Daniel Huff and Brandon Schaefer are a classic team: dreamers, brothers from another mother, one part Mutt and Jeff and one part the Black Keys; well, at least if they work hard at it and get some things very right. These guys love beer, wine and bourbon, like lots of people. The difference is that they want to take their passion and turn it into a business, a business that will get them out of their bartending careers and transform Louisvilleâ€™s food and drinks scene forever.
Inspired by the Food Networkâ€™s â€œDiners, Drive-Ins and Dives,â€ Huff started Vines, Barrels and Kegs as a TV program to showcase people who make those three products. But then Huff â€œdecided against going to network TV with the concept because â€“ I mean, we had 700 views for our first show on YouTube. Which is more than a lot of people get from Hollywood on theirs. So we decided to start a website.â€
They decided to make the site a social media hub for alcohol, food and music. They want it to become a place to find anything you would want to know about these topics. Instead of Googling, or using Yelp or Beer Advocate, they want you to go to VBK instead. Whatâ€™s so different and special about their site? Well, they say, theirs has videos.
â€œWeâ€™ve combined the use of YouTube, Facebook and Craigslist,â€ Huff says. All video, and very few words: â€œMore people are more apt to open a link on other social media, or a text or an email â€¦ some people like to read, some people do video. More people look at a video than the constant barrageâ€¦â€
â€œI mean, it hasnâ€™t been done yet,â€ Schaefer interjects. â€œYou can see your personality better if youâ€™re on a video, obviouslyâ€¦do you want to watch a movie or do you want to read a book, you know?â€ he adds with laugh.
Schaefer says he recently used a video of Dan Aykroyd promoting the starâ€™s vodka line to sell a pair of $9 shots to his customers at Diamond Pub & Billiards, instead of the cheaper well shots they would have otherwise purchased.
Members can set up their own pages where they follow their favorite chefs, liquor companies, and also add friends â€“ like Facebook, but itâ€™s not Facebook, itâ€™s VBK. You can even sign up for VBK Mail. â€œYou can have interactions on the website, so you donâ€™t even have to go to your email,â€ Huff explains further.
As for the Craigslist approach, Huff says that comes in because of the video recipe-book section. If youâ€™re making drinks at a party, he wants you to go to his site to see recipes being demonstrated.
The music aspect is up and running at full steam, and the founders say a big crossover audience goes to see bands play in bars. Music in their TV pilot was provided by their friends the Villebillies. â€œIâ€™ve heard from several people that the music scene is almost like when Nirvana was in Seattle,â€ Huff says. He dreams of live-streaming events like a Garth Brooks concert or even the Country Music Awards on Vines, Barrels & Kegs.
Louisvilleâ€™s role as a food and drinking hub is only getting bigger, says Huff, 38. â€œItâ€™s possibly becoming the foodie capital of the United States,â€ he declares, citing Bobby Flay as an example. â€œThere are more places to eat here per-capita than anywhere in the United States â€¦so why not expose it in a city where basketball, horse racing, bourbon and food are all synonymous?â€
See for yourself at vinesbarrelsandkegs.com.