Matt Tanner ’14, BBA, is an entrepreneur who never lets opportunity pass by him – a quality which has propelled him into founding and serving as the CEO of Philly Boyz Cheesesteaks LLC, becoming a franchisee for both Auntie Anne’s and Tropical Smoothie, and serving as the CEO of Tanner Media, all in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. We caught up recently with Tanner, who shares how Shenandoah has influenced his life in business and what he’s doing right now.
Q. Where are you from in Pennsylvania, and how did you first hear about Shenandoah University?
I grew up in York, Pennsylvania, and attended West York Area Middle/High School. I first heard about Shenandoah because I was being recruited for soccer.
Q. When did you decide to become a business major? What interested you about entrepreneurship as a minor?
I watched my dad as a business owner throughout growing up. I love entrepreneurship and trying to create something for myself rather than work for someone!
Q. Tell us about a favorite class or event that you feel has been especially valuable to you professionally:
“Mind of an Entrepreneur ” and “Introduction to Business.” I learned basic principles and how to apply them to real life. “Mind of an Entrepreneur,” was a very unique course that was geared more towards the thinking behind growing/building your own business and therefore had me very engaged.
Q. Did you have a favorite faculty member? Who and why?
Dean Davis was great to learn from! He gave a very well-rounded and educated perspective on business and was always extremely down to earth.
Q. How did you choose Tuscaloosa as your home?
I found an existing Auntie Anne’s location in Tuscaloosa for sale online and negotiated a great deal on it. I took a leap of faith and moved here not knowing anyone and continued to acquire and grow other businesses since.
Q. How did you become interested in the restaurant business?
Watching my dad growing up! My dad runs a multi-unit Auntie Anne’s pretzel franchise, and it was always inspiring to see continuous growth upon more and more locations!
Q. Tell me about the concept for your new restaurant, Philly Boyz:
Philly Boyz is a new concept that I have created. I have patents pending on all the intellectual property. I was inspired to do it from my two uncles, and Mom, who are from Philadelphia originally! I want to be able to bring an authentic Philly cheesesteak concept to all of the Southeast and all over the world, through the franchise model.
Q. When did you open? What are your customers’ favorite foods? What do you think makes the restaurant unique or memorable?
We opened on June 8. Customers love our traditional Philly cheesesteak, french fry platters, and Buffalo chicken cheesesteak. It is very unique in the south due to the quality of the Amoroso bread (from Philly), meats, and energetic atmosphere. We have had tons of people from Philly come in and say it is just like it, if not better!
Q. What is “Amoroso” bread?
Amoroso bread is a specific roll made in Philadelphia that is soft on the inside and slightly crunchy on the outside.
Q. What are your plans for the future?
I am working with a franchise attorney and consultant to build the Philly Boyz brand into a fast casual/quick service food industry.