expand Mad Dogs’ unique brand of pub entertainment in the U.S., beginning in Texas and eventually to other states. Targeting development in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio first, the team aims to open two franchises by July 2011 and another three by July 2012, and 20 pubs by mid-2015.
As part of its concept, Mad Dogs British Pub puts its own playful twist on English pub culture, with its staff donning kilts and Union Jack dresses while serving guests with a smile.
“The Mad Dogs concept brings the renowned atmosphere of the British pub to the states while adding its own, fun flair,” says Corless, a native of Cambridge, England. “As the kilted staff serves beer to patrons in yard glasses, the pub buzzes with an energetic vibe that marries British tradition with domestic revelry.”
Mad Dog’s multicultural influences run deep, making it a truly global operation. COO Bentley-Marchant may have been born in Edinburgh, Scotland, but his father’s service in the British Army led him to Hong Kong, China, where his work with Mad Dogs International Group began in the 1990s.
More than a decade earlier, Hong Kong was the birthplace of Mad Dogs British concept. Founded in 1984 by Scots Laura McAllister Johnson and Andy Neilson, Mad Dogs International was the first to bring the British “Fun Pub” chain to Asia. The pub opened its first stateside location in 1995 in the heart of San Antonio’s Riverwalk, which has been hugely successful ever since. In 2009, annual revenues were in excess of $4 million.
Corless joined the company in 1996 as general manager of Mad Dogs Hong Kong, after spending more than 10 years managing first-class, international hotels in the UK, United Arab Emirates and along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Bentley-Marchant simultaneously rose through the company ranks, eventually overseeing the administration and financial aspects of the Asian side of the business; in early 2008, the company sold its remaining Hong Kong interests to focus solely on U.S. expansion.
“Everyone at Mad Dogs British Pub couldn’t be more excited about the timing of our launch into franchising in the U.S.,” Corless says. “Sites and locations are available that would never normally hit the market, landlords are doing some incredible deals and the market is gradually moving out of the doldrums. If you partner a great concept with a motivated entrepreneur, anything can happen.”
Open for both lunch and dinner, Mad Dogs keeps the party going late into the night, with live, weekly entertainment ranging from live bands and karaoke to DJs and monthly theme parties. Sporting events also take center stage on the pub’s 16 high-definition television screens. Guests can enjoy a lunchtime meal for an average ticket price of $13 per person, while dinner averages at $18 per person.
When it comes to dining and entertainment, Corless says that Mad Dogs caters to a range of clientele, with the bulk of evening business targeting 21- to 45-year-olds.
“Whether they are students, military personnel, or even local residents, our clientele is all about having fun,” he says.
The Mad Dogs concept mixes traditional pub ambiance with a fun, party-inspired atmosphere dedicated to food, drinks and live entertainment. In addition to the traditional décor of telephone boxes, cricket gear and bagpipes, guests can purchase kilts, yards, and sporrans—which are traditional kilt purses. Guests can also participate with the pub’s Magic Malay Money Legend by signing dollar bills and pinning them to the walls for good luck.
The menu’s signature entrée includes fish n’ chips served on the pub’s own printed newspaper dated December 7, 1941—the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
“The yard glasses are custom made for us with our own logo so that customers can take them home as a souvenir,” Corless explains. All yards come in 18-, 24- or 48-ounce sizes and can also be filled with frozen or soft drinks.
Given the pub’s good-time allure, Corless and Bentley-Marchant are also dedicated to giving back to the community. Each year, Mad Dogs make a donation to a charity of their choice while also participating in weekly, community outreach.
Mad Dogs looks to extend its international reach even further in the coming years, hoping to send a team to Mexico to build houses for the homeless.
MAD DOGS BRITISH PUB AT-A-GLANCE
For more info, visit www.maddogs.net or contact the headquarters: 4714 Shavano Oak, San Antonio, Texas. Phone: 210-342-9632. Send an email to get more info.