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


And like that, it’s all truly happening.

The loan is signed, lease is signed, construction contract signed – a lot of documents are signed and now the giddiness, the nervousness, the excitement all settles in.

Or it would settle in, if I gave it the time to. But there is work to be done. A venue to be built that showcases and shares America’s finest brews. A venue for people to meet up in and to bond over a glass (or two). A venue to share stories of brewers and brewery owners. A venue for people like you.

So let’s get to the news breakdown.


1726 Monroe Street. Madison, WI 53711.

This is a space that has been three years in the making for me. From research and gut, I knew Monroe Street was the area this venue needed to open within. After vetting the layout and total square footage of every space on Monroe Street, only three spaces would have worked, but there was no line of sight for when they would actually open up.

That was the case until I heard Urban Land Interests was developing a new building where the old Associated Bank was. There would be retail spaces below and apartments above. Perfect. This was my opportunity to design a space from scratch and have (to a degree) a built-in customer base.

So, here we are with the location I dreamed and dreamed of, but I must note I would not have gotten here without people like Matt from Cresa, Anne from ULI, Gregg from Gregg Shimanski realty, Anne from SBDC, John from Bier Station and a dozen other folks I talked to about locations and lease conditions. Cheers to all of you.


Unless you know what LVP is, the difference between LVT and Quarry tile, and can name all the woods that are cost-efficient and you can still stain any color you want, you’ll probably struggle a bit with design. At least I am.

The atmosphere of Garth’s Brew Bar – the look and feel – is all decided, but as I noted in a recent post about design, the first hoop is creativity, the second hoop is practicality and the third hoop is cost.

So that’s where we are at with design. In the weeds of it all. Oh, and if anyone has a giant moose head they’d like to donate. Let me know. (Half-joking.)


There are a few things I’ve gotten right from the start. Most of the process of opening a business is being wrong a bunch of times until you’re right, and trying to get right as quickly as possible.

The one scenario that I can confidently say I did right in terms of acquiring a loan was to first talk to banks I either knew 1. Wouldn’t fund such a small amount or 2. I didn’t want to work with.

I did that to get an idea of the questions I better have answers to. To have them poke holes in the plan and make it stronger before I spoke with the lenders I knew I had a shot with and I wanted to work with.

I’ve ultimately landed with an SBA loan through Summit Credit Union and a business line of credit. (Cheers, Julie!)

There are two watch-out-fors I have to share about the lending process.

1. If you’re looking at an SBA loan, expect there to be a fee to acquire the loan. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but I paid a little more than $5,000 to get a loan. I didn’t know I would have to do that, so now you know and can prepare.

2. Document every dollar you spend from when you have an idea, but know that not all of it will be counted by the lender as a necessary expense for a business startup. With an SBA loan, an owner needs to inject at minimum 10 percent of the total project cost (not just the cost of the loan you’re acquiring).

If it wasn’t clear already, I’m an open book. If you have any questions or are starting a venture yourself, drop me a note at I’d love to help.

Alcohol License

Through submitting for an alcohol license, I was told that I could not get a license to sell wine. That’s only available for those who go for a full liquor license (liquor, beer and wine, and costs $10,000 to submit for it) or who have food sales greater than 50 percent of their sales.

So when you call Garth’s a beer bar, it truly will be. I’m sorry wine-lovers, I tried, but please don’t let that stop you from visiting. I’ll have a selection of beers with wine-characteristics as well as local ciders. After all, the whole point of this venue is to be a place for you to take your palate on an adventure.

Email List

Most of my posts and website content is gated right now while I work through the website design, so if you want to be the first to hear more updates and have access to exclusive pages of the website, be sure to sign up for emails by scrolling to the footer of this page.

You can also catch updates across the social platforms @garthsbrewbar.


  • We’ve got a fresh and more representative logo coming soon (likely before you read this). While the first logo for this business was expertly done (Cheers, BK), the idea for it came from my head and not an artist’s. Fingers crossed you love it.
  • I knew that a business plan was mercurial, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve updated it in the last six months. Maybe twice per week? Let’s just say I almost have the 50+ page document memorized.
  • There’s no promise yet, but I’m working on a few outdoor seats. Nothing huge, but it’s looking like the city will allow me to have a few chairs and tables outside, but within the property line.

Thanks for being part of this process. I’m beyond excited to have the doors open for you. Cheers.

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