Coffee and music: A profitable pairing

Posted: April 30, 2013

T OMMY JOYNER, 42, of Ardmore, is the founder of MilkBoy the Studio, in Callowhill, and two MilkBoy coffee-and-music venues, in Center City and Ardmore. Now, Joyner and longtime business partner Jamie Lokoff, 47, of Society Hill, are branching out. A third partner, Bill Hanson, 38, of Southwest Center City, is involved in the food-and-beverage part of the biz. I spoke with Joyner.

Q: How did the business start?

A: It began as a recording studio in North Philly in 1994. I didn't have a business plan and needed a place to record my band's record. Then I found other bands to record. In 1999, I met Jamie, who's a composer, and we partnered up and do a lot of work for film and television, a lot of commercial work.

Q: And the name MilkBoy?

A: The first studio was an old former music-repair shop filled with instruments that had been repaired but never picked up. One was a bass drum with a picture of a kid drinking milk glued on it, which became our mascot.

Q: What exactly is MilkBoy?

A: We're a music company, and the recording studio is its heart. I spend most of my time working with existing artists or trying to get new ones to come and record.

Q: What about Jamie and Bill?

A: Jamie writes scores for media clients. He conceived the idea that led to MilkBoy Coffee in Ardmore in 2006. Bill joined in 2011 when we opened MilkBoy Philly at 11th and Chestnut with a bar.

Q: Why did you decide on a bar?

A: We wanted to change the model a little bit and add alcohol to the mix and make that a larger venue for concerts. Food-and-bev is what drives the numbers.

Q: You have a new bar menu.

A: We wanted to elevate what we do there and hired a new chef. People are always surprised how good the food is at a place they came to for a different reason.

Q: Anything else going on with the MilkBoy brand?

A: We also have an online crowdfunding site for artists called Feed the Muse. Separately, there's a publishing company, and I manage a local rock band, the Fleeting Ends, which we want to break into the national market.

Q: How big is MilkBoy's biz?

A: We have 45 employees, and I'd say 15 are full-time. Revenues are probably close to $2 million.

Q: You're making a film now?

A: We've got a production company to shoot a romantic comedy here. We have a script, we've engaged a casting director and now we're raising money, $250,000 so far. We're still short of the money we need. We look at [film] as another way to feed our enterprises. But that's not the why. Why we do this is because we love music.

Q: Where do you see the MilkBoy brand in five years?

A: We hope the studio is thriving and we're involved in local music and film. I'd like to see a wider network of food-and-bev establishments and music venues.


On Twitter: @MHinkelman

Online: ph.ly/YourBusiness

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