It’s Tom’s Town once again in Kansas City.
Come get the inside scoop on the new Tom’s Town Distilling Co., with our GEW-inspired Wise Words featuring Steve Revare and David Epstein. These two serial entrepreneurs plan to chat openly about their e-ship victories and battles – from BlairLake to Amp’d, and how (and why) in the world they decided to leap into the wild world of alcohol production. We can’t wait to hear more about the Crossroads noob and the three-story, 17,000 square-foot red brick building on the new streetcar line on Main Street that will serve as the Tom’s Town distillery, tasting room and event space.
“The last time this building was used for manufacturing, a streetcar ran out in front of it, and by the time we get the space finished and start production, we will be manufacturing with a streetcar running out front as well.” – Steve Revare, Feast Magazine, March 20, 2015.
The backstory here, noted on their website, harkens back to the 1920s and ’30s, when Tom Pendergast gripped Kansas City with a combination of crushing graft and brutal political power. If you paid, you played. Without exception, this was Tom’s town.
Ironically, Boss Tom’s control freed people in unexpected ways. The city ignored Prohibition. Downtown speakeasies numbered in the hundreds. Inspired locals invented unique cocktails and improvised a new form of music called jazz. It was the most incredible music and cocktail scene the nation had ever known, earning Kansas City the moniker, “The Paris of the Plains.”
It’s hard not to revel in the simplicity and elegance of the political machine that was started when Tom’s older brother Jim Pendergast won big on a long-shot horse, bought a saloon and bar-tended his way into the hearts and minds of locals. So much so that when a friend of his ran for mayor, Jim simply asked his customers to vote for his friend, and set the political gears in motion. Jim seized this opportunity and ran for alderman and won, then jumped on the expansion band wagon and promptly opened another saloon near the courthouse and city hall. (Winning!) Tom was hired to serve as the cashier and bookkeeper for that first saloon, and quickly began to take on the political matters – inserting his brute force style over Jim’s more persuasive slant – confessing in a later interview to a New York Times reporter that he eventually learned from his brother’s wisdom:
“I know all the angles of organizing, and every man I meet becomes my friend. I know how to select ward captains and I know how to get to the poor. Every one of my workers has a fund to buy food, coal, shoes and clothing. When a poor man comes to old Tom’s boys for help, we don’t make one of those damn fool investigations like these city charities. No, by God, we fill his belly and warm his back and vote him our way.”
Steve and David’s Tom’s Town Distilling Company is a modern take on these Kansas City traditions of creative freedom and authenticity. Cheers to that.
Click here to RSVP for Think Big Thursday’s GEW edition of Wise Words with Tom’s Town founders Steve Revare and Davide Epstein and gain new knowledge, insight and connections that you can help you grow your business and yourself.
BONUS: When you attend a Think Big Thursday program, you get a special rate on drop-in coworking for the day – only $10 (value $15) gets you access to a place to work, Wi-Fi, coffee and collaborative environment needed to fuel your productivity.