Seven years ago, Amanda Thompson started bartending at Wiseacre Brewing Co.’s taproom a couple of nights a week, just to get out of the house.
Thompson was a stay-at-home mom raising two kids. Her brother, Sam, was a Wiseacre brewer.
“My brother knew that, as a stay-at-home mom, I was struggling a little bit, looking for some adult interaction.”
That part-time taproom job at Wiseacre led to a full-time job, and Thompson started to work her way up the ranks at Memphis’s largest craft brewery.
Wiseacre announced this week that Thompson has been named the brewery’s first chief operating officer.
“I’m really excited about it, and a little bit nervous. I think up until this point, I have mainly interfaced with our internal customers, with our people, and, to some degree, with our distributor partners. But this is a position with a lot higher visibility,” Thompson said.
“It’s affording me new opportunities … to be able to expand my connections with other folks in the industry, and step out of my comfort zone a little bit.”
Rising through the ranks
Thompson is a Memphis native and graduate of White Station High School, just like the Bartosch brothers who founded Wiseacre.
She graduated from the University of Memphis with a degree in liberal studies. Out of college, she worked at Regions Bank for several years before taking a step back to be at home with her two young children.
Thompson was a beer drinker and a fan of Wiseacre’s brews, but had no experience in the beer industry before starting at Wiseacre.
Since joining the taproom, she’s worked in administration, events, human resources, and operations.
Kellan Bartosch, who co-founded Wiseacre with his brother, Davin, said they value Thompson’s opinions and insights tremendously.
“And we are grateful for her ability to recognize challenges and her assertiveness about how to address them. Any time Amanda faces a hurdle, it’s become an opportunity for her to shine. Amanda has done all of this with a great attitude, patience, a sense of humor, creativity, and showing the world that ‘everything is figure-outable,’” he said.
“Beyond work functions, her contributions to company culture have been massive. Her title change is both a recognition of the work she has done across many departments and a reflection of additional levels of responsibility that she’ll take on as Wiseacre continues to grow.”
Looking ahead at Wiseacre
One of Thompson’s goals is to improve the customer experience at Wiseacre, such as creating a membership or rewards program. She also want to do a better job of communicating with customers about things like new beer releases or events.
“I think that a lot of that was lost with the pandemic, and it’s been a slow process of rebuilding,” she said.
For now, Thompson is spending time touching base with staff, especially those she hasn’t had a lot of previous contact with, to understand their needs and goals.
Wiseacre’s team has grown to about 65-70 between the Downtown and Broad Ave. locations and sales reps outside of Memphis.
Thompson is focused on fostering a culture at Wiseacre that’s fun, but also one where people are held accountable.
“We want to build a culture of people,” Thompson said, “that are knowledgeable about beer, that love the product, that take pride in what we’re doing, and that also feel valued and respected in the work that they do.”