Craft Brew Bar StoryGarth’s Brew Bar Progress Update (April)


It has been a wild ride getting this beer bar to become a reality.

People have asked how I keep my head up and the reality is that it’s a roller coaster every day. (I even have an Evernote for all the negative thoughts I have about not being good enough, about disappointing others, about the what ifs.)

That being said, the good keeps on coming and I’m constantly motivated by the beer drinking community in Madison. Y’all are so awesome.

Here’s a snapshot of where I’m at with opening up Garth’s Brew Bar.

Bank Conversations

I’ve researched a ton, talked to previous business owners and worked with the Small Business Development Center to figure out what questions I need to bring to the table. It always helps to go into any meeting knowing what you want or at least having an idea of what you hope to get out of it (because at the end of the day, everything is negotiable).

Some questions I was ready with:

How high a lending limit can they authorize without needing approval from a higher authority? Do they like to make the SBA loans? What volume of them do they close? Do they have any discounts outside of the bank? like hotels or shipping office supplies? What are all the fees? Fees for wire-transfers and credit card processing? Interest rate? Fixed rate? Options for refinancing later on? What type of collateral are they looking for?

Here was feedback from the first bank I reached out to. I may or may not have celebratory punched the air after reading it the first time.

First, nice job on the plan.  You’ve obviously put in a lot of effort getting to this point with really strong work on the market potential and strategies to reach your target market.  I do have some questions for you on how you might further translate potential into actual revenues – especially as it relates to Madison.  Also, (this will come as no surprise from a banker), I’d like to discuss your start-up costs and projections a bit more.

A lot of what I do when I go through business plans is to try to eliminate as many “what ifs” or open questions as possible.  You can never eliminate all of them but for me, sometimes just hearing an entrepreneur’s response gives me a sense of how prepared they are for start-up.

Again, you’ve done a really nice job – -better than 90% of the plans I’ve seen over my career.  I would like to talk some more.

Media Training

I might implement public relations programs for a living, but I’m not so naive to say I couldn’t use some help. After all, everything is different when it comes to working on something for yourself versus others. It’s easier to be hard on others, to point out their weak spots and to motivate them to be better – a lot more difficult to be that for yourself. (Damn ego)

I’ve had a buddy help me go through trials for what a journalist might ask or what a radio show host might want me to talk about. The practice made me think back to when this idea first started in 2016 and how poorly I talked about it to others. I can only imagine how dumb people thought I was hearing me talk about a beer bar.

Now, though, it’s a different game. I’ve been fine tuning, talking about it, and perfectly it for nearly two years. I’m looking forward to the first segment I get to share the story and purpose of the bar.

Investor Search

The search for an investor continues and I want to collaborate with someone who is willing to invest between 60-80k.

I had a few leads back from a market research survey I put out, but they were thinking smaller investment amounts.

When you have a project you would like some additional funds for before you go to a bank, you need to decide whether you are looking for a lot of people to give a little or a few people to give more.

I decided I wouldn’t crowdfund this project and that I would seek someone who recognizes and shares my passion for community building and creating a hub for craft beer drinkers to connect and converse.

If that sounds like you or if you know someone who wants to chat, feel free to share my email or cell 815 370 1904.

Other Work In Progress

  • A training guide for new hires so that expectations and goals are set. I’ve been a bartender and not being trained well was the worst.
  • There will be food options at the bar including soft pretzels with a variety of eclectic dips from  the Mustard Museum.
  • This loyalty program I’m working on is going to be the bees knees. If you have any wish-fors.
  • I’m still looking for a space on Monroe Street, closer to Regent St. I have a lead, but still unsure!
  • The toughest element beyond permits, financials and all the business side of things is thinking through all the innovative ideas to test out at the bar. Visiting Garth’s has to result in a remarkable experience. The goal is to raise the bar of bars in Madison.

Cheers to what’s to come. Thanks for being part of the journey!

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