Elevating The Fox Experience: Changes underway at downtown Carson City restaurant and brewery | Carson City Nevada News
Ronni Hannaman, Carson City Chamber
Jim Phalan’s New Year’s resolution is to enhance the customer experience at his popular downtown Carson City brewery and restaurant, The Fox.
He has made it a priority to listen to his customers’ feedback and suggestions, saying, “After 15 years, it’s time to give Fox some TLC.”
Fox is operating in one of the most historic buildings in the city and after serving thousands of customers, Phalan wants to create a new haven for current and future Fox customers to enjoy an elevated food and beverage experience that has made diligently renaming it The Fox Brewery and Pub to better reflect the beer side of his business.
It was on January 7, 2008, the fox was born in Carson City at the former St. Charles-Muller located at 310 S. Carson Street and was first christened The Firkin’ and Fox. Before the derelict hotel built in 1862 opened, the building had to undergo a complete and expensive renovation to bring it up to code so it could open as a local pub that quickly became a local favorite.
Already some minor cosmetic renovations such as repainting have been underway in the Mark Twain Room and the newly renamed Fox’s Den. The pub will be closed from 8-15 January to allow the main dining and bar area to be refurbished.
Phalan promises that the cozy pub feel will remain, only better, “I want the Fox to feel familiar and not lose the pub feel, but I also want to wow my loyal customers a bit this year .” This wow factor will include a more open bar with a new more modern ball, new TVs and sound system, new tables/booths and chairs and pendant lighting to brighten the room and give the area a more mid-century modern that has become so popular.
The Mark Twain Room behind the main bar is small and intimate and has already received a fresh coat of paint to create a cozier feel. A bookshelf will be added to the new space to house Mark Twain memorabilia and all new tables and chairs. This room is perfect for small gatherings.
Behind the Mark Twain Room is the Fox’s Den for those who want a smaller bar atmosphere – now without the bar top slot machines – which has also received a new coat of paint and a new bar top, tables and chairs. By eliminating electronic games, it’s Phalan’s hope that more interesting conversations will be sparked and friendships formed.
Both bars will feature a new state-of-the-art beer tower to make it easier for friendly bartenders to perfectly pour well-chilled home-brewed craft beer.
The only beer served will be freshly brewed craft beer on tap created on premise by award-winning head brewer Tim Mason. The installation of two new tanks is part of the upgrade process. “We installed the beer system in this building and started brewing in January 2017, so 6 years have passed. We have a 7 bbl brewery and have bought 2 new tanks to expand production,” Phalan proudly states.
Creating great beer is nothing new to Phalan and his team. He once owned and then sold Great Basin Brewing Company in Carson City and Sparks and today also operates Bendita Carmelita Brewery in Ciudad Del Carmen, Mexico. He has more expansion plans, but is currently focusing on making The Fox Brewery & Pub an all-ages gathering place.
There will also be a rebranding of the friendly fox, the long-time mascot that first appeared in 2008. The fox is getting a new outfit and now his neon red head pops as you enter the pub. The new website is up and running showcasing the new beers and menus and the beer cans proudly display the fox logo.
So what about raising food? It’s always good to save the best news for last.
To ensure food quality will also be part of the elevation plan, Phalan has forged a relationship with one of Carson’s top chefs, who has been without a commercial kitchen of his own since March 2019.
Expect to see the magic that chef Charlie Abowd is known for as part of the elevated food offerings. Chef Charlie will oversee the kitchen and servers to ensure that the overall pub experience Phalan aspires to is maintained. Yes, you read that correctly, Chef Charlie Abowd will be elevating the food offerings with many lingering menu favorites plus a daily special, but with just that added touch.
The timing for the refresh couldn’t be better. The 82nd Nevada Legislature opens on February 6 and will undoubtedly draw lawmakers and lobbyists to christen the revitalized pub as it must have drawn Mark Twain to enjoy a pint or two at the St. Louis Hotel. Charles in 1862. Expect to see a special drink honoring Mark Twain being introduced in time for Mark Twain Days coming downtown the weekend of April 21, 2023.
The unveiling of the newly erected Fox Brewery and Pub will be held after January 15 to celebrate the 15th anniversary. Phalan tells us, “Our pub is still family owned and we will keep that neighborhood pub feel. My family and I love Carson City and want to give the city the kind of pub experience that can’t be found anywhere else.”
His mantra is to think long term, “Short term thinking gets you nowhere, think long term and stay on track.” We think Jim Phalan and his amazing team will continue to stay on track through whatever the economy has to offer.
Jim wants to think long-term instead of short-term and wants to make sure that every time a customer walks through his doors, the experience will be the same.
Thus, building your brand means making strategic choices about using these values to shape positive customer experience and create engagement and connection. Here are some ways to do it.
1. Put your customers first
All branding efforts must begin and end with the customer. So, no matter if you’re just trying to build your brand from scratch, elevate it, or rebrand, you’ll need to gauge your customers’ thoughts and feelings. Your ultimate goal should be to create a satisfying customer experience that will attract them to your product or service for a long time. Instead of offering a simple product or service, try to offer them a lifestyle.
2. Humanize your brand
When you first started branding, someone probably told you that your brand should have a personality, but the truth is much more. That person must also embody the human experience, use emotion and honest storytelling techniques. So, evoking real and honest emotions is much better than just shoving your products down customers’ throats.
— Writer Ronni Hannaman is the Executive Director of the Carson City Chamber of Commerce.