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


There was a brewery’s blog that I was watching a couple of years ago. They were a brand new brewery that was opening up and they had a few blog posts sharing their progress. I was an early subscriber and those posts were what inspired me to do the same with these progress updates.

But then they stopped posting frequent updates and I was pissed.

I get it now, though.

When you’re working to launch something as large as a brewery or beer bar or anything meaningful, really, things are either dragging out or moving at hyper-speed.

Either you don’t have anything new to report because you’re waiting for someone’s blessing and only small steps were taken forward or you’re leaping one valley after another and you have to prioritize where you invest every minute of your day.

Alas, here’s me sharing where we’ve been with the bar and where we’re going as of late.


We’re happily working through a lease for a space on Monroe Street. It has been my dream to be in this area. A dream backed by consumer research and a dream backed by evaluating the merchants on the street. A neighborhood and merchants association that cares about one another and the positive impact we and those businesses on the street can make on Madison are two huge reasons why I smile when anyone tells me “Location, location, location.”

That’s not to say working through the lease has been easy. After all, it’s my first one. I’ve had to learn a lot in a little bit of time. Things like Triple Net to electrical circuits voltages and how to correctly communicate contingencies.

Fortunately, I’ve made it my mission to surround myself with people infinitely smarter than me on all of these topics from the git-go. Team work is what will make the dream work.


I’ve drawn and gone through roughly 22 layouts for the bar trying to find the optimal experience for the team who will be working there and the guests visiting. That was hard. There’s no sugar-coating it. I had to make decisions to cut some really creative concepts because we couldn’t actually execute them. (Don’t worry, I’ve saved a few ideas for any future endeavors.)

Months (yup, plural) have been invested in what the food prep area looks like. Another 20+ versions of that space were created, and that’s only a space for making charcuterie boards, soft pretzels with a variety of eclectic dips and frozen pizzas. Endless kudos to those who are tackling the task of designing an actual kitchen.

Every design choice has been a battle between practical and creative, cost-efficient and … well, not, target-centric and to code. That being said, if there are any must-haves for the craft beer bar, now is the time to send them my way:


If it’s not clear already, I’m extremely transparent about all parts of opening and operating this craft beer bar (and just about everything else in life). I’ll be receiving an SBA loan to fund a lot of this project with the majority of the funds going into construction costs. Caitlin Suemnicht wasn’t lying when she talked about the insane costs of construction in Madison.

On a odd side note, I’ve always appreciated how Entrepreneurs on Fire displays their income on their website and I’ve wondered if it could also be an effective way to rally people to purchase from, say, a craft beer bar, if they could see how in the red the business starts each month and how much in the black we could get it. Just one of many curious thoughts.

I’ve also been asked frequently if there are any partners in this. The answer is no. I’ve always been open to the idea and still am in the event someone shows as much passion for this as I do, but for now it’s simply my wife and I seeing what forward movement we can make in this amazing city.

 Liquor License (Sort Of)

For a lot of people I’ve talked to, I’ve had to start out with what the bar is not. It’s not actually going to serve hard liquor. It’s not a place where people will be puking in yards after leaving. It’s not a place for college parties or getting shwasted.

The neighborhood I’m in and the craft beer groups in (and around) Madison matter immensely to me. This craft brew bar is designed to support those communities and be a gathering place for those looking to converse over a craft beer or two. It also works as a depot for to-go craft beer so you can consume at home or wherever your gathering with others.

Here’s to hoping for a smooth and successful beer and wine license process.

Mailing List

If you’re not on the email list yet for updates like these, jump to to get on it. Please share the link with someone you think would be excited to be invited to a soft opening this summer. It would mean the world to me.

Cheers. Thanks for being part of the journey!

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