Sam checking out a potential new location in Tacoma with the seller, his restaurant partner Ethan Stowell, and architect Henry Walters.
Scoping another potential location with commercial real estate broker Angela Oliveri.
Site visit with Walters and potential seller.
Finalizing designs of their newest game with Drew Fletcher of Function Foundry.
Having a good laugh over the proposed names for the new game.
Overhead shot of the mini golf course at their newest location in South Lake Union.
Ol’ Crimson on display in all its glory.
What is your favorite WSU memory as a student?
More than anything, it was just the friendships I made. The football games—we had several memorable road trips. The Apple Cup in Seattle (’97) was something I’ll never forget. We were at the game in the WSU section and had snuck onto the field before the game was even over. In fact, we were the first ones down there, and my buddies and I had Mike Price on our shoulders carrying him around the field.
What was the most useful business class you took at WSU?
The most useful business class I took at WSU was a business marketing class. I don’t remember the exact number, but it was a 300 level course. The importance of effective marketing really stuck with me after that class, and I apply those lessons even today.
How did the idea for Flatstick come about?
It kind of hit me in this sort of “Aha!” moment when I first saw Rhein Haus (then Von Trapps) on Capitol Hill. I had already been to this place called Smash Putt several times, which was a pop-up mini golf experience a group of artists put together. They would find a warehouse, build a course, include a small bar, and then sell tickets online. So that’s what got me thinking about mini golf at a bar. Right when I walked in, the place was packed, and I thought, “Wow! What if we did something like this with mini golf?” That’s when the Flatstick idea really clicked. Getting people to come in was more of a challenge than I expected. But after a few months in Kirkland, it caught on, and we were just becoming jam-packed on the weekends. That’s when I knew it was going to work.
Best part of your job? Worst part of your job?
Flexibility and being able to control my schedule is a big thing. Just being able to be creative and make fun things that I like to do. Flatstick is kind of modeled after a place that I would want to go to. All the friendships with customers and staff are great, but working with Andy has been awesome. That’s one of my favorite aspects of this job. Least favorite stuff—anytime you have to make a decision to let someone go or disappoint them, that’s always tough.
If you could look back at the newly-graduated Sam Largent, what advice would you give him?
Try to soak up as much as you can from people who are knowledgeable in areas that you’re not. Talk business, learn as much as you can about the financial side of it. For me, having that accounting background was really beneficial in getting into this business. If you want to get into business, try to understand what people like and need. Figure out what’s not out there or ways that you can do something better than what is already out there. And try to find a good partner.
What advice would you give to someone that’s starting a business with a sibling?
Everyone warned me to not do it. But it’s been great. My brother Andy was the only person I could find that was willing to invest money in it. He took out a personal loan from a bank with a huge interest rate, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions he’s ever made. It’s important to have someone you can trust. For me, it’s never been an issue. Andy and I work great together. It’s important that you have someone you can depend on who is smart and understands what you’re trying to do. So you have to be careful who you’re getting into business with and make sure you can get along.