Craft Brew Bar StoryMemory Lane Pt. 1


Below are a handful of stories. Some hold lessons, some laughs and some are merely ones I never want to forget. Enjoy.

In 2016 , when I was beginning to build the foundation of this business, I asked someone who sells restaurant and bar supplies what advice he had for me …

“Don’t open a bar,” he said.

That fired me up and still pisses me off. I would have rather he shared what made running one such a struggle for him. Oh, well. Safe to say I’m not doing business with him.

One summer morning, I stopped to work from a coffee shop for a bit. While there, I ran into an accountant who lives in the neighborhood I planned to open the bar. We got to talking about financials (obviously).

“What’s your ramp up period?”

“My ramp up period?”

“Yeah. The time it will take for you to get your feet underneath you and start making your monthly sales goals. Especially if you open during construction or if you have push back from the neighborhood.”

Shortly after that conversation it sank in just how not black and white things are (have been and likely will always be).

A ramp up period makes sense if you have no marketing budget ahead of your open and no awareness that you’re opening.

Then again, even with that, there’s no promise you’ll be slammed.

More anxiety-driven yet is that what you ought to plan for is a ramp down period.

What happens after the hype, after the news coverage, after people get their fill and start to level out. How can you plan for that?

Community connections, events, invitations and giving your time and energy to others as often as you can so they know you care. That’s how you plan for that. At least that’s what I’m giving a try.

I once gave a speech about taking a leap. It was a congratulatory speech on the work of those who had recently crafted and launched a magazine from scratch. I was on a roll with paying tribute to their efforts and endless determination, but I knew the audience wasn’t understanding what these writers really went through.

In an effort to hit an emotional chord, I began riffing on how taking a leap like launching a magazine was like launching this bar. I went on about the resources available, the help, the examples to work from and the energy to do things right, but it wasn’t until I shared my fear list that the audience began to understand and empathize with the writers.

Everything people see from the outside is shiny and working and seems as if it was an overnight success or perfectly planned, but it’s fear that everyone can connect with.

The fear of failure or disappointing those who have given their time to you throughout the development phase.

There’s the fear of being misunderstood or having something you’ve done come back to bite you in the end.

There’s the fear of a name being wrong or that you realize too late that you’ve forgotten to add something vital.

We it was clear that we all share the fear, the energy in the room shifted. There was a new level of respect for the writers. It was a magical moment that I remember when I find myself trying not to show my struggle or strife.

Having gotten married in the midst of launching this venture, I noticed a lot of similarities between planning a wedding and planning a bar. The most fun (but also least fun) is hearing from everyone what you should do.

I’ve listened to every word and made tweaks to both the wedding day and the bar’s business plan because of the suggestions, but I’ve had to write so many of them off because it didn’t align with the goal.

And so it goes. Make sure to have your filter ready, but remain polite because they are sharing suggestions because they care. And that’s the person we all wish to serve, right? Someone who cares?

When I first drafted a 13 page business plan for the bar back in 2016, I submitted it to a Wisconsin business plan competition.

After not making it through the first phase, I asked for the review committee’s feedback. It was some of the harshest comments I’ve ever received, but when I look back, all I can do is laugh.

I was so naive.

Still am.

In fact, I’ve found naivety to make for some of the best stories and experiences to share and learn from. For what it’s worth, I’m not sure anyone could go through creating something meaningful without naivety.

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